donovan mitchell knicks
Ron Chenoy | USA TODAY Sports

If you don’t see these Donovan Mitchell/Knicks trade rumors and don’t immediately think of Carmelo Anthony, then you clearly don’t remember your history.

SNY’s Ian Begley recently noted the Jazz “certainly” would like young star RJ Barrett in any deal for Mitchell. This should immediately sound the alarm for any and all Knicks fans, even if Barrett’s extension insulates him. If the Anthony trade taught us anything, it’s that gutting an exciting team for a star is never worth it.

Granted, Mitchell’s circumstances are different. The Jazz seem headed in a different direction and already dealt star center Rudy Gobert to Minnesota. Furthermore, the Timberwolves gave up four first-round picks. The Knicks, meanwhile, are practically drowning in draft capital. It’s highly unprecedented, given the team’s history, but team president Leon Rose and general manager Scott Perry clearly see draft leverage as a priority. They have plenty to offer in that department when it comes to a trade for Mitchell.

But Utah will also want players back in a deal for Mitchell and the Knicks have plenty to offer there too. Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin are ready to take the next step on the Knicks or any other team. Quentin Grimes is a solid three-and-D in New York, but could probably play minutes in an extended role elsewhere.

Yet, per Begley, the Knicks’ front office seems divided on whether to include Barrett or not. The answer should be simple: A hard no.

The main reason is even simpler. Mitchell isn’t entirely unhappy in Utah and signed a five-year rookie extension in December 2020. He also hasn’t formally requested a trade, giving Utah even more of the upper hand in negotiations.

Contrastingly, the Anthony trade was completely different. He asked for a trade because he didn’t want to sign an extension with the Nuggets. The Knicks and Nets became the two favorites to land him, and the Knicks overpaid to make it a reality. Anthony then signed an extension with the Knicks and a max contract a few years later.

All this to say, the Knicks shouldn’t trade Barrett or a large package of talent for Mitchell. He’s just too important to their future and keeps getting better and better as a player. He’s just 22 and seems to be quietly knocking on the door of elite status. Great as Mitchell and his 23.9 career points per game are, they aren’t worth losing Barrett. He has just as much potential to be an Anthony-sized albatross as he does a boon.

Instead, a package built around Quickley, one or both of Toppin or Grimes, Derrick Rose, and draft picks should be more than enough. If Utah is willing to take on either Julius Randle or Evan Fournier’s contracts, all the better. The point is the Knicks have a fun young team that has even more potential with Jalen Brunson in the picture. Plus, the Jazz will surely send some players to New York with Mitchell.

Not to mention that for all of his flaws, Rose has definitely been more Dave Checketts than he has Isiah Thomas during his brief Knicks tenure. It’s frustrating but it’s the truth. Hoarding all these draft picks is either the greatest long con since “Trust the Process,” or he knows exactly who he wants on the Knicks and when. Mitchell is clearly one of those players.

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported on his podcast that the Jazz want a deal done before training camp starts Sept. 28. The Nets would have to give up Ben Simmons to land him, which won’t happen. The Heat won’t give up Bam Adebayo if they’re smart. This makes Mitchell the Knicks’ to lose. But they cannot pay an Anthony-level price for him.

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Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.