Donovan Mitchell, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, is both “surprised and disappointed,” with Sunday’s news that Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder has resigned after eight seasons helming the team. Snyder is the only head coach Mitchell has played for during his five seasons in Utah. Wojnarowski also used the words “unsettled” and “unnerved” in describing Mitchell’s disposition.
Mitchell, a three-time All-Star who has averaged 20+ points per game in every season of his career, just completed year one of his five year rookie max contract extension. He is under Jazz control until 2025, when he has a $37 million player option.
There have long been rumors of other teams Mitchell could be eyeing, coming in tandem with the Jazz’s yearly playoff shortcomings. Utah has made the playoffs in each of Mitchell’s five seasons (very good), but have also exited the postseason before the Conference Finals in each of Mitchell’s five seasons (not as good).
Mitchell is from New York, and trains every offseason in Miami. The Knicks and the Heat have had needs for a strong guard scorer like Spida for the past few years, and assets to play with. They are the two public favorites for a landing spot, although no Vegas odds have been set for Mitchell’s 2022-23 team. Once the odds come out is when stuff officially gets real.
Rumors have swirled for years about whether Salt Lake City is big enough for Mitchell and teammate Rudy Gobert. The three-time Defensive Player of the Year from France has been the center of both more and more substantiated trade rumors since the Jazz lost in the first round in April.
In the meantime until Sin City puts numbers up, let’s look at spots that make the most sense.
Jazz receive: Tyler Herro, Kyle Lowry, PJ Tucker, pick 27, 2023 unprotected first round pick, 2025 first round pick (protected 15-30)
Heat receive: Donovan Mitchell, Juancho Hernangomez
This package is contingent on a Jazz plan to win immediately, without taking any steps backward. Tyler Herro is underrated because he doesn’t start games. He’s 22 years old and just averaged 21-5-4 on 45/40/87 shooting. He truly has as much experience as is possible for someone that just had their first legal drink last year, having gone to the Finals as a rookie and the ECF this year. He was 0.8 points shy of being the leading scorer on the 1 seed while coming off the bench! There is a case that he is the best right now player Utah gets for Mitchell.
PJ Tucker and Kyle Lowry are on the very final legs of their careers, but will be quite useful next season. Lowry will be healthier and better next season, giving the Jazz an awesome passer, defender, shooter, and winner. Tucker seems to not age (he’ll turn 38 next playoffs), brings physicality and rebounding the Jazz need, and is an expiring. Lowry should give Utah a great year of usefulness, and then become a $30 million expiring that could help them further maneuver.
The picks are whatever, but the Jazz rarely make selections, so they’re at worst further trade ammo, and good insurance to have should things blow up in their face (or Miami’s).
NEW YORK KNICKS
Jazz receive: Pick 11, Obi Toppin, Immanuel Quickley, Derrick Rose, Taj Gibson, 2024 unprotected first round pick
Knicks receive: Donovan Mitchell
Jazz receive: Julius Randle, Cam Reddish, pick 11, pick 42, 2023 lottery protected first round pick
Knicks receive: Donovan Mitchell
Package 1: The Knicks can’t offer the Jazz a centerpiece young prospect. They have an amalgamation of “nice” prospects, though, and have every single one of their picks. Seriously. The futile franchise that is the New York Knickerbockers has zero outgoing picks. So they can throw literally infinite combinations at Utah and find one they like. If you don’t like their package, you can fuss with it and move around a million different things. Making this package is a headache and a half, but that means the Knicks have ammo. Rose is a salary match and probably more attractive than Evan Fournier because he’s an expiring. In a youth package, it doesn’t matter that Evan’s the better player.
Package 2: The win-now package. Randle is the Knicks best player until further notice (not RJ Barrett slander, RJ Barrett realism). That further notice probably comes next season, and New York is very down on its 2021 All-NBA selection. Still, he’s 27 and one year removed from freaking 24-10-6 on above average efficiency, a year where he led a now-evidently poor team to a homecourt playoff series. Reddish will give athleticism and defense on the wing, and has the potential to become a 4th-5th starter. Picks 11 and 42 can get two more win-now players (Bennedict Mathurin or Johnny Davis come to mind as replacement ball handlers).
