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Moore: How Would a Donovan Mitchell Trade Impact the Betting Market?

Moore: How Would a Donovan Mitchell Trade Impact the Betting Market? article feature image
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Alex Goodlett/Getty Images. Pictured: Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz.

For months, the Utah Jazz have projected that while every other player would be available this summer (with the expectation they would lose early in the playoffs, which they did to the Dallas Mavericks in the first round), Donovan Mitchell would not.

The recurring themes in league circles, and in available reporting, was that new Jazz owner Ryan Smith was heavily invested in building around Mitchell, and that minority owner Dwyane Wade was a big part of establishing and keeping good relations between the team and Mitchell.

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In the wake of the Jazz’s ground-shifting trade of Rudy Gobert to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the next question immediately became if the Jazz would also move Mitchell and kickstart a true rebuild. Teams around the league began trying to determine if Mitchell were available.

As recently as four days ago, the Athletic’s Tony Jones was reporting Utah was “building around Mitchell.”

The Jazz aren’t in limbo. They have three firsts next year, five in the next three years, 8 in the next five, they are in a good spot to move quickly. It’s why they are committed to building around Mitchell. They have a bunch of draft capital and a young star https://t.co/rT5GzmKhw2

— Tony Jones (@Tjonesonthenba) July 9, 2022

Even in the wake of ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reporting that the Jazz have “changed their tune” (get it, Jazz, like the music) about trading Mitchell, Jones reasserts the Jazz are still “fine” keeping Mitchell.

Let’s be clear about this: the Jazz are currently not close to a Donovan Mitchell trade. And much like Gobert, they have no issues whatsoever in keeping him. Either a team is going to meet the bar to make this a convo, or he will be with the Jazz. They are not giving him away

— Tony Jones (@Tjonesonthenba) July 12, 2022

However, Mitchell is unquestionably at least available in talks, and that fundamentally reshapes the situation. Given the picks and young players, the Jazz got for Gobert, a true rebuild makes way more sense.

The Knicks and the Heat are the two teams that have been linked to Mitchell for some time. You’re never going to believe this, but Mitchell is represented by CAA. Former CAA agent Leon Rose runs the Knicks, and CAA ties are all through the Knicks’ organization.

The Heat, on the other hand, are constantly shopping for whatever the next star is to acquire. They’ve been involved in talks for Kevin Durant and are known to have been shopping Tyler Herro and future assets for a star upgrade since early June.

However, there’s one very big reason I’m skeptical a Heat-Jazz deal for Mitchell ever comes to fruition: There is no love lost between Danny Ainge and Pat Riley, to put it mildly.

Pat Riley, in a statement: "Danny Ainge needs to shut the f— up and manage his own team." – http://t.co/e80eDjubnW

— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) March 29, 2013

That’s not a Ballsack Sports quote. That was put on paper and distributed as a statement to reporters. (What I would give for a copy of that.)

Now, look, business is business, and Andy Elisburg and Adam Simon are the ones who actually run the Heat. But getting a deal between Ainge and Riley, given their history and personalities, seems like a tall task.

Miami also doesn’t have a plentiful pick stash and their best return asset is Herro. The assets just aren’t there.

So we return back to the Knicks. The Knicks are known to be star-hunting. League sources said the Knicks made real inquiries into both Kyrie Irving and James Harden (neither conversation went far).

There’s the CAA connection, the Knicks’ penchant for star hunting, and the Knicks providing the kind of market Mitchell wants. That’s a lot of smoke.

A deal likely looks something like Julius Randle (for salary), Immanuel Quickley, Obi Toppin, and significant pick stock (as close to the Gobert trade as possible).

That gives the Jazz a solid rotation player in Randle (his contract will become a big expiring chunk for teams looking to clear cap space in a few seasons), a promising young guard, and an underrated young asset (Toppin), along with the pick stock for a rebuild.

That seems like the best return. The expectation is that the Jazz will want RJ Barrett, however, and all indications suggest that the Knicks won’t include him.

Danny Ainge has proven time and time again he’s willing to walk away from deals where he doesn’t win the trade outright. If Barrett is a sticking point, Mitchell may stay in Utah for now.

PointsBet has posted odds on Mitchell’s next team:

If Donovan Mitchell gets traded, where do you think he'll go?

(via @PointsBetUSA) pic.twitter.com/dYrzfaoEwE

— Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) July 13, 2022

Here’s how I would list the odds for his next team:

Knicks -300: The CAA connection, Mitchell’s comments through the years being wishy-washy on the Jazz’ future, the Knicks’ history of abandoning prudence for headline wins, all of it makes too much sense.

Jazz +100: Danny Ainge is tough to get a deal with, to his credit.

Heat +500: Few assets, bad front office relations.

Nets +1000: Mitchell’s the type of star they would want to try and reconfigure around in the aftermath of their disaster, but they would need a third team that wants Durant to provide the picks. So a third team gets Durant, the Nets get Mitchell, and the Jazz get the draft equity. It would be a short-sighted move from the Nets, who seem to realize they need a hard reset and lack the draft equity to accomplish it.

If the Knicks were to get Mitchell, I would be looking to bet their win total under when it comes on the board. A public team with big splashy moves in Mitchell and Jalen Brunson that’s ripe for a disappointment. The books would have to set the bar for the Knicks higher than last season’s 41.5 based on their talent and the size of the New York betting market, which would leave value on the under.

I would not be looking for Knicks playoff, division, conference, or title futures. Mitchell is a great player who has become underrated in the internet discourse, but also isn’t enough to raise the floor enough for a team with this kind of supporting talent.

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