Why Wizards should help facilitate a Knicks, Donovan Mitchell trade

Donovan Mitchell, Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
Donovan Mitchell, Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) /

Donovan Mitchell has seen his name in trade rumors since the Utah Jazz decided to flip his former teammate, Rudy Gobert, to the Minnesota Timberwolves earlier this offseason. While the New York Knicks have long been the leading candidate to acquire him, there have been persistent rumors that the Washington Wizards are among the teams trying to outbid the Knicks for his services.

Mitchell isn’t your typical star player involved in NBA trade rumors. He is still ascending at just 25 years old and is coming off a season in which he averaged 25.9 points, 5.3 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game. Over the course of the past few seasons, he has been the top offensive option on a team that has been among the best in the NBA’s Western Conference.

The Wizards getting Mitchell would be huge for the franchise as it would give them a nearly impossible-to-defend backcourt combination in Mitchell and star guard Bradley Beal. The fit is not the most natural, but players of their caliber can make it work and would give opponents nightmares.

Still, The Wizards would be best suited to helping facilitate a Knicks deal for Mitchell. There are a few reasons why.

What will the Wizards crunchtime lineup look like?. light. Related Story

Why the Wizards should help facilitate a Knicks-Donovan Mitchell trade

First and foremost, the Wizards must be realistic in how likely they are to acquire Mitchell if he is moved before the NBA season. It’s an uphill battle for Washington even if they are willing to unload all their movable picks and most of their young talent.

That’s a big if. It is unlikely they’d be willing to gut the assets they do have for a single player, especially if they fear he won’t want to be in Washington long term.

So, if they take themselves out of the hunt, which the Jazz may do for them when they no longer need to use them for leverage, the Wizards must consider the next best option. That option is to get involved in a multi-team deal and increase their own talent or assets in the process.

How could Washington do that? There are a few routes. Once they except they are not going to be getting Mitchell themselves, they could stay involved in discussions with a few different goals in mind.

The top priority could be getting the rights back to their 2023 first-round draft pick. The Knicks currently hold the pick, though it is lottery protected for the upcoming NBA Draft. The Wizards could do a few things regarding that pick.

If they’re willing to part with an asset, they could re-acquire the draft pick and be able to use it down the road or hold onto it without worrying about protections. Or, they could lift some of the protections if it allows them to get a player that will make them better right now.

Due to the protections on this pick, the Wizards have limited trade assets of their own. Helping make a deal work with the two teams could allow Washington to increase their own flexibility when it comes to assets moving forward.

If they ship out a player they don’t anticipate playing a major role in their rotation, it’s worth increasing their upcoming flexibility. If the pick is off the board, the Wizards could target a veteran to make them better right now in the deal. Someone to swap out with a young player that doesn’t fit in the team’s long-term plans. Possibly  Daniel Gafford or even a Rui Hachimura if the Wizards don’t anticipate retaining him.

Regardless of what the details are looking like, there will be value to be had by default. At the very least, the Wizards should remain involved in the discussions even when it no longer means they are pursuing Mitchell for themselves.

Next. Dates to know ahead of 2023 season. dark