The New York Knicks had made their intentions clear that they wanted to bring home Donovan Mitchell when they sent a strong contingent to watch Game 1 of his first-round exit against the Dallas Mavericks.
But that move might have cost the Knicks their shot at a blockbuster Mitchell trade this summer as Jazz executives were reportedly upset by their bravado. And even if the Mitchell forces his way out of Utah, the Jazz would prefer more substantial offers from other teams, according to a report.
“League sources regularly mention New York’s main offseason focus is to improve at the point guard position, but acquiring Utah’s other All-Star, Donovan Mitchell, remains highly unlikely. Even if Mitchell were to ultimately request a trade from the Jazz, he still has three full years committed on his contract before a player option in 2025-26. Plus, there’s healthy skepticism around the NBA that New York’s best offer for Mitchell would trump other teams’ pursuits, such as a potential package from Miami that would theoretically center around Tyler Herro plus other salary and multiple first-round picks,” B/R’s Jake Fischer wrote.
The leaguewide belief that the Knicks’ potential package is inferior despite amassing draft assets and young players over the past few years is another blow to their inability to land a star and develop their homegrown stars.
Herro was drafted 10 picks after RJ Barrett in the 2019 NBA Draft, yet the reigning Sixth Man of the Year is viewed as a better centerpiece than any Knicks players, including Barrett.
Both Herro and Barrett finished their third season in the league with almost identical numbers. While Herro is the better shooter and playmaker, Barrett is the stronger player.
The Heat’s track record of developing late lottery, second-round picks, and undrafted players is one of the gold standards in the league. It’s the exact opposite of the Knicks’ track record — no rookie has played past their rookie contract in New York since Charlie Ward in 1999. Barrett is expected to break that curse.
But to be fair, the current Knicks’ front office has drafted well, and there is a much better player development program in place than the previous regimes.
Barrett, Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin all showed growth last season. But among the three, only Barrett had the most extended leash being part of the starting unit. Rookie Quentin Grimes also showed promise.
Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau’s gradual approach to player development has been a divisive topic among the Knicks fan base.
If all their young players can make another leap next season, 2023 summer will be rosier for the Knicks to eventually land an elusive star that will anchor a sustainable playoff team. But that entails more playing time for their younger guys to grow. And maybe, they can strike gold with either the leaguewide perception about their trade pieces changes or one of them grows into a star.
If there’s anything that the Knicks can learn about the playoffs this year, the two teams — Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics — left standing have a core that has been reared and developed into a sustainable contender.
Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo