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Knicks' Attempt to Lowball Danny Ainge For Donovan Mitchell Was Admirable

Liam McKeone
Donovan Mitchell and RJ Barrett
Donovan Mitchell and RJ Barrett / Sarah Stier/GettyImages
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While Kevin Durant has taken up most of the available space for basketball drama in New York City this summer, the New York Knicks have not been quiet. They've been talking with the Utah Jazz in an attempt to acquire Donovan Mitchell, presumably without paying the same kind of king's ransom Danny Ainge made the Minnesota Timberwolves pay for Rudy Gobert. So far there hasn't been any significant movement on that front, but Shams Charania brought fresh news to our eyes and ears on Monday.

The Athletic insider reported the most recent trade offer the Knicks made, which Ainge probably laughed at:

New York made a recent offer of Evan Fournier, Obi Toppin, additional salary and two unprotected first-round draft picks (five total), league sources tell me and The Athletic’s Tony Jones. The Jazz’s asking price has been more significant than that.

I mean, in theory it checks all the boxes. Toppin is a young player with potential. Fournier provides the biggest chunk of salary to help match Mitchell's max contract. They included five total first round picks. What more could Ainge want?

But the movement of this offseason makes this a lowball offer and the Knicks definitely know that. The Gobert trade destroyed any semblance of a reasonable trade market, but Dejounte Murray, a worse player than Mitchell, fetched three unprotected first-rounders. Toppin is a "young" player in the sense that he's still on his rookie contract but at 24 years-old he's only two years younger than Mitchell with little hope of ever reaching the level the Jazz star has already. Fournier's contract is an albatross already, even if he isn't useless on the court. We can't evaluate the draft picks aspect without knowing the protections on the other three selections, but only two unprotected firsts won't get it done.

It is a weak trade package for a 26 year-old All-Star. Props to the Knicks for trying, though! Everybody knows Trader Danny's reputation of taking everything that isn't nailed down in superstar trades. New York isn't desperate, especially since we're still a full two months away from real basketball being played.

As always, the worst he can say is no.

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