It’s been nearly a week since reports from the New York Knicks and Utah Jazz have been discussing a possible trade for three-time All-Star Donovan Mitchell. Offseason is at the point where it should be over. However, this does not happen.
The positions of Mitchell and Kevin Durant still stand. Then again, the tedious process was supposed to be the expectation all along – especially with Mitchell and Knicks.
There is something logical about Mitchell ending up in New York. It is from the area. The Knicks front office has created a list of young players’ encouragement and several recruiting options in hopes of using them one day to get a star. Mitchell has always been one of the supposed targets. Meanwhile, jazz is heading to rebuild. They don’t care so much about trading with the Knicks as they do about one of New York’s picks. But even though these two teams seem like a perfect match, it’s no coincidence that it took so long.
In last week’s article, I compared Jazz CEO Danny Ainge with Philadelphia 76ers president Daryl Morey in that they both have stomachs strong enough to wait out awkward situations—a reference, of course, to the way Morey stuck with Ben Simmons for months past the season, even with no Comfort between Simmons and Philadelphia is becoming more and more difficult. But in reality, Ainge’s commercial personality deviates a bit from Morey’s.
Oftentimes, when he puts his heart on a player, Morey will chase deals. Ainge is known for setting a price to the guy he’s trying to do business with or the price for the guy he’s trying to get, and then waiting for the situation until someone meets that exact cost.
Don’t want to trade six or seven of Mitchell’s first rounds? Fine. Ainge will hang up the phone and run to the golf course without any regrets.
Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri has a similar negotiating strategy. Some might call it stubbornness. Given the success of both Ujiri and Ainge, it might be more appropriate to call them principles.
So, this adventure rocks (even if New York seems like an obvious next stop for Mitchell) and not just because of the characters on Jazz’s side.
Ainge’s mentality runs counter to Nix’s reputation.
Leon Rose is the head of the New York team, but he doesn’t make most of the day’s business calls. Most commonly, those reach out to the vice president of basketball and strategic planning, Brock Aller, who oversees the salary cap administration. Every now and then someone else will take over, especially when a top Knicks official has a strong relationship with a opposing front office executive they’re trying to cut a deal with.
General Manager Scott Perry has been essential to day trading with the Oklahoma City Thunder and Detroit Pistons due to his ties to Thunder GM Sam Presti and Pistons GM Troy Weaver. Perry and Weaver both worked under Presti at OKC.
But it is more common to have the Aller on the phone. Rose often sticks near the end to seal deals.
Aller commands marginal value, which should be refreshing for Knicks fans still traumatized by teams of the past who needlessly tossed first-round trains into the heater. He wants to stick to choices and gain others. He’s been known to put pressure on teams just to get draft rights to an extra player, which is less important to most others.
Thus, the Jazz and the Knicks have the perfect dynamic to allow the negotiations to continue.
One aspect that is notorious for setting and sticking to a price; The other is known for bargaining over minute details to the point that sometimes business partners just soften up to end the conversation and get the deal done.
Why are the enlistment rights for this 27-year-old picked in 47th place seven years ago important, anyway?
One party may become desperate enough to find the price the other is asking for. Or maybe they both realize it’s best for everyone to get together in the middle, and something gets done sooner because of that. But the Knicks aren’t the only team hunting Mitchell. If this story takes longer than it actually does, the characters involved will likely play a role.
Whether or not the Mitchell-to-the-Knicks deal happens, the value is much more than marginal.
Despite all the talk about how many draft picks the 25-year-old’s jazz squad wants, it’s become clear over the past week that the quantity of picks isn’t nearly as important as their quality.
The Knicks have four first-round picks from the other teams (the Washington Wizards in 2023, the Dallas Mavericks in 23, the Pistons in 23, and the Milwaukee Bucks in 25) plus each of their own. The selections of Dallas, Washington, Detroit, and Milwaukee are all protected. A lot can happen between now and 2025, and injuries can always push a team down the rankings, but the Bucks’ pick in the lottery is unlikely. The Mavs will likely fall into their 20s next summer. The other two choices, due to the protected methods, couldn’t be better than the ninth.
The speech was about the number of draft the jazz band wanted. But if the Knicks were to handle, say, six of Mitchell’s first rounds, there would be a fundamental difference between serving the four from the other teams, along with an unprotected team in 2023 and a protected one in 25 and sending four unprotected. of their own as well as Washington and Detroit. The latest deal mortgages the future of New York in a way that the first does not. The discrepancy between these two packages requires more than a pawnshop swap.
The irony of the Knicks situation is that in another world, they may not have to include as many choices in a deal for Mitchell.
This team has drafted well since Rose took the front office, pulling away from the 2020 and 21 drafts with Obi Tobin (No. 8 on 20), Emmanuel Quikley (No. 25 in 20), Quentin Grimes (No. 25 in 21), Miles McBride (No. 36 by 21) and Jericho Sims (No. 58 by 21). Each of these players has a chance to become a real contributor to the winning team. Some are already at this level. (It’s too early to talk about second-placed Trevor Kells in 2022.) Then there’s 22-year-old RJ Barrett.
But last season, the Knicks signed veterans to play on many of those aforementioned youths, a strategy that could hurt business negotiations with other teams. If Toppin, for example, plays consistently in 2021-22, he may have more value. Instead, he was a strict reserve, and if the Knicks insist he’s better than that in business conversations with jazz or anyone else, it’s easy to respond by asking, “If he’s better than a 16-minute player, why play him only 16 minutes?”
If the Knicks had played Toppin more, if they had led Quickley in attack before the final few weeks of the season, one or both of them might have exploded before the spring (a time when production on losing teams is always in question), and it might have been The hypothetical higher value for these people could give them a choice or two in the Mitchell deal.
Quentin Grimes is making strides in Las Vegas, having just made the first team in the league all summer, certainly not hurting the Knicks cause. Nor did the Ainge representative for the loving combo rangers. He was such a huge fan of Quickley that he drove into the 2020 Draft.
But none of that matters if the Knicks and Jazz can’t find a way to meet in the middle.
Jazz knows that Knicks have been outsmarting the stars for years. The Knicks know their B-pack is better than any of the other rumored Mitchell suits. Both sides have serious ways of trying to win deals.
They are ideal business partners, but imperfect negotiating partners. Right now, it seemed like each side was waiting for the other to blink.
(Photo: Danny Ing: Jeffrey Swinger/USA Today)