Jazz receive: Fred VanVleet, Gary Trent, Jr.
Raptors receive: Donovan Mitchell
A dark horse for sure, Toronto is not rebuilding. They’re on the brink of a transition into a third iteration of success under GM Masai Ujiri. DeRozan and Lowry to Kawhi and Lowry to Siakam and we’ll see. It looks to be All-Rookie selection Scottie Barnes, and if it ends up being three guys, The North ought rejoice.
Freddie Velvet made his first All-Star team last season, and deservedly so. He’s put up 20-4.5-6.5 on HIGH volume three-point shooting and great defense over the past two seasons, and Utah could lock him up for all of his prime. Gary Trent, Jr. is 23 years old, and another terrific sharpshooter on high volume (39.1% on almost 7 attempts the past three seasons). He’s big and strong at the 2-3 spot, which we continue to stress as a massive roster flaw for the Jazz.
Jazz receive: Pick 5, Jerami Grant, Killian Hayes, Kelly Olynyk
Pistons receive: Donovan Mitchell
A reloading look. Jerami Grant has averaged 21 points over the past two seasons. He’s a quality off-ball shooter and dangerous athlete at power forward, who has diversified his game through high usage in Detroit. With a more structured and contentious roster around him, he has the ability to defend well, and would create an interesting frontcourt alongside Rudy Gobert.
Pick 5 could be spent on guard Shaedon Sharpe, who could have the highest ceiling in the draft, or any litany of players at all five positions that balance winning now and winning later.
Killian Hayes is a defense and playmaking guard, who was a top 7 pick two years ago and is still only 20 years old. He may not reach his massive pre-draft potential, but he offers a great complement to Mike Conley at 6’5”, and represents a chance to take over the reins in a direction different than Mitchell.
Kelly Olynyk has the potential to be a perfect additional complement to Gobert in the short term. If he gets back to peak pre-injury form, he’s the epitome of a stretch four, as well as a sneaky fine and rangy defender.
Jazz receive: Pick 6, Malcolm Brogdon, Chris Duarte, 2023 unprotected first round pick, right to swap first round picks in 2024
Pacers receive: Donovan Mitchell
This is a similar win-now and maybe later package as the one from Detroit. Brogdon is a little bit of a wonky fit next to Conley, but is a legit scorer and passer when healthy. Duarte was picked in the 2021 lottery at age 24 to help Indiana win right away, and he does that as a two-way wing.
Pick 6 is pick 6, much like pick 5 from Detroit. 2023’s first round pick will be a lottery selection and potentially top 10 from an Indy team that tore its whole roster down this year. In 2024, either of these teams could be good or bad, so future safety helps.
SAN ANTONIO SPURS
Jazz receive: Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassell, pick 20, pick 25, 2023 unprotected first round pick, 2023 Pacers’ second round pick
Spurs receive: Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gay, Juancho Hernangomez
The Spurs are known players for Zach LaVine, but he looks likely to stay put in Chicago. Donovan is a similar and similar quality player to LaVine, a couple years younger, and would cost approximately $9 million less per year.
Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell give Utah the combination of offense and defense on the wing they’ve been desirous of since Gordon Hayward left five years ago.
Johnson won an Olympic Gold Medal in Tokyo last summer under coach Gregg Popovich. He averaged 17 points and 6 rebounds on 47-40-76 shooting. He’s really strong.
Vassell is a 3 and D specialist that fills a need. He was the 11th pick in 2020, and started to show more and more every single game last season. He should be a legit starter soon.
Vassell (21) and Johnson (22) are entering their third and fourth seasons, respectively. They give the Jazz a good avenue to reset their timeline, or push back into contention over the duration of Rudy Gobert’s contract, which runs through 2026.
The picks give Utah a lot of options. The Spurs have a lot of cap space, so the inclusions of Gay and Hernangomez into it also incentivizes the cash-strapped Jazz, who would gain another $12.7 million in space by shedding the duo. San Antonio also holds the 9th pick in the draft, so that pick assortment could also end up taking a more immediate direction.