Tony Jones, The Athletic’s beat writer for the Jazz, created a little stir among Nets fans Thursday when he wrote this about Utah’s Donovan Mitchell:
Donovan Mitchell hasn’t asked for a trade from the Jazz, according to sources. But, if he were to be traded, sources say, his preferred destination would be one of three places: the Knicks, the Brooklyn Nets, or the Miami Heat. Mitchell can’t be traded to the Nets as long as Ben Simmons is on the roster, which makes that destination unlikely, and now even more unlikely with Kevin Durant staying put. The Heat simply don’t have the assets that the Jazz are looking for, which makes that destination unlikely. The Knicks have the assets that the Jazz seek, which has made them a natural potential trade partner.
The Nets, according to various sources, are very high on Simmons, so this falls into the category of interesting speculation. Teams can’t trade for a player on a designated rookie extension if they already have one on the roster. Both Mitchell and Simmons are on rookie extensions.
Of course, Mitchell would want to play for the Nets or Knicks. He’s a native of Elmsford, N.Y. in Westchester County. His father is the Mets’ senior director of player relations and has worked for the Amazin’s for nearly a quarter century. But putting aside the degree of difficulty in getting him to Brooklyn and his hometown loyalty, Mitchell’s choice of the Nets could reinvigorate the sense that the Nets are still, despite all the disappointment and controversy, a top destination for top players. As our Alec Sturm tweeted...
They obviously don’t have the methods to acquire him anymore, but Donovan Mitchell listing the Nets as a preferred trade destination is still a pretty big deal. https://t.co/5Clcie69sY— Alec Sturm (@Alec_Sturm) August 25, 2022
It’s also a bit of a relief. Brian Lewis has reported that some free agents had passed on the Nets following Kevin Durant’s trade request and Kyrie Irving’s opt-in, leading to uncertain times in the free agent market. Indeed, they haven’t used their $6.5 million taxpayers mid-level exception in free agency. It’s still available, but there aren’t any free agents likely to be worth that big of a contract. (The NBA’s collective bargaining agreement permits teams to break up the TMLE into pieces.)
As we’ve noted, the Nets still have six openings on their 20-man training camp roster, tied with Charlotte for the most in the league.