Basketball

Knicks, Lakers, Jazz nearly pulled trigger on Westbrook, Mitchell trade

The Knicks, Lakers and Jazz negotiated a three-team trade that would have sent Donovan Mitchell to the Knicks and Russell Westbrook to the Jazz. Of course, Westbrook’s contract would have been bought out. And the Jazz would have received multiple first-round draft picks.

According to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, this NBA blockbuster trade almost occurred. “The proposed three-team trade scenario included Westbrook going to Utah and getting bought out,” explains Scotto.

“Utah would send Donovan Mitchell to the Knicks, a combination of two players, including Patrick Beverley and Jordan Clarkson, Bojan Bogdanovic or Malic Beasley to the Lakers, and the Jazz receive significant draft pick compensation from the Knicks and Lakers.”

“The Knicks also would’ve had to part with veteran salary filler(s), such as Derrick Rose to help make the salaries work. The Lakers also had interest in trading for Knicks forward Cam Reddish, who could also become part of a trade.”

Would the Jazz have won the trade?

A news story like this will usually lead to more questions than answers. How many first-round draft picks did Jazz executive Danny Ainge want? In the Rudy Gobert trade, the Timberwolves gave the Jazz five first-round draft picks. For a Mitchell-Westbrook trade, the same number of picks could have been the asking price.

Not to mention, which players would the Lakers receive? Per NBC Sports, one report suggested Cam Reddish, Derrick Rose and Jordan Clarkson. If true, one cannot help but wonder if such a trade would have actually hurt the Lakers.

Westbrook had a down year last season, having averaged 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds, 7.1 assists and 1 steal per game. Though, the two-time scoring champ still averaged 27.2 points per game with the Rockets in the 2019-20 season.

The Knicks would have improved with Donovan Mitchell

This offseason, the Knicks signed Jalen Brunson to a four-year, $104 million contract. The team also traded Kemba Walker to the Pistons. Having Mitchell, Brunson and Julius Randle together would have given the Knicks an extra push offensively.

Last season, Mitchell averaged 25.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game. One thing is for certain, coach Tom Thibodeau and the Knicks would have had more than enough firepower to return to the playoffs.

In the 2021-22 season, the team finished 37-45 (.451) and ranked 11th in the Eastern Conference.

While the Knicks would have had Mitchell, the Jazz would remain almost just as dominant with Westbrook. Without Gobert, it’s tough to say for sure. But maybe the triple-double king is better off in Los Angeles.

Under new Lakers coach Davin Ham, the 2021-22 season will show the basketball world whether or not the nine-time All-Star can function better with his teammates. Westbrook turns 34 in November.

Trading for Damian Lillard is one thing. However, if G.M. Rob Pelinka trades Westbrook, it better be for another superstar player. Otherwise, what’s the point? LeBron James turns 38 this December. And Anthony Davis could sustain additional injuries next season as well. The Lakers are in a win-now mode.

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