Knicks face daunting competition if Cavs put star scorer on trade-block

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The New York Knicks may have more difficulty in pulling off a Donovan Mitchell trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers than previously thought.

Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports went in length about the Cavaliers’ staunch attitude toward retaining their core of Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen, and Evan Mobley with Mitchell as their centerpiece, saying:

“If the Cavaliers were to put Mitchell on the block tomorrow or in February before the trade deadline or next offseason, there would be a long line of suitors, the¬†Knicks¬†surely among them, willing to compete for his services with competitive offers,” Fischer said. “The Cavaliers, though, are not prepared to consider that exit strategy. Cleveland officials have maintained a commitment to this core of four All-Star talents, according to league sources, even with all the incessant chatter among rival executives that Mitchell will inevitably bolt when he can reach the unrestricted market in 2025.”

Cavaliers Committed to Mitchell Despite 2023 1st Round Exit

The Cavaliers did not advance as far as they’d have liked to in the 2023 NBA playoffs with Mitchell at the helm, all thanks to the Knicks. This season, the Cavaliers have been on a mission to right that ship at 16-12, but the Knicks yet again have an upper hand on them at 16-11 as the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Mitchell’s ties to New York have been well documented dating back to last season, and talks ramped up in the summer regarding a potential homecoming for the four-time All-Star.

The Cavaliers, while in the mix as darkhorse contenders out East, do not have a pressing need to deal Mitchell prior to the Feb. 8 trade deadline. They have Mitchell under contract until 2025-26, where he’ll make upwards of $37 million.

Even if Mitchell opts to enter restricted free agency after the end of next season, Cleveland will still be in a position to match any offer sheet as they’ll have Isaac Okoro’s $11.8 million expiring contract coming off of their $150 million books that offseason, should the latter opt to leave that summer.

Will the Knicks Wiff on All-Star Trade Targets if Mitchell Becomes Unavailable?

The Knicks have pressure from all sides to bring another marquee All-Star to Madison Square Garden and fast. Recent reports suggest their chances of bringing in reigning MVP Joel Embiid from the Philadelphia 76ers have decreased. Their ties to Karl-Anthony Towns are also uncertain as the Minnesota Timberwolves (20-6) continue to dominate the West and the NBA as a whole.

The front office may have to exercise patience in their pursuit of landing Mitchell. They’ll just have to determine whether or not it’ll be worth it, as they’ve already declared Quentin Grimes untouchable in any deal involving Mitchell and have seen a decrease in his productivity almost immediately after doing so.

The Knicks and Cavaliers will continue to jockey for positioning in the Eastern Conference standings, which runs the risk of impacting trade talks depending on how the next few weeks shake out for both in the win column.

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