Donovan Mitchell expected to be a Knick: ‘It would have been nice’


Addressing the media for the first time since his trade to Cleveland, All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell admitted he “saw the writing on the wall,” knowing his Jazz tenure would soon be coming to an end, particularly after seeing his longtime teammate Rudy Gobert moved in a similar blockbuster earlier this offseason.

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“For me, once Rudy got traded, I kind of saw the writing on the wall,” said Mitchell, a career 23.9-ppg scorer who joins a loaded Cavs roster headlined by All-Stars Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen, Kevin Love and Rookie of the Year runner-up Evan Mobley. “I think we all did, and I think we understood we had a good run.”

Once Danny Ainge’s rebuilding movement became apparent, Mitchell braced for his inevitable departure, expecting he’d be dealt to New York. All summer, the trade was seen as a foregone conclusion until the Knicks signed RJ Barrett to a four-year extension, all but eliminating them from the Mitchell sweepstakes. Utah then pivoted to Cleveland, ultimately trading Mitchell for former lottery selections Lauri Markkanen, Colin Sexton and Ochai Agbaji, along with three first-rounders and a pair of pick swaps.

“I kind of had a feeling I was going to get moved. I thought it was New York, I’m not going to lie to you,” said the Westchester native, admitting the possibility of playing for his hometown Knicks was, at one time, appealing to him. “Obviously, who doesn’t want to be home, next to their mom? I haven’t lived at home since I was like in eighth grade. I’ve been in boarding school and what not, so it would have been nice.”

Rather than a victory for the Cavaliers, the trade was largely viewed as another Knicks failure, the latest missed opportunity for an embattled franchise trying to stay relevant. “I’m truly excited to be here, be a part of this city. Y’all saw I had the Cavs jersey when I was like five, six, whatever it was,” said Mitchell, who grew up idolizing LeBron James, even attending his infamous “Decision” at the Greenwich Boys and Girls Club. “It’s crazy how life comes full circle. Being able to be a part of that, between the fire and the intros, I remember the little things. I love playing in this arena. So, to be here, I’m truly excited.”

The NBA’s ninth-leading scorer at 25.9 points per game in 2021-22, Mitchell will make two visits to the Big Apple this season, with the Knicks hosting Cleveland December 4th and again the following month (January 24th) at Madison Square Garden.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Nick Cammett, Getty Images