If you are the Celtics, you do not want Mitchell to end up with the Miami Heat are any other Eastern Conference favorite. Therefore, making sure old pal Danny Ainge sends Michell to the New York Knicks, who are rumored as the frontrunner, Brad Stevens could get involved in the trade negotiations as a third team.
We did float around a trade idea that would send Jaylen Brown to the Jazz for Mitchell, but that’s only if JB made it clear he wanted out of Boston. Unless that storyline changes, the Celtics are pretty set with the team they have, which Brian Robb outlines in his Masslive.com column:
"“The Celtics are not expected to have interest in dealing for Mitchell per league sources given the high price tag and their recent offseason moves. However, a number of Eastern Conference rivals are expected to make plays for Mitchell. Let’s take a closer look at some of the possibilities in play on that front and what they could mean for the Celtics.”"
Those teams include the Heat and the Knicks. Although New York would be much better with a Mitchell and Jalen Brunson backcourt, they wouldn’t be as much as a threat as the Heat who took the Boston Celtics to the brink in the Eastern Conference Finals. Adding a player like Mitchell would make them even more dangerous as scoring was the main reason the Heat were extinguished.
Boston Celtics can insert themselves as a third team in the blockbuster deal
So, how can Stevens and the Celtics influence where Mitchell ends up?
Jumping in as a three-way trade partner would sweeten any deal Ainge may be looking for from the Knicks, who obviously have the draft capitol overhaul the former Celtics president of basketball operations is looking for. He is also looking for young players and players he feels can come in and change the culture in Utah.
After trading Rudy Gobert for a treasure trunk of draft picks, Ainge has set the tone for what appears to be a fire sale in the great Salt Lake City area. While more draft picks is the focal point of a Mitchell deal, a couple of players on the Celtics roster who Ainge drafted could be thrown in a deal that would help all three teams.
In a three-way deal, Ainge would receive 4 first-round picks, Marcus Smart or Derrick White, Quentin Grimes and Immanuel Quickly. Of course, the Knicks get Donovan Mitchell, Jarred Vanderbilt and Payton Prichard while the Celtics would get Obi Toppin and Jordan Clarkson in the deal.
We can leave all the salary calculations and salary cap details up to Stevens, Ainge and New York Knicks General Manger Scott Perry, but the deal gives the Celtics another versatile big in Toppin and another scorer off the bench in Clarkson.
Obviously, with three teams involved, there are a number of other possibilities involving numerous players, but there is a way the Celtics can be a factor in a potential deal without targeting Donovan Mitchell himself.