Utah is still looking to trade Mitchell, and the Knicks remain the clear frontrunner because they have the first-round picks the Jazz seek, but the sides are not close and Utah is willing to carry Mitchell into the season rather than settle for less than their asking price. And that asking price is more than the four (really, five) first-round picks they got in the Rudy Gobert trade.
Tony Jones, the Jazz beat writer for The Athletic, joined Michel Scotto on the Hoopshype podcast Friday and gave just that update:
I don’t think the two sides are close. I don’t think they have been close. We’ll see what happens as the urgency of training camp looms. The Jazz want what they want, which is picks out of this deal, and they want young guys on short or rookie contracts. By definition, that means Toppin, Grimes and Quickley… The Knicks don’t want to unload Derrick Rose. He’s long been a favorite of Tom Thibodeau. I know the Knicks want to hang onto him and Grimes. Those guys are priorities…
The sense I get right now is it’s probably not going to happen on an imminent level. The two sides aren’t close. To me, I think if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen closer to training camp or the start of the season. If it doesn’t happen then, we’ll see what happens closer to the February trade deadline.
There should be some pressure on the Jazz around training camp because, for all the picks they got in the Gobert trade, Utah’s most valuable rebuilding asset is its own first-rounder. Put more bluntly: If the Jazz want to be in the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes next June, they need to lose a lot of games. Keeping Donovan Mitchell — and Mike Conley, Jordan Clarkson, Patrick Beverley and other veterans — on the roster will mean wins.
But Danny Ainge is not one to be rushed. He is playing a long game, and if it means waiting until the season starts — where maybe the Knicks stumble in a deep East and get a little desperate — he will wait it out. Maybe a three-team trade with the Lakers will even find a second life (although that is more of a longshot).
Two other interesting notes from Jones on the podcast. First, he said that the Heat do not have the assets the Jazz want and are not close to a deal (while you can argue, as Ira Winderman has, that trading for Tyler Herro and then flipping him can get Utah two more firsts, Jones suggests Utah is not interested in that extra step). Second, he said the Jazz have little stomach for bringing in Julius Randle as part of the trade. So keep him out of your trade machine attempts to get this deal done.