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Knicks’ Longtime Trade Pursuit of Star Cooling Off

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell, New York Knicks trade target

The New York Knicks are considered one of the most realistic trade destinations for Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell.

Indeed, the link between New York and Mitchell existed long before he was traded to Cleveland. He was born and raised in New York. His father has long been an executive for the New York Mets. Summarily, the area has a lot of sentimental value to him. Though seemingly innocuous, such intangibles have dramatically affected the future of the sporting world.

Knicks’ Longtime Pursuit of Donovan Mitchell Cooling Off

Yet, the Knicks “are not in the same position today that they were a couple of summers ago when their offseason goal was to trade for Mitchell,” per The Athletic’s Fred Katz. “They couldn’t make it happen, pulling out of negotiations when the price became too large.”

The calculus has changed so much for New York that “if Mitchell were to hit the trade market again this summer… the Knicks would not be as enthusiastic in their pursuit of him — and that’s because the situation has changed.”

The primary hangup for the Knicks is his potential fit alongside Jalen Brunson in the backcourt given both players’ star ascendancy.

In many ways, this makes perfect sense. Both Brunson and Mitchell are scoring-minded lead guards whose ball-dominant, high-volume approach may not mesh well. Offensively, one or both of Brunson or Mitchell would have to be willing to play off-ball more frequently. They can both shoot well enough from 3 for this to work. Nonetheless, both seem to be more interested in their individual legacies than sharing the load. If the Knicks managed to keep Julius Randle in the deal, the situation gets even more dicey.

There’s also the fact that size does matter in the NBA.

A Winning Formula?

The last time a team won a title with two smallish guards as their best players was 1990. Then led by Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars, the Detroit Pistons even had Michael Jordan’s number. But that was 34 years ago. Since then, championships have largely gone through the combination of a star guard and a star forward. That’s what the Knicks currently have with Brunson and Randle, who’s been named an All-Star in three of the last four seasons.

Maybe that means that the Cavs would be best served splitting up Mitchell and Darius Garland. There’s a clear pathway to such a future, with the New Orleans Pelicans needing a guard and dangling Brandon Ingram as trade bait. Ingram isn’t as accomplished as Randle, his former teammate. Nonetheless, he’s already an elite scorer at 26 years old. Just hitting his prime, the best may be yet to come.


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