Former Knicks GM said team didn’t see Donovan Mitchell as solo franchise cornerstone

Cleveland Cavaliers v Brooklyn Nets

Donovan Mitchell is undoubtedly a talented player. As a four-time All-Star and second-team All-NBA recipient last season, he showcased his ability by averaging 27 points, six rebounds, and five assists per game while maintaining a remarkable 63 true shooting percentage. However, the question remains: Can he be the best player on a championship team? Is he truly a franchise player?

These doubts were evident in the trade negotiations between the New York Knicks and the Utah Jazz last year. Former Knicks GM Scott Perry shared on “The Hoop Genius” podcast that they saw Mitchell as a good player, but one who needed a stronger supporting cast to succeed. Perry stated, “If he was that singular force, Utah probably would’ve been in the conference finals if he were that singular force. But he wasn’t that singular force. That’s not a criticism against him. That’s just an evaluation that you must make.”

Mitchell’s connection to the Knicks was widely speculated, given his New York ties and CAA connections. However, the Knicks were hesitant to overpay, allowing the Cleveland Cavaliers to make a more significant offer and acquire him.

While Knicks fans may argue that their franchise made the right move based on last year’s playoffs when they eliminated Cleveland, the true evaluation of this trade will take time.

Perry’s assessment of Mitchell’s standing in the league is not entirely inaccurate. While Mitchell is undoubtedly a top 15 player, he does not reach the level of superstars like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid, Luka Doncic, or peak Stephen Curry. True solo franchise players are rare and typically do not switch teams frequently.

The Knicks reportedly offered two unprotected first-round picks, along with promising young players Quentin Grimes and Obi Toppin, in their trade offer for Mitchell. However, the Cavaliers eventually surpassed this offer, trading three unprotected first-round picks, two pick swaps, and players Lauri Markkanen, Collin Sexton, and Ochair Agbaji. The Cavaliers saw Mitchell as the missing piece to complement their existing talent and potentially become contenders in the future.

Knicks fans can find solace in the fact that retaining their draft picks and young players allows them to pursue other superstars who may become available in the future, such as Joel Embiid or Luka Doncic. The current Knicks administration is exercising patience, unlike their predecessors. While Mitchell may not have been the right fit for the Knicks, they are biding their time and waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike.

However, at some point, the Knicks will need to take action and make aggressive moves to improve their roster.

If the Cavaliers can build upon their success from last season and take the next step, they will be considered winners in the Mitchell trade. However, if they falter, the speculation about Mitchell’s future in Cleveland will likely intensify. Meanwhile, the Knicks will continue to be competitive and patiently wait for the right moment to pursue their desired targets. Mitchell simply wasn’t the right fit for their current plans.


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