The New York Knicks have stockpiled assets in search of a true superstar. Their nine first-round picks over the next five years have been collected with the intention of making a big move. The franchise may be in luck as Donovan Mitchell appears to be available as the Utah Jazz head into a full rebuild. Mitchell would be the best player to play for the Knicks in many years and would provide an immediate spark to the franchise.
While the Knicks are perceived as the favorite to land the Jazz star, it is far from a certainty. One of the potential hold-ups is whether or not to include RJ Barrett in the deal. Given the state of both franchises, this should be a no-brainer for New York. Here are three major reasons why the Knicks should be willing to include RJ Barrett in a trade if it lands them Donovan Mitchell.
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3 reasons Knicks must include RJ Barrett in Donovan Mitchell trade offer to Jazz
1) Knicks must differentiate themselves
The crazy trade market of the current NBA ensures there are set to be multiple offers for Donovan Mitchell. The Jazz have their sights set on rebuilding and will be looking for the best possible building blocks to make this happen. While draft picks are certain to be a part of this, providing a young player who has the potential to grow into a cornerstone is a real selling point.
The Knicks also have some other intriguing young players, but it is tough to imagine them as a trade centerpiece. Immanuel Quickly, Quentin Grimes, and Obi Toppin are all intriguing players but unlikely to move the trade meter in a major way. The best prospect on roster, in terms of overall potential, is clearly RJ Barrett.
The former 3rd overall pick is an intriguing talent. RJ Barrett has taken positive strides forward in all three seasons in the NBA. Last season Barrett averaged 20 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 3.0 assists. He also took some notable strides forward on the defensive side of the ball. While this has not translated to the team's success in the way the Knicks have hoped, he still is early in his developmental process. The 22-year-old took a step back in his shooting efficiency last season but flashed nonetheless.
2) Donovan Mitchell is what you hope RJ Barrett can become
While there is still a ton of potential for the player RJ Barrett can grow into, it is already clear who Donovan Mitchell is. The 25-year-old is a three-time all-star and a proven lead member of an efficient offense. Mitchell has career averages of 23.9 points, 4.5 assists, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.3 steals per game. He also has proven to be able to do it in the postseason and has averaged over 30 points per game in two of his five trips to the playoffs.
The Utah Jazz have ranked in the top three for offensive efficiency in each of the last three seasons with Donovan Mitchell running the show. His high-caliber shot creation opens up shots for the rest of the offense and helped provide great looks to the collection of three-point shooters Utah surrounded him with. Bringing this type of efficiency to New York should be a welcomed change. While Julius Randle and RJ Barret get their numbers and make their presence felt, neither are known for their efficiency splits.
3) Mitchell's Fit Alongside Jalen Brunson
Another notable storyline this offseason has been the Knicks' addition of Jalen Brunson. The franchise has been laying the groundwork for this move for quite some time and finalized it shortly into free agency. While Brunson is a fine player who will help the team, he is by no means a Grade A superstar.
The thought process for the move was to lay the groundwork to make the Knicks an attractive landing spot for a true star. Jalen Brunson has proven he is a capable second option who is effective on and off the ball. His ability to play off Luka Doncic was impressive and vital to the Mavs success. While Doncic is a special talent, Brunson would be able to play a similar role alongside Donovan Mitchell.
It also would be exciting to see if Mitchell could be further unlocked with Brunson next to him. He is a career 40% catch-and-shooter and Brunson would help create easier scoring opportunities. While Mike Conley effectively did this at times, Brunson projects as the better overall fit. With each player 25 years old and under contract for at least three more seasons, the backcourt holds exciting potential.
It also is important to note that this deal greatly depends on how the Jazz value RJ Barrett. He has made consistent improvements to his game, but there are differing opinions on his ceiling. If the Jazz have no interest in Barrett that is one thing. However, if RJ Barrett is the key to trading for Donovan Mitchell the Knicks should not think twice.