A new report suggests that the New York Knicks are hoping to sign Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell once he becomes available in free agency, despite concerns regarding his possible lack of chemistry with one of the team’s more promising youngsters.
As explained by Forbes, talk of the Knicks’ interest in Mitchell was spurred by their decision to hire former Jazz player development coach Johnnie Bryant, who has a “strong relationship” with the All-Star guard. The outlet pointed out that the only thing holding the organization back is the possibility that the former Louisville Cardinals star might not gel on-court with last year’s No. 3 overall draft pick, R.J. Barrett.
“They want him badly but may be a possible conflict with R.J.,” one of Forbes‘ sources was quoted as saying. “There’s a debate in the front office if they can play together.”
A native of Elmsford, New York, Mitchell grew up rooting for the Knicks and later signed with the team’s current president, Leon Rose, who was then a player agent. The 23-year-old also gave his endorsement to Rose when he was named to his current position.
“I love Leon to death. He’s a great dude, great person and a really good businessman. So I think they’re going to start going in the right direction when he gets in there.”
In addition, Mitchell described Rose as a “charismatic” individual who cares for the players he works with and understands how such relationships work, given that he’s also worked with two other young NBA superstars — Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker and Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns.
Forbes also brought up how Rick Pitino — who previously coached the Knicks in the NBA and Louisville in the NCAA — had lobbied for New York to select Mitchell with the eighth overall pick in the 2017 draft. Instead, the organization opted for Frank Ntilikina at No. 8, with the Dallas Mavericks choosing Dennis Smith Jr. — who fell behind Ntilkina on the Knicks’ point guard depth chart in 2019-20 — one pick later. Mitchell was then selected by the Jazz at No. 13.
Although Mitchell will only be eligible to enter free agency in the summer of 2021, the idea of him ending up with his hometown team has been floated around in recent months. In April, an unnamed league executive told Ian Begley of SportsNet New York that the Knicks might have to offer a trade package featuring Barrett, starting center Mitchell Robinson, and two future first-round selections if they want to acquire Mitchell from the Jazz.