Does Durant, Nets Truce Help Jazz Trade Donovan Mitchell?

Aug 23, 2022, 2:37 PM
Donovan Mitchell - Utah Jazz - Miami Heat...
Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) goes around Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo (13) for a lay up as the Utah Jazz and the Miami Heat play an NBA basketball game at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021. (Courtesy of Deseret News)
(Courtesy of Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – After Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets reconciled their fractured relationship and agreed to proceed together as a unit, all eyes turned to the Utah Jazz and Donovan Mitchell.

Durant was the top available asset in talks this summer after the forward requested a trade to Nets owner Joe Tsai in early July.

However, after nearly two months of discussion, the Nets announced that both sides had agreed to continue their partnership on the court, removing Durant from the trade market.

With Durant off the market, Mitchell moves atop to list of available assets this offseason, and that’s good news for the Jazz.

The Jazz have held trade talks involving Mitchell across the league over the last two months with the New York Knicks viewed as the frontrunners.

The Washington Wizards and Charlotte Hornets have both been mentioned as franchises interested in the guard, while Miami and Toronto had their attention fixed on Durant.

As the Heat and Raptors settle into the idea that Durant is off the table, their interest in Mitchell has the potential to rise, placing the Jazz at the center of a seller’s market.

But perhaps more pertinent to the Jazz is how it lessens the bargaining power of the Knicks.

On Monday, The Athletic reported that the Knicks had offered the Jazz a package of Evan Fournier, Obi Toppin, and other unnamed players needed to match salaries, plus five first-round picks, two of which were unprotected.

Though the rumored deal clearly didn’t match the Jazz asking price, it’s close to the framework of what a trade for Mitchell will look like.

The Jazz will want significant draft capital, young players with potential, and additional tradable assets, and the Knicks have at the very least made a competitive offer.

One benefit for the Jazz with the Nets deciding to stand pat is that while an asset of Durant’s caliber was removed from the market, the assets to acquire him were not.

Had Toronto or Miami traded for Durant, the draft picks and young players they would have sent to Brooklyn to land the superstar would no longer be available in trade talks. But with Durant simply off the market, those assets remain, while the supply of All-Stars diminished dramatically.

Now, does that mean the offers the Heat, Raptors, or even the Phoenix Suns and Memphis Grizzlies had made for Durant immediately transfer to the Jazz for Mitchell? The answer is no.

Durant is a superior player to Mitchell and teams won’t pay the same price to the Jazz as they were willing to pay Brooklyn. But it may create some urgency for teams like the Knicks to offer the Jazz their top package, rather than risk a new buyer wooing the Jazz in the Mitchell sweepstakes.

The Jazz, under Danny Ainge’s patient and watchful eye don’t need to adjust their asking price for Mitchell. But with Durant off the market, they hold the most valuable available trade asset in the NBA, and that’s a good place to be.

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