Major Move for Mitchell Coming to New York?


Despite their longtime disdain for the Boston Celtics, many fans of the New York Knicks were quite pleased with the Celtics’ opening-round sweep in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

The Brooklyn Nets ended up winning as many playoff games as the Knicks did this season. 

It was a satisfying result for most Knicks followers, except for maybe Spike Lee, who decided to briefly jump on the Nets’ bandwagon before it quickly was run off the postseason road. But rooting for others to fail during the playoffs while your team sits out is reflective of a continuing disappointing situation at Madison Square Garden. 

The Nets should just change their name to the Sonics and move to Seattle, because New York will always belong decisively to the Knicks. In New York City, basketball is the one sport where only one team truly matters to the fans. The Mets, Jets and Islanders all have significant followings in the other three major sports, even if their neighbors have enjoyed more success in recent decades. 

So now that Knicks fans are finished chuckling about the Nets, what is next for them? 

Where Are The Knicks Headed This Offseason?

The Donovan Mitchell Dream

The biggest offseason story may be whether Donovan Mitchell tries to force a trade out of Utah to orchestrate a New York homecoming. Mitchell has the potential to change the player-movement narrative that surrounds the Knicks. Opposing players love to come to MSG to perform, but most superstars just want to visit, not stay. 

The Garden is the biggest stage in the NBA, but often to showcase the league rather than spotlight the home team. The Knicks have repeatedly been linked to available superstars, but they always seem to land elsewhere.

Mitchell, however, is different, New York is his hometown, and it is widely assumed that he would want to play for the Knicks if he can force his way out of Utah. It would be a major return for a homegrown star, like when Carmelo Anthony and Bernard King came back to New York in eras of the past. 

Mitchell could lure other standout players to New York, and possibly change the direction of the franchise. But outside of a possible Mitchell deal, the 2022-23 Knicks may not look too much different in terms of impact players. Most notably, we will have to see if Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson are staying or going. 

Randle’s Future

Trade rumors are swirling around Randle after a disappointing 2021-22 campaign. The Knicks made the mistake of believing he could be the crux of the team’s continued success after his fine regular season a year before. But the Knicks were exposed by Atlanta in the playoffs, as Randle’s lack of consistent offensive help became woefully apparent, and the Knicks did nothing to fix it in the previous offseason. 

Randle can still possibly be a prime weapon on an offense that includes another significant standout scorer, but outside of gunning for Mitchell, the Knicks seem unlikely to add another potent offensive source.

So, it is possible Randle could be moved to open a clearer path to playing time for Obi Toppin. Randle can be better off getting traded into a situation where he gets more offensive help to take pressure off him, something that may not happen any time soon in New York. He may flourish as a No. 2 offensive option with another team. 

Is a Youth Movement Ahead For the New York Knicks?

Robinson may get priced out of returning to the Knicks after proving his worth to them and other potential suitors this past season. He is a stout presence in the interior from a defensive and rebounding perspective, and while his offensive contributions have not been impressive overall, he does know when and how to come up with timely buckets.

If he is gone, he will certainly be missed. Jericho Sims, however, impressed later in the most-recent campaign. He is a tenacious battler inside and willingly crashes the boards on both sides of the floor. 

New York will definitely unload Kemba Walker, but could also attempt to trade away other veterans like Alec Burks or Nerlens Noel. The Knicks do have a plethora of available draft choices to facilitate a major deal if one comes along, but again, availability of superstars may be scarce unless Mitchell creates the hoped scenario. 

The Knicks have drafted well recently, and should attempt to clear more playing time or paths to larger roles for guys like Toppin, Immanuel Quickley and Quentin Grimes. Plus, there should be an interesting haul in this season’s draft. The Knicks may have their eyes on a bigger offseason next year while adjusting their core to accommodate some potential key performers for the future.

In the meantime, the biggest acquisition may be to land a point guard, such as Jalen Brunson or Tyus Jones

We will have to wait and see if a big move for the hometown guy is coming or not because if not, the focus will likely be on building for the years ahead while remaining competitive and respectable in 2022-23. In last year’s offseason, Knicks fans were looking for the next step towards contention. Now the view has been reset for a better potential future past the upcoming season.

If no major move for Mitchell happens, Knicks fans will have to continue to exercise patience.

About The Game Day's Scott Engel

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