The New York Knicks spent years building towards this offseason. They preserved draft capital and young talent. They built a roster base that included a new $100 million point guard in Jalen Brunson. The idea was to position themselves to trade for a disgruntled star interested in relocating to New York when one became available. Donovan Mitchell looked like that star, but the Knicks missed out. Mitchell is a Cleveland Cavalier, and now the Knicks will need to go back to the drawing board.
The new plan is, apparently, the old plan. According to the New York Post, the Knicks will continue to be on the lookout for the next disgruntled star. One name that has been mentioned? Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
The major complication here is that Gilgeous-Alexander signed a five-year contract extension last offseason without any options. He is locked in through the 2026-27 season, whereas Mitchell can become a free agent two seasons earlier in 2025. That gives Oklahoma City more time to convince Gilgeous-Alexander that the Thunder are the team for him.
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Considering their mountain of draft picks and young players, they should be in a relatively strong position to do that. Had No. 2 overall pick Chet Holmgren not gotten injured, the Thunder may have competed for a play-in berth this season. They still theoretically could, and it won't be long now before all of the young players they've drafted start to inch towards their primes. At that point, the Thunder will have the leftover draft capital to add whatever major pieces they need.
The premise that Gilgeous-Alexander could seek a trade seems to be based on the two-year tank the Thunder have been engaged in, but that period appears to be nearing its end. Whether its this season or next, Oklahoma City's future looks significantly brighter's than Utah did prior to this offseason. Gilgeous-Alexander could credibly believe he can win with the Thunder.
But this is the modern NBA. Players dislodge themselves from teams for any number of reasons. Whether its Gilgeous-Alexander or someone else, Mitchell is unlikely to be the last star to try to get traded. The Knicks will have more opportunities to add talent, but if they're as reluctant to pay for it as they were with Mitchell, they'll likely get the same result.