Right up until a Woj bomb dropped that Donovan Mitchell was headed to Cleveland, nearly every person, every source around the league thought the Jazz would ultimately trade him to the Knicks. In the wake of that surprise deal, more time has been spent on how the Knicks blew it — or made the right decision by not overbidding — as has been spent on Mitchell in Cleveland.
What was the Knicks front office thinking? Charles Barkley recently dropped a little knowledge in an appearance on Sirius XM NBA Radio, based on his conversation with New York front office powerhouse William ‘World Wide” Wessley.
— SiriusXM NBA Radio (@SiriusXMNBA) September 9, 2022
“I actually had this conversation last night with World Wide Wes at dinner. I said, ‘Wes, why didn’t y’all make the trade?’ He says, ‘Oh man. Don’t go by the media stuff. [The Jazz] wanted my wife, my kids… We wanted the deal, obviously,’ but he said, ‘They wanted my wife, they wanted my kids, they wanted my grandkids. They were just trying to rip somebody off.’ So he says, ‘Dude, we’re gonna have to pass on it.’ And I give those guys credit, because you can’t give away everything.”
Charles Barkley is as much a provocateur as NBA analyst — we should always take what he says with a grain of salt… or an entire shaker — but these comments track with other reporting.
One thing clear in the wake of the non-trade in New York: There was no consensus in the Knicks front office on how to move forward with this trade. New York’s front office has a lot of influential people used to being the decision maker — Leon Rose, World Wide Wes, Gerson Rosas (who did much of the day-to-day negotiating), Scott Perry, owner James Dolan, and the list goes on and on — and that can lead to mixed messages. Look at the breadth of reporting out of NYC and it’s clear some in the Knicks’ front office were more into making this deal than others, and the result is a jumble of different paths and offers — with Utah trying to squeeze more out of New York. The Cavaliers’ offer was cut and dried — three unprotected picks were the most they could offer. It was on the table.
As noted when breaking down the winners and losers from this trade, it’s impossible to say today if the Knicks did the right thing by not upping their offer to get the deal done. It’s better not to overpay and tie their hands for future moves, but whether the Knicks regret this will depend on if they can land whoever the next available superstar is, and how the team develops from here. Maybe it’s a blown opportunity to land an All-Star, elite scorer who wanted to be in New York. On the other hand, maybe they dodged a bullet and what is right around the corner is better. We will see.
But you can be sure the Knicks not landing Mitchell is a conversation that will come up again and again in future years.