Stein’s Latest: Mitchell, Knicks, Sixers, Lakers, Beverley

New York’s impending pursuit of Jalen Brunson became obvious once a Knicks contingent led by Julius Randle, William Wesley and Allan Houston was spotted at Game 1 of the first-round series between the Mavericks and Jazz. However, as Marc Stein writes in his lastest article for Substack, it’s clear now that New York had designs on pursuing Donovan Mitchell as well as Brunson.

Recent reports from Tony Jones of The Athletic and Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune indicate that the Jazz are looking for six first-round picks and young players in exchange for Mitchell, but the Knicks balked at that asking price. According to Stein, even if the Knicks have more draft picks to offer at the moment, they should be “careful not to underestimate” the Heat and Nets as potential Mitchell suitors.

Under president Leon Rose, the Knicks have unsuccessfully pursued other star players, which is why it’s so important to the incumbent regime to land a player of Mitchell’s stature, Stein says.

Here’s more from Stein:

  • Mitchell has multiple ties to the Knicks, Stein adds. Mitchell is “very close” with Knicks assistant Johnnie Bryant, who was an assistant with the Jazz for several seasons and recently had multiple interviews for Utah’s head coaching job. He’s also friends with Brunson due to their shared connection with Eric Paschall, who is Mitchell’s closest friend in the NBA and was college teammates with Brunson at Villanova, per Stein.
  • Like the Knicks’ pursuit of Brunson, the Sixers are likely to face a tampering investigation due to the signing of P.J. Tucker, according to Stein, who reported four days before free agency opened that several rival teams were convinced that Tucker would land with Philadelphia. Stein and others had linked Tucker to the Sixers even before the draft, a week before free agency opened, and Stein notes that Tucker’s agent informed Shams Charania of The Athletic that he was heading to Philly a minute after free agency opened.
  • It has been rumored that the Lakers might be interested in Jazz guard Patrick Beverley, but a source tells Stein that L.A. has no plans to deal Talen Horton-Tucker for the veteran. The Lakers have been prioritizing speed and youth in the offseason, so swapping a 21-year-old for a 34-year-old would detract from that, Stein notes. Horton-Tucker had been floated as a possibility because the Lakers don’t have any other mid-size contracts for salary-matching purposes — he’ll make $10.26MM in 2022/23, while Beverley will earn $13MM.
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