NBA Rumors: Knicks Explored Trading Kristaps Porzingis For Jazz Superstar Donovan Mitchell In January

Donovan Mitchell #45 of the U.S. Team reacts after a play against the World Team during the 2019 Mtn Dew ICE Rising Stars at Spectrum Center on February 15, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Streeter Lecka / Getty Images

Many were surprised when Kristaps Porzingis demanded a trade from the New York Knicks before the February NBA trade deadline. With Porzingis no longer interested in becoming the face of the franchise, the Knicks were left with no choice but to find him a new home. The Knicks ended up trading Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews, and future draft picks.

Before they engaged in a blockbuster deal with the Mavericks, it was revealed that the Knicks also offered Porzingis to the Utah Jazz. According to Stefan Bondy of New York Daily News, the Knicks tried to use Porzingis as the main trade chip to acquire Donovan Mitchell, but the Jazz immediately turned down the offer.

“The Knicks tried to pry Mitchell away from the Jazz in January by dangling Kristaps Porzingis in a trade. But Utah resisted dealing its 23-year-old franchise star.”

Refusing to trade Donovan Mitchell for Kristaps Porzingis can be considered a no-brainer for the Jazz. Porzingis is undeniably an intriguing acquisition for the Jazz, but he is definitely not worth giving up for Mitchell, especially knowing that the Latvian center is still recovering from an ACL injury. While Porzingis was unable to help the Knicks reach the postseason, Mitchell led the Jazz to the Western Conference Playoffs during his rookie season in 2017-18.

In his second season, Donovan Mitchell has continued to show a massive improvement with his performance, and there is no doubt that he’s currently taking the right path to stardom. In 67 games, he is averaging 23.6 points, 4.1 assists, and 1.4 steals on 42.9 percent shooting from the field and 34.4 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Mitchell admitted that he’s aware of the rumors linking him to the Knicks and said that he’s very thankful that the Jazz decided to keep him instead of trading him for Kristaps Porzingis.

“I found out the same time everybody else found out,” Mitchell said. “They kept that one quiet on purpose. For me, I love Utah. I’m not concerned about anything else.”

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The Knicks could have been the one benefiting from Donovan Mitchell’s services if they only made the right decision in 2017. During the 2017 NBA Draft, the Knicks had the opportunity to pick Mitchell using the No. 8 overall pick. Instead of drafting Mitchell, the Knicks decided to select Frank Ntilikina. According to Bondy, the decision to pick Ntilikina over Mitchell is the “biggest Knicks draft mistake in recent years.”

Unlike Mitchell, Ntilikina has been a huge disappointment in his first two years in the NBA. This season, he is only averaging 5.9 points on 34.2 percent shooting from the field and 29.1 percent shooting from beyond the arc. With the emergence of Dennis Smith Jr., it remains a big question mark if the Knicks still consider Ntilikina as part of their long-term future.