The Toronto Raptors have been trying their hardest to ensure Kevin Durant makes the roster, but he’s not the only game-changer Masai Ujiri has his sights set on. Jazz star Donovan Mitchell has been locked in trade talks in recent months as Danny Ainge eyed a Utah remodel.
Mitchell, who has scored at least 20 points per game every year he has been in the league and averaged just under 26 per game last year, was targeted by the New York Knicks. Tom Thibodeau and Leon Rose need star acquisition to bring this ragtag group back to the playoffs.
While Mitchell hasn’t necessarily been as doggedly pursued by Toronto as Durant, the idea of him and Fred VanVleet sharing the same backcourt could be offensively dynamic enough to make the Raptors a contender. The only problem is the Knicks made Utah a very compelling bid that Toronto may not be able to match.
Shams Charania reports that the Knicks offered Utah Evan Fournier, former top 10 pick Obi Toppin and five first-round picks in exchange for Mitchell. Can the Raptors beat the Knicks, or will they get stuck behind the Knicks forever in the Mitchell chase?
Will the Toronto Raptors lose Donovan Mitchell to the Knicks?
In terms of win-now assets, the Raptors clearly have more to offer than New York. One of OG Anunoby or Gary Trent Jr. could be the headliner in a Trent trade, but it looks like the Jazz are prioritizing getting as many draft picks as possible rather than some win-now assets in return to get.
The Raptors were willing to trade future draft picks in exchange for players who can help them win now, but they were unwilling to give up several years of draft control. Mitchell would be a huge boost, but his acquisition would require a major shift in corporate philosophy.
A trade may not be as close as it seems as Utah reportedly wants the Knicks to bid even more in exchange before trading with Mitchell. However, if the Jazz still want all the picks, the Raptors may not be able to acquire Mitchell at this point.
The Knicks acquired tons of heavily protected future first-round picks during the 2022 NBA draft for this very scenario. The Raptors might not like the idea of playing Mitchell four times a year in the division, but they might have to brace themselves for that unfortunate reality unless a major reversal occurs.