In the hours since the Jazz agreed to trade All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell to the Cavaliers in a blockbuster deal, details about the Knicks’ failed pursuit have surfaced.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Jazz “preferred” the Knicks’ assets but said the Knicks refused to include unprotected first-round picks in their offers. Additionally, New York resisted including Quentin Grimes and R.J. Barrett in its proposals.
“When guard Immanuel Quickley was proposed as a replacement for Grimes in the trade, Utah wanted three unprotected first-round draft picks as part of the package — but New York would only do a third first-round pick that included Top 5 protections,” Wojnarowski reported in a detailed overview of how the Knicks came up short.
The New York Post reported the Knicks’ offer only included two first-round picks, along with Barrett, adding the Knicks didn’t think the Jazz had any offers that included three first-round picks.
In the end, they did. Cleveland sent three first-round picks, two pick swaps, Collin Sexton, Ochai Agbjai and Lauri Markkanen to Utah to complete the deal. The Jazz got the three picks they coveted, the proven young scorer in Sexton instead of Barrett and the high-ceiling guard in Agbaji instead of Grimes.
The Knicks resisted giving up a haul of picks for Spurs guard Dejounte Murray ahead of free agency, opting to sign Jalen Brunson instead, but Mitchell has long been viewed as a natural fit for the franchise. An All-Star in each of the past three seasons, Mitchell grew up in New York, and his father has worked for the Mets for two decades.
It’s quickly becoming clear that Knicks president Leon Rose values draft picks much more than previous Knicks executives. For the first time in a long time, the organization can say it owns all its future first-round picks, along with a handful of protected 2023 first-rounders from other teams.
While Rose wasn’t afraid to make an aggressive offer to Brunson in free agency, he has been cautious about any move that would force the Knicks to part with high picks in exchange for a player. Rose traded the Knicks’ first-round pick on draft night this year for future first-rounders.
Building through the draft is a proven formula for success for downtrodden franchises, but that’s not what the Knicks are. Rose is trying to win, and the addition of Brunson reflects that desire. Even if the Knicks disappoint this season, the odds that they land a pick near the top of the lottery — and as a result, a potential star — are slim.
It’s possible Rose is just waiting for the right opportunity to come along for a star-deprived franchise, but his message is clear: These are not the same Knicks who recklessly throw around assets to bring big names to New York. For better or worse, Rose is sticking to the plan.