The Donovan Mitchell trade sweepstakes are now the most pressing matter left to be resolved during the 2022 NBA offseason. It sounds like the Utah Jazz are intent on getting rid of Mitchell before training camp starts, and the New York Knicks have emerged as Mitchell's top suitor. Despite that, no deal has materialized yet, leaving everyone to wonder what the holdup is.
Stein believes that the Lakers may have to get involved in the Mitchell trade
The Jazz and Knicks appear to be playing a game of chicken over Mitchell here, with neither side wanting to give in. New York has the resources to get Mitchell but doesn't want to give up too much, while Utah wants to get rid of Mitchell but wants a fair price in return. It may require the help of a third team, which is where the Los Angeles Lakers would enter the fold.
Los Angeles has always been rumored to be a potential third team in a deal between the Jazz and Knicks for Mitchell, and Marc Stein has confirmed that could end up being the case. Stein believes that as the need for a third team increases, the Lakers are becoming an increasingly viable partner as a third team for the Jazz and Knicks to work with.
"If the Knicks manage to win the trade race for Utah's Donovan Mitchell, or even if another team unexpectedly beats them to Mitchell, league sources say there's a decent chance that the Lakers will be involved in the deal. The two future first-round picks that the Lakers possess in 2027 and 2029 are the kind of top-shelf draft picks that Jazz CEO Danny Ainge is believed to covet. Russell Westbrook's $47 million expiring contract and those picks could be the Lakers' entree to a potential three-team swap...depending on the players that would land in Los Angeles." - Marc Stein
Westbrook could be the key to a Mitchell trade
Stein notes that Russell Westbrook could end up being the key to a trade here, which wouldn't be surprising. The Lakers have a clear desire to get Westbrook off their roster heading into the upcoming season, and the Jazz would make sense as a team willing to take on his massive contract if they got draft compensation. The Lakers' two tradeable draft picks are exactly what the Jazz would be looking for.
To add fuel to the fire, it's being reported that the Lakers aren't even debating whether or not they are going to trade Westbrook. They will do it; it's just a matter of how much they have to give up and how much they can get in return for Westbrook that is keeping him in L.A. This could certainly speed up a trade, especially if the Jazz are willing to take Westbrook as part of the deal.
A trade involving the Jazz, Knicks, and Lakers makes sense for all parties involved. It's just a matter of finding a way to make it work for everyone involved. Where there's a will, there's a way, and considering all three of these teams appear to be interested in a trade here, it would make sense to expect a deal to get done before the start of the upcoming season.