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New York Knicks reportedly close on Donovan Mitchell trade, amount of unprotected picks final hold up

Jason Burgos
new york knicks, donovan mitchell
Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks and Utah Jazz have reportedly hit one final stalemate in trade talks regarding All-Star Donovan Mitchell. The latest issue? The amount of unprotected first-round draft picks that would be included in a prospective deal.

In Knicks land, the Mitchell situation has become the primary focus of their offseason. After signing coveted restricted free agent point guard Jalen Brunson away from the Dallas Mavericks, the organization’s pursuit of the player they have wanted for years has become the narrative at the forefront of most fans’ minds.

However, while suggestions from around the league have claimed the Mitchell trade chase is really a one-horse race, there have consistently been various rumors about why a deal has not been consummated yet. Early rumors around a possible trade being held up centered on if rising star RJ Barrett would be included in a swap. More recent speculation was centered on if 2021 first-round pick Quentin Grimes would be a part of the Jazz’s return.

Related: Lakers reportedly discussed 3-team trade with Knicks involving Russell Westbrook

Beyond the players that could be included in a deal, the amount of picks in the Knicks’ package for Mitchell has also been a source of a divide. After Utah netted four first-round picks in their deal for All-Star center Rudy Gobert this summer, the assumption has long been that New York might have to cough up close to twice as many picks to get Mitchell.

New York Knicks recently offered Jazz Obi Toppin, Evan Fournier, cash, and 2 unprotected draft picks

new york knicks, donovan mitchell
Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Well, it seems that draft picks have again become an issue between Utah and New York. However, this time it is about how many of those selections will be unprotected. On Monday, New York Post NBA insider Marc Berman revealed the sides are close on a deal, but Utah president Danny Ainge wants more unprotected first-round picks than the Knicks have been willing to part with.

“According to sources, Jazz president Danny Ainge and Knicks president Leon Rose are at a Donovan Mitchell stalemate over really one thing — the amount of ‘unprotected’ first-round picks in the package. According to a recent proposal, courtesy of Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Knicks offered Obi Toppin, Evan Fournier, cash, two unprotected first-round picks, and three protected for a total of five.

“The Jazz declined. A source told The Post Ainge is after four unprotected first-round picks — not just two. That’s no small gap. In fact, Ainge doesn’t have many strong preferences on the players coming back, though shooting guard Quentin Grimes certainly is high on his list.”

Latest on Knicks and Jazz trade talks

For the uninitiated, a protected pick just means there are conditions on the selection from one of the teams in the trade that included it. For example, if the pick is in the top 10 it will remain with the organization that offered it up in a deal. Nevertheless, as Berman says it does not seem like there is a very wide gap between the two sides.

The Knicks have eight first-round picks in the next four NBA drafts.