The New York Knicks have reportedly stepped up their bid for Donovan Mitchell, but a significant hurdle remains.
They have presented a new offer which the Jazz are not inclined to accept.
New York made a recent offer of Evan Fournier, Obi Toppin, additional salary and two unprotected first-round draft picks (five total), league sources tell me and The Athletic’s Tony Jones. The Jazz’s asking price has been more significant than that.Shams Charania, The Athletic
The new Knicks offer aims to keep Quentin Grimes, the player that the Jazz have been targeting as a key piece in a return package for Mitchell.
Toppin, the eighth overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft and Leon Rose’s first lottery selection, had been busy this summer building chemistry with new Knicks point guard Jalen Brunson. But it appears Toppin is the player the Knicks are willing to sacrifice to bring Mitchell home.
With Julius Randle’s $117 million, four-year extension set to kick in next season, Toppin still has no clear path to significant minutes. The 24-year-old Toppin flourished without Randle in the final five games of the season, showing signs of star potential that made him an intriguing lottery pick two years ago.
Over the last five games in which he started, he averaged 27.2 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 2.8 assists. He punctuated the best stretch of his young career so far with a career-high 42-point, 10-rebound explosion.
While there are a few teams like Washington and Charlotte also in pursuit of Mitchell, they could not match the Knicks’ new offer, which consists of five first-round selections (two unprotected from their own picks, presumably 2023 and 2025, and three from other teams with varying protections).
Jazz CEO Danny Ainge, however, wants more unprotected picks.
The 25-year-old Mitchell, who is entering his prime, still has three guaranteed years left on his contract, giving the Jazz some leverage to hold on to him until a team meets their sky-high asking price.
The Knicks, meanwhile, are wary of giving up the whole farm for Mitchell, whom they view as a significant step toward contention but not the endgame of their patient rebuild.
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