The Quentin Grimes dilemma: Knicks’ promising wing makes buying and selling for Donovan Mitchell tough

As a normal rule, NBA groups are hesitant to commerce younger, homegrown expertise. That is notably true if mentioned expertise was undervalued by the remainder of the league. When executives discover gems late within the first spherical, anyplace within the second or on the scrap heap, they get hooked up. These gamers’ successes replicate effectively on their groups’ scouting and growth packages. Typically they’re diligent employees and beloved teammates, the type of guys that convey good vibes to the observe facility and turn out to be fan favorites. 

Nearly each staff is obsessive about drafting and creating effectively, although, partly as a result of this lets you commerce for stars. Usually, when a participant like Donovan Mitchell is on the commerce market, he won’t be swapped for an additional multi-time All-Star at an analogous stage of his profession. He’ll be swapped for draft picks and youthful, cheaper gamers who might doubtlessly flip into All-Stars sooner or later.

Enter 22-year-old Quentin Grimes. He is a 6-foot-4 wing with a 6-8 wingspan, and the New York Knicks chosen him No. 25 within the 2021 draft. He averaged six factors, two boards and one help in 17 minutes as a rookie, with 40-38-68 capturing splits. These numbers don’t counsel future stardom, nor do they counsel that he must be off-limits in commerce talks. And but the Knicks have reportedly taken a agency stance when negotiating with the Utah Jazz: Grimes is off limits.  

In an interview with ESPN 700, The Athletic’s Tony Jones mentioned that New York is prepared to half with 24-year-old large Obi Toppin in a Mitchell deal, however Utah needs Grimes: 

“The one participant that [the Knicks] try to not put within the deal is Quentin Grimes. They do not need Quentin Grimes within the deal below any circumstance. And the No. 1 participant that the Jazz need within the deal is Quentin Grimes. And I get the sense that the Jazz are actually hesitant to do a deal that does not have Quentin Grimes in it. I can let you know that the Knicks are amenable to giving the Jazz Obi Toppin, who’s a extremely younger and high-energy, high-ceiling energy ahead, however Quentin Grimes is a serious sticking level at this level.”

In case your tackle this data is an incredulous, “Certain, this man with a 14.9 % utilization charge is why the Knicks have not traded for Mitchell, no matter you say,” then you definitely would possibly need to punctuate it with a Rodrigue Beaubois reference. In February 2010, main as much as the commerce deadline, Dallas Mavericks proprietor Mark Cuban mentioned {that a} rookie Beaubois — the No. 25 decide, similar to Grimes — was “just about untouchable.” 

“There’s possibly one or two guys within the league that I might commerce him for,” Cuban mentioned. “That is it.”

Beaubois had an encouraging rookie 12 months, together with a 40-point sport in March, however his progress stalled when he broke his foot the next summer season. He wanted one other surgical procedure on the identical foot after his second season, and, since breaking his hand in 2013, his fourth and ultimate season with the Mavericks, Beaubois has been taking part in in Europe. I used to be an enormous Beaubois man, however I admit he ought to by no means have been untouchable. 

At All-Star weekend in 2011, the Knicks had a late-night assembly with the Denver Nuggets to barter a Carmelo Anthony commerce. Anthony himself was within the assembly, alongside together with his then-agent, Leon Rose, who’s now New York’s staff president. The Knicks and Nuggets had been speaking for the reason that earlier summer season, however this was totally different: Anthony watched the 2 sides haggling over picks and gamers. Considered one of them was rookie middle Timofey Mozgov, who weeks earlier had scored 23 factors and grabbed 14 rebounds in a win towards a dysfunctional Detroit Pistons staff, prompting followers at Madison Sq. Backyard to chant his title down the stretch. 

Mozgov had appeared in 34 NBA video games and was averaging 4.0 factors, 3.1 rebounds and 0.7 blocks in 13.5 minutes. Apart from that Pistons sport, he had solely scored in double figures as soon as. However the Nuggets contingent, led by then-GM Masai Ujiri, insisted on getting him. “We wish Mozgov, that was the deal,” Anthony recalled on ESPN’s “The Woj Pod,” laughing. “Timofey Mozgov. Mozgov was the dealbreaker within the New York commerce.” The Knicks finally relented, however they managed to hold onto rookie wing Landry Fields. 

With the information that Mozgov would high out as a strong position participant and a mysterious nerve damage would derail Fields’ taking part in profession, these negotiations appear foolish. Years from now, it may appear equally foolish that New York and Utah, two logical companions for this specific blockbuster, have been hung up on a man for whom seemed glorious at summer season league counts as maybe his greatest skilled accomplishment.

Counterpoint: Did you see Grimes at summer season league?

Grimes was primarily a 3-and-D man in his first season with the Knicks, a dependable wing who knocked down open jumpers, made good selections and performed bodily perimeter protection. He constructed on the muse he’d established in his two seasons at Houston, and there have been flashes of the off-the-dribble playmaking that outlined his sport earlier than his tough freshman 12 months at Kansas. Followers wished him to play extra and hoped to see extra of these flashes. On this respect, summer season league was every little thing they’d imagined after which some. 

As a shooter, Grimes was a menace in all places he went, prepared to fireside away from deep, off motion, in transition and off the dribble: 

With the ball in his arms, he was simply as assertive. Grimes attacked closeouts, and he additionally made performs out of pick-and-rolls and dribble-handoffs. He went at bigs who switched onto him, and he spoonfed middle Jericho Sims with a number of slick passes. 

Standing out at summer season league doesn’t assure something. Simply ask Beaubois or Anthony Randolph, one other participant deemed untouchable within the NBA who solely discovered steady floor as soon as he went abroad. The model wherein Grimes performed, although, means that he is the kind of participant each staff needs. At worst, he’ll complement star gamers effectively and take nothing off the desk. At greatest, he is primed for a Desmond Bane-esque leap in his second season. 

That he is undersized and unproven permits the Jazz to demand Grimes and a number of first-round picks in change for a man who has dominated playoff video games. He is proven simply sufficient upside, although, that each they and the Knicks fairly need to see how his sport grows. Generally, groups are vindicated for valuing their younger guys extremely — the Philadelphia 76ers reportedly refused to supply a rookie Tyrese Maxey to the Houston Rockets in James Harden packages in 2021, they usually ended up getting Harden the following 12 months, with Maxey within the midst of a breakout. 

New York has been ready years to accumulate a star like Mitchell, however it is sensible that it is not giving up Grimes with out a struggle. Would it not make sense for Grimes to be the cause that the Knicks do not get Mitchell? Possibly not, however that is not the best way to have a look at it, anyway. In that interview on ESPN 700, Jones reported that Grimes wasn’t the one sticking level. New York’s greatest supply “contained various first-round picks, however most of them have been protected moderately than unprotected,” Jones mentioned. The Jazz worth the Knicks’ personal unprotected picks greater than protected firsts from different groups.

In different phrases, if New York is prepared to commerce all of the picks that Utah needs, then it will probably in all probability