The New York Knicks were in a position to strike a deal for Donovan Mitchell, but their unwillingness to include both RJ Barrett and Quentin Grimes marked the beginning of the end of talks.
For weeks, it seemed like the Knicks had the inside track to acquire Mitchell, who ended up landing with the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday. It’s a great trade for Cleveland, but another example of the Knicks having their sights set on a star but being unable to close the deal.
The Cavs seemingly came out of nowhere to get Mitchell. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Jazz never reengaged with the Knicks after being unable to settle on a framework.
“New York had the assets package that Utah preferred and the sides seemed to be inching closer to a trade on Sunday night and into Monday," Wojnarowski wrote, "But New York balked on including Quentin Grimes into a trade with RJ Barrett to acquire Mitchell, sources said.
“When guard Immanuel Quickley was proposed as a replacement for Grimes in the trade, Utah wanted three unprotected first-round draft picks as part of the package -- but New York would only do a third first-round pick that included Top 5 protections, sources said.”
Wojnarowski also pointed out that the poison pill in the Barrett contract extension, agreed to this week and made official as the Mitchell news came down, required the two sides to go back and basically restart their talks. And while the Knicks continued to try pursuing Mitchell after the Barrett extension, the Jazz had moved on.
Ultimately, you can’t really blame the Knicks for not wanting to go through with including both Barrett and Grimes, as that would have crushed their depth. And with free agency well in the rear-view, the Knicks wouldn’t be able to find a quality addition to help offset those losses.
Whether they should have just parted with unprotected picks is a different discussion.
All told, the Cavs sent Collin Sexton, Lauri Markkanen, Ochai Agbaji, unprotected first-round picks in 2025, 2027 and 2029, and pick swaps in 2026 and 2028 in exchange for Mitchell.
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