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Number of unprotected picks reported sticking point between Knicks, Jazz in Mitchell trade

Phoenix Suns v Utah Jazz

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH - JANUARY 26: Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz looks on before a game at Vivint Smart Home Arena on January 26, 2022 in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

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The Knicks and Jazz are talking Donovan Mitchell trade again, with the Knicks latest offer reportedly being Evan Fournier, Obi Toppin, two unprotected first-round draft picks and three protected ones (picks the Knicks collected through trades), plus maybe another player to match the salaries.

Danny Ainge and the Jazz reportedly want “significantly” more than that. What’s the sticking point? The number of unprotected first-round picks, reports Marc Berman at the New York Post.

According to sources, Jazz president Danny Ainge and Knicks president Leon Rose are at a Donovan Mitchell stalemate over really one thing — the amount of “unprotected” first-round picks in the package...

A source told The Post Ainge is after four unprotected first-round picks — not just two. That’s no small gap.

In fact, Ainge doesn’t have many strong preferences on the players coming back, though shooting guard Quentin Grimes certainly is high on his list. The Knicks, too, aren’t concerned with the exact player package — just the amount of first-round picks they give up.

In the Rudy Gobert trade — which many front office people around the league saw as an overpay by Minnesota — Ainge and the Jazz received three unprotected firsts (2023, 2025, and 2027) and a top-four protected pick in 2029 (plus a pick swap in 2026). Ainge feels he should get more for the younger Mitchell.

The Knicks want Mitchell, believing he vaults them into the top six in the East, but are hesitant to give up too much because it would tie their hands for future moves as they try to move into contender status. Rose has been patient and not rushed into deals, overpaying just to bring in a star — a needed break from a long-running Knicks tradition — and he shouldn’t rush now. The Heat can only offer three first-round picks, a couple of them unprotected, plus Tyler Herro. There is no rush for the Knicks to suddenly up their offer. There is no bidding war taking place.

Maybe the compromise is three unprotected first-rounders (with fewer other picks and no Quentin Grimes in the deal). On the other hand, maybe the Knicks don’t see the need to add that extra pick.

Just don’t think that a Mitchell trade is imminent. This situation could still drag out into training camp (which opens in five weeks).