For months, it seemed a foregone conclusion that the New York Knicks would be able to put together a package to get Donovan Mitchell in a trade with the Utah Jazz. That did not happen, as the Cleveland Cavaliers were able to swoop in bring Mitchell to northeast Ohio without having to move and of Jarrett Allen, Darius Garland, or Evan Mobley.
The package that Cleveland put together involved three unprotected first-round picks, a pair of pick swaps, and a trio of players: Lauri Markkanen, 2022 first-round pick Ochai Agbaji, and Collin Sexton, who agreed to a 4-year, $72 million contract extension to make the deal happen. In a new report by Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News, we learned that the Knicks find it curious their best deal was unable to beat that.
The Knicks, according to sources, feel like their proposals with RJ Barrett as the centerpiece with multiple first-round picks were better than the Cavs’ final offer, which is up to interpretation. Only Ainge knows if he negotiated in good faith. He’d never admit it if he didn’t. People who know Ainge say he’d never jeopardize a deal over something petty, whether it was that silly front-row display at the Jazz playoff game or issues with either the Knicks or CAA (the talent agency closely associated with the Knicks). But it’s worth noting Ainge only completed one trade with the Knicks during his 18 years in the Celtics’ front office. He was much more active with Cleveland while completing eight deals, including the blockbuster involving Kyrie Irving in 2017 when current Cavs GM Koby Altman was in his first year at that position.
A Knicks contingent famously sat courtside at a Jazz-Mavericks playoff game in a move that apparently upset both teams — the theory was that this was an attempt by the Knicks to show their interest in both Mitchell and former Dallas guard Jalen Brunson. Of course, as Bondy went on to note, it’s plausible that the Jazz just did not want to pay Barrett what would have been required if he went to Utah, as he agreed to a $120 million extension with the Knicks earlier in the week.