Knicks fans can forget about Dononvan Mitchell, but what about Victor Oladipo?

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Ian Begley
·3 min read
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Donovan Mitchell/Victor Oladipo
Donovan Mitchell/Victor Oladipo

If you’re a Knick fan who woke up Wednesday morning dreaming about Donovan Mitchell landing in New York this offseason, you can forget about it.

Yahoo! Sports reports that Mitchell and the Utah Jazz will agree to a max contract extension in mid-October.

ESPN’s Bobby Marks lays out the details on Mitchell’s potential extension in his ESPN Insider story on Utah’s offseason.

Due to the finances involved, it was always highly unlikely that Mitchell would leave Utah this offseason, and that’s particularly true this season. How can any player leave nearly $160 million on the table given the NBA’s uncertain financial future?

Earlier in the season, some of Mitchell’s teammates privately expressed uncertainty over whether he’d remain with the Jazz long-term. But that was based off things they’d observed/heard during the year. Situations can always change. (One example? During the 2018-19 season, several of Kevin Durant’s teammates felt that he was going to sign with the Knicks in free agency. That obviously didn’t happen).

With Mitchell and the Jazz reportedly set to agree on an extension, you can rule him out of any Knicks-related speculation. (As an aside, one rival executive said in March that he thought a Knicks package for Mitchell would have to start with multiple first-round picks and Mitchell Robinson or RJ Barrett, which is a significant price to pay.)

Until one of these CAA players on long-term deals everyone is speculating about (Mitchell, Devin Booker, Joel Embiid) makes a tangible move by asking for a trade, anything that ties them to the Knicks -- or any other team -- is premature.

A player like Victor Oladipo is different. As we noted in May, teams will be keeping an eye on the Indiana Pacers as potential trade partners -- and looking at Oladipo’s situation in particular. Extension talks between Oladipo and Indiana didn’t go far last fall -- at one point, a four-year deal worth roughly $80 million was offered.

Oladipo is coming off of a difficult injury and will be a free agent in 2021.

If the Pacers have concerns about signing him to a large deal in 2021, you’d think that they will strongly consider trading the guard. So Oladipo’s pending free agency makes him a more realistic trade target than a player like Mitchell. (Bradley Beal and Zach LaVine also fit that profile.

Whether the Knicks would have interest in a player like Oladipo is unknown. Certainly, there are people in the organization who see Oladipo as a valuable addition. But I don’t have a clear idea on how top Knick decision-makers value Oladipo, who could overlap positionally with Barrett. (It would be a risk for a rebuilding team like the Knicks to give up significant assets for a player who has injury concerns.)

One last note here: the idea that the Knicks can make a solid offer for any player that becomes available via trade is another reason it’s misguided to fully judge the Kristaps Porzingis trade right now.

If the Knicks use the assets that they acquired – directly or indirectly – from the Porzingis trade to facilitate a trade for a young star, the Porzingis deal would be viewed differently. It’s also misguided to judge the trade in total after Porzingis suffered a torn meniscus that kept him out of most of Dallas’ series against the Clippers.

There are legitimate reasons to be concerned about Porzingis’ ability to stay healthy. But if he comes back next season healthy and produces at a high level over the course of his career in Dallas, the trade will probably continue to look bad for the Knicks.

Obviously, the Knicks traded Porzingis with the hope of landing two big free agents last summer. That didn’t happen. That’s why the Knicks, as currently constituted, lost that trade. Badly.

But I think it’s premature to judge the trade in totality until all assets are exhausted.