Will Donovan Mitchell find himself meeting the same fate as former Jazz teammate Rudy Gobert as Utah continues to steer toward a rebuild this summer?
Fast forward a few days, and Utah has changed its tune. At least according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, who reported Tuesday that the Jazz are "showing a willingness to listen on possible trade scenarios."
Mitchell's NBA trade availability this summer comes with a "steep" asking price, per Wojnarowski, but teams will still try to pry away the 25-year-old guard.
Here are five teams that have likely already picked up the phone to propose a deal to Utah:
1. New York Knicks
New York could have had Mitchell as a rookie but elected to draft Frank Ntilikina with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. Mitchell went five picks later to the Denver Nuggets, who immediately traded his rights to the Jazz.
Since that night, the Knicks have yet to find a top-flight NBA scorer on the perimeter. Adding Mitchell would resolve that issue, and make up for one of the bigger draft whiffs in franchise history.
Additionally, it would return Mitchell home -- he was born in Westchester County and grew up playing basketball throughout New England as an elite high school prospect.
On the court, Mitchell would pair up with the Knicks' prize free agent acquisition from this summer -- Jalen Brunson. With Brunson and Mitchell, the Knicks in theory would boast one of the league's most dynamic backcourt duos.
2. Toronto Raptors
With the Eastern Conference getting better and better with each offseason, the 2019 NBA champions must be feeling a bit obsolete. A big, splashy trade for Mitchell makes sense for a franchise that has been linked to Kevin Durant this offseason and also can offer a variety of draft picks and young talent to compensate Utah.
Players that could find themselves in Salt Lake City when this is all said and done include OG Anunoby, Fred Van Fleet, Thaddeus Young, and Khem Bitch.
Toronto seems steadfast in retaining Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes. The question therein lies: Would the Raptors part ways with their next best trade asset, Pascal Siakam?
Only time will tell.
3. Brooklyn Nets
Mitchell's New York roots make this a possible landing spot. Plus, if you haven't heard: Brooklyn is in a bit of a franchise upheaval at the present moment with Durant and Kyrie Irving both possibly heading out of town.
What remains clear for the Nets though is that they want to remain competitive in the 2022-23 season and beyond, having leveraged most of this decade's first-round draft selections in a trade to acquire James Harden from Houston last year.
And speaking of Harden and Houston ...
4. Houston Rockets
Jalen Green would likely have to be at the center of this trade package that would accelerate Houston's rebuild. The 20-year-old guard averaged 17.3 points in his first NBA season but the Rockets still wound up with the NBA's worst record during the 2021-22 season.
A proud franchise that was used to making the postseason every year in the Harden era might get impatient in waiting for Green and newcomer Jabari Smith Jr. to turn things around.
In a somewhat diluted Western Conference, a Mitchell-led Rockets team could pose a threat to teams like the Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Pelicans who are looking to avoid the NBA's play-in tournament this year.
5. Chicago Bulls
Like Toronto, the Bulls have to be looking at the Eastern Conference landscape and wondering what must they do to remain competitive at the very top -- and make a deep run into the postseason.
While their backcourt is seemingly solidified with Lonzo Ball, Zach LaVine, and DeMar DeRozan, the Bulls could take a swing at Mitchell by offering former No. 4 overall pick Patrick Williams and some future draft picks. If the franchise didn't want to leverage its future assets like it did at the 2021 NBA trade deadline, then it might just offer a two-for-one: DeRozan and Williams straight up for Mitchell.
DeRozan's productivity is unquestioned but with two years left on his deal, Mitchell makes more sense long term.
Honorable mentions: Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Philadelphia Sixers, and Boston Celtics.
Quickly on each of these five teams:
- Heat: You can never rule Pat Riley out of the mix when a superstar of Mitchell's caliber is available. Miami is also arguably the most attractive destination for NBA players.
- Lakers: If it's not Miami, then Los Angeles is a haven for star basketball players. LeBron James and Anthony Davis need a running mate this season if they're going to return to hoisting the Larry O'Brien Trophy like they did in the bubble. Do they have enough assets though to entertain Utah? Definitely not.
- Clippers: Similar to the Lakers, Los Angeles' other NBA team doesn't have a lot of draft capital to inspire much interest from a Jazz team looking to build through the draft. They do have an abundance of attractive wing players that could be shipped out of town.
- Sixers: Any trade package starts and stops with Tyrese Maxey's availability, and Philadelphia's unlikely to part ways with its emerging superstar guard so consider this that "stop." Can never rule out Daryl Morey though.
- Celtics: Like Philly, this package would likely include Marcus Smart -- and Boston's willingness to even consider breaking up it's "Big Three" after a Finals run in 2022. Another likely addition would be veteran big man Al Horford who's contract would help even the financial ledger. Another possible target is big man Robert Williams III.