Yet the Jazz initially signaled they weren't ready to part with Donovan Mitchell, an All-Star in his prime on a team with no prospect of contending anytime soon. Now it appears that they're at least open to dealing Mitchell. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Tuesday the Jazz "are showing a willingness to listen on possible trade scenarios."
Meanwhile, The Athletic's Jazz beat reporter Tony Jones reported the bar for dealing Mitchell remains "sky high," but they're open to a trade that's too good to turn down. This appears to have been the bar for Gobert, who netted the Jazz four first-round picks, a pick swap and and a group of players that includes 2022 first-rounder Walker Kessler in return.
Logic dictates that Utah will eventually deal Mitchell, who doesn't fit Utah's timeline of rebuilding with a stockpile of future draft picks. That they'd prefer to do so with a bidding war also makes sense. So where might Mitchell land if he does get dealt?
New York Knicks
It's no secret the Knicks covet Mitchell. The feeling might be mutual for the New York state native. The Knicks are in a perpetual state of trying to acquire star power, and the allure of a high-octane scorer with playoff experience is obvious for a Knicks team reeling from a disappointing season that ended in the lottery.
The 2021-22 was supposed to be a season of ascendance in New York following the franchise's first playoff appearance since 2013. Instead, the Knicks regressed to their losing ways (37-45). Mitchell, a career 23.9 points per game scorer and 36.1% 3-point shooter, would inject a boost of exactly what the Knicks need. New York ranked 26th last season with 106.5 points per game and 23rd in offensive rating. If they're going to return to the postseason, they need help scoring the ball — even if Mitchell doesn't fit Tom Thibodeau's defense-first mantra.
New York's already made the less-splashy acquisition of Jalen Brunson this offseason. It's not the kind of move to make a difference in an increasingly competitive Eastern Conference. But adding Mitchell alongside Julius Randle and an emerging RJ Barrett sounds like a recipe to return to the postseason. It doesn't, however, add up to contention alongside top East teams in Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Boston and Miami.
And that's the crux of the negotiations for New York. Are they willing to mortgage their future for a player who definitely improves them but isn't likely to take them over the top? They have the assets if they choose to do so, with multiple first-round picks across upcoming drafts.
Is trading them for Mitchell a la the Gobert-Wolves deal something they should do? Probably not. Does it sound like something they would do? Absolutely.
The Heat have likewise been linked to interest in Mitchell. Unlike the Knicks, they're a player away from serious contention. They posted the East's best regular season record last season and have advanced to the conference finals in two of the last three seasons, including a bubble trip to the Finals in 2020. But when faced with better rosters deep in the playoffs, they've fallen short of the necessary firepower to win a championship.
Mitchell could certainly help the cause. With apologies to Max Strus and Duncan Robinson, he's a significant upgrade on the wing who could immediately slot in as Miami's go-to scorer. Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo would still eat, of course. But Mitchell's scoring prowess would allow both to expend more energy elsewhere on the court.
Which brings us to Tyler Herro. In a perfect Heat world, a Mitchell deal would allow Herro to continue to come off the bench as the league's top sixth-man scoring threat. But any reality that involves Mitchell donning Heat gear likely includes Herro heading to Salt Lake City in return. Herro's one of the league's most bandied-about trade chips and the most likely centerpiece of any trade for Mitchell. Miami would have to offer significantly more, of course. And it doesn't boast the draft capital New York has to offer.
Bonus points here for the hypothetical conspiracy theories inspired if the Heat swindle the Jazz and part-owner Dwyane Wade.
While the Knicks and the Heat are the teams most credibly linked to having interest in Mitchell, the report that he's actually on the market is certain to drum up interest from other contenders. Would the Dallas Mavericks throw their hat in the ring? A Luka Doncic-Mitchell pairing is certainly intriguing, and the Mavericks have a backcourt need following Brunson's departure.
How about the Brooklyn Nets? What the biggest wild card of the offseason does next is anyone's guess. They're apparently fed up with Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Durant reportedly wants out. Could they put together a deal for Mitchell that might sway Durant to stay?
The Atlanta Hawks have also been linked to Mitchell. But that was before they added Dejounte Murray to an already crowded backcourt. Wilder things have happened, though. See Minnesota mortgaging its future to pair up Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns in the post.
The good news for Utah is that it only takes two suitors to drive up the price for Mitchell. That is if they are legitimately interested in trading their 25-year All-Star.