Donovan Mitchell's time with the Utah Jazz is unofficially over. They are ready to trade him and several teams are showing interest. The New York Knicks are leading the pursuit but the Miami Heat are still in pursuit. The biggest question surrounding the Knicks' pursuit will be whether RJ Barrett is included in the deal.

Barrett is coming off of a season averaging 20.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. It would make total sense for the Jazz to ask for him as a trade, even as his contract requires extending. But it's in the Knicks' best interests to keep Barrett at all costs.

Although including Barrett in a deal for Mitchell would make the Knicks' package more appealing, New York has to keep him out of trade talks for the Jazz star.

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3 reasons Knicks must not include RJ Barrett in Donovan Mitchell trade offer to Jazz

3. They potentially have the resources to get a trade done without him

Including Barrett in a Mitchell trade would certainly make it much easier to get done. It would also help the Knicks beat out the Heat's package since Barrett reportedly has more trade value than Miami's Tyler Herro. However, New York has the ability to pull off a Mitchell trade without including him.

New York has a vast collection of draft capital. They have all of their first-round picks moving forward, four extra first-round picks (each of which are protected) and several second-rounders. As Utah looks to rebuild, they are prioritizing draft picks in the return for Mitchell. The Knicks can get them what they want while keeping their most coveted player.

Utah is also interested in acquiring Quentin Grimes and the Knicks could offer Immanuel Quickley now that they have Brunson. Using those two youngsters and a boatload of draft picks could satisfy Utah's demands. The Knicks should hesitate to trade Barrett, their best asset, because of his importance to the team, with or without Mitchell.

2. Barrett is the key to the Knicks' future

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Since the moment he was drafted third overall in the 2019 draft, Barrett has been the biggest part of the Knicks' future. As he continues to improve, he only becomes a bigger part.

Without Mithell, Barrett is the biggest building block for the Knicks' future. His blend of scoring, defense and playmaking has made him a rising star. The 22-year-old is not far away from being an All-Star and New York should keep this in mind as they engage in trade talks.

While having Mitchell would be great for the Knicks, they are not totally up a creek without a paddle at the moment. Barrett becoming as good as Mitchell is no guarantee but he is still on a trajectory to becoming one of the best players in the league. New York has a very good young player to fall back on if the Mitchell trade talks stall out.

Although Mitchell would instantly become the key to the Knicks' future if he gets traded for Barrett, that future would not be a very exciting one for the three-time All-Star.

1. Barrett will be Mitchell's key wingman

If the Knicks want to make a Mitchell trade worth their while, they have to keep the team around him good. The clearest way to do that is to retain Barrett.

If Barrett heads to Utah, Mitchell's main support pieces would be Brunson, Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson. That core of players would not be good enough to contend for a title. Without Barrett alongside Mitchell, the Knicks' ceiling would be very limited and they would most likely end up having to trade Mitchell again by the time his contract ends.

Adding Mitchell at the cost of Barrett and several draft picks (and/or other players) would improve New York, no doubt. But it would also leave them with less space to continue getting better. The Jazz failed with Mitchell because his biggest co-star was Rudy Gobert. Brunson will certainly help but, unless he carries his playoff performances over to the regular season, he's better suited to play a part next to stars rather than be one himself.

A Brunson-Mitchell pairing would be a solid foundation but not one that could get the Knicks over the hump. With Barrett alongside them, they would have a frontcourt full of options that could grow together into a playoff team.

The Knicks' ultimate goal should be to pair RJ Barrett and Donovan Mitchell together. That duo is key to building the Knicks into a strong team again. New York should offer every draft pick they can and their young players before offering Barrett.