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The New York Knicks are reportedly ahead of the field to trade for Donovan Mitchell. But they’re trying to pull it off without moving their best young player — R.J. Barrett.
The Utah Jazz changed course this week and admitted that they’re open to hearing trade proposals for Donovan Mitchell. The Heat and Knicks were the first to jump at the opening and word is the Knicks may be the frontrunner. However, New York is also reportedly holding the line on including R.J. Barrett in any offer.
According to SNY’s Ian Begley, “People in touch with the club recently said New York has had no interest in trading RJ Barrett in any deal.”
What would the Knicks trade for Donovan Mitchell without R.J. Barrett?
Without R.J. Barrett the potential offer from the Knicks looks a lot thinner. They could offer a package of three or four first-round picks, similar to what the Jazz got for Rudy Gobert. But in terms of players, it would be something like Evan Fournier, Obi Toppin, Cam Reddish and either Quentin Grimes or Immanuel Quickley.
Fournier would likely be flipped as the Jazz looked to follow up with trades sending out Mike Conley, Jordan Clarkson and Bojan Bogdanovic. But none of Toppin, Reddish, Quickley or Grimes look like a future star and, honestly, even becoming a starter on a competitive team might be a stretch for that group.
Even with Barrett on the table, it seems possible the Jazz could find a preferable offer elsewhere. Barrett is a 22-year-old wing who averaged 20.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game last season. But he also shot 40.8 percent from the field, is now a career 35.2 3-point shooter across three seasons and looks more like D’Angelo Russell than Anthony Edwards.
The Jazz could also be choosing from similar offers built around Tyler Herro (a much more efficient and skilled offensive player) or moving Mitchell into a multi-team Kevin Durant trade that gives them a lot more choices. And, of course, the Jazz don’t have to trade Mitchell right now. They could hold him for the long-term or simply wait until more buyers materialize.
The point is the Knicks may not want to part with Barrett, but it may end up being a choice between him and Mitchell.