Bulls shouldn’t be worried about Donovan Mitchell trade rumors

Zach LaVine, Donovan Mitchell, Chicago Bulls (Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports)
Zach LaVine, Donovan Mitchell, Chicago Bulls (Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports) /

Now that the smoke has cleared and the draft, free agency, and Kevin Durant’s manufactured trade drama have all subsided, the Chicago Bulls and most other teams can finally turn their heads towards preparation for the upcoming 2022-23 campaign.

There are a few exceptions, however, as the Utah Jazz are still navigating a tricky situation with their star guard Donovan Mitchell. Most experts presumed the Jazz would also look to capitalize on Mitchell’s trade value after the blockbuster exchange that sent fellow star big man Rudy Gobert to Minnesota. Instead, they’re in a state of flux as we await news of Mitchell’s future.

With three guaranteed years (and a player option) still on Mitchell’s contract, Utah doesn’t actually have to rush things just yet. They’ll continue actively looking for the best trade package possible, even if their search carries on over into the regular season.

As reported by The Athletic’s Tony Jones, if Mitchell were to be traded he’d prefer to land in one of three destinations: Brooklyn, Miami, or New York. As we’ve seen with the ongoing Kevin Durant saga, leaking a list of potential trade partners is far from a sure thing, but at the very least it’s a good starting point.

Even if Donovan Mitchell is dealt to an Eastern Conference hopeful, the Chicago Bulls should remain largely unaffected by his presence.

As a New York native, Mitchell has made his affiliations with the city and desire to play there no secret. For that reason, the Nets and Knicks were always going to be near the top of his list. The real surprise here is Miami, which has become quite the premiere destination for the NBA’s top free agents over the last decade.

However, the Heat likely lack the necessary assets to pull off a trade for Mitchell, while the Nets are tiptoeing a tricky legal situation where they cannot trade for Mitchell while having another designated rookie extension contract on the books in Ben Simmons. This is all compounded by the fact that the Jazz will likely pursue a haul similar to the one they got for Gobert, which would absolutely decimate the depth and flexibility of most contending teams, with Miami and Brooklyn being no exception here.

That leaves the Knicks, who weren’t particularly good before the discussed deal, and will only sacrifice even more of their young talent to make a potential Donovan Mitchell trade go down. R.J. Barrett has yet to take the leap New York has wanted from him, while Julius Randle has become almost a net negative with his on-court antics and clear state of emotional frustration.

Worst of all, the Knicks just handed over a boatload of money to free agent Jalen Brunson, whose skill set is almost identical to Mitchell’s and would leave the Knicks’ backcourt starved for defense and off-ball production. If Brunson wasn’t cutting it as Luka Doncic’s sidekick, it’s entirely illogical to believe his issues will solve themselves alongside Mitchell.

If the Knicks truly do want to make some noise, it makes sense to pursue a player with an impressive postseason pedigree like Mitchell. However, it remains to be seen if this team has the talent necessary to even make the playoffs in the first place, especially in an Eastern Conference that’s looking deeper and more competitive than ever.

At the end of the day, the Knicks — or any team that trades for Mitchell, for that matter — have to face the same fundamental problem. The massive Gobert trade package has completely disrupted the trade market, meaning Mitchell won’t be sold for pennies on the dollar like we’ve seen in the past with stars like Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler in the past.

Anyone who acquires Mitchell will likely have to sacrifice more than they’re comfortable with, meaning the trade could backfire down the line. The Chicago Bulls are fortunate to have finally found adequate talent at the guard positions and can comfortably avoid this whole situation. The Chicago Bulls may not end up becoming the 2023 NBA champions, but I feel quite comfortable stating that Donovan Mitchell won’t be the one to eliminate them when it’s all said and done.

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