Knicks should blame the Timberwolves for the Donovan Mitchell trade drama
Things have officially reached ridiculous levels for Donovan Mitchell and the New York Knicks! Reports have surfaced speculating that the Utah Jazz, Mitchell’s current team, is seeking as many as seven first-round picks (subscription required) in return from New York.
Let me word that last point in a slightly different way. The Jazz are seeking SEVEN FIRST-ROUND PICKS FROM NEW YORK IN EXCHANGE FOR DONOVAN MITCHELL!! SEVEN!
When was the last time you remember a singular player landing that large a haul? For the sake of context, let’s look at a few other high-profile mega trades. Remember when the Boston Celtics fleeced the New Jersey Nets in a blockbuster trade involving Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce? You may also remember that Boston got the following package in return:
- Gerald Wallace
- Kris Humphries
- Tornike Shengelia
- Reggie Evans
- Keith Bogans
- Unprotected first-rounders in 2014, 2016, and 2018
While unforeseen circumstances caused the three unprotected first-rounders to evolve into a treasure trove of assets, this feels like a bargain compared to seven first-rounders.
The Knicks also have a recent super trade in their history. You likely recall the deal that sent Carmelo Anthony to NYC in exchange for what felt like an entire roster. Would it surprise you to know that this was actually the following package set to Denver?
- Wilson Chandler
- Raymond Felton
- Danilo Gallinari
- Timofey Mozgov
- Knicks’ 2014 first-round draft pick
- Warriors’ 2012 second-round pick (obtained from previous trade)
- Warriors’ 2013 second-round pick (obtained from previous trade)
- $3 million in cash
Again, this seems like a small return when pitted against current rumors surrounding Mitchell.
So what happened to cause the price tags to increase so exponentially? Has inflation hit the NBA? Is Utah simply asking for an unreasonable haul? Or is Mitchell that much more valuable than the aforementioned stars?
As it happens, the biggest antagonist to New York’s acquisition of Mitchell is not Utah. In fact, it is actually the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Why? I’m glad you asked! The moment that Minnesota agreed to send a total of five picks (four first-rounders and a first-round pick swap) and five players to the Jazz in exchange for multi-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert, the offseason market was permanently altered.
Don’t get me wrong. Gobert is clearly a valuable asset. His length and ability to protect the rim are single-handedly able to create a top-tier team defense.
Yet, Gobert is now 30 years old. And he carries a massive contract. Oh, and his skills as a traditional center have been rendered totally ineffective during the past several postseason series he has competed in.
If the market has established that a player like Gobert is worth five first-round picks, why wouldn’t the Jazz expect an even bigger return for a superior talent in Mitchell?
Donovan is younger (25 years old), is a much more capable scorer (23.9 career PPG), and has a proven ability to elevate his team in the postseason. With this logic in place, it seems sensible for Utah to expect as many as seven draft picks for their superstar.
This leaves New York in a frustrating purgatory. The Knicks have (and should) push back on the ridiculous notion of mortgaging every tradable first-round pick in their possession. They should be even more insulted when players like Obi Toppin, Immanuel Quickley, and RJ Barrett are included in trade rumors.
However, amidst all of the frustration surrounding negotiations, it is important to remember that these expectations are not without merit. Do not allow Utah to be the target of all of your ire, Knicks fans. If you are truly seeking to place blame for this offseason mess, look no further than the Timberwolves and their overpay for Gobert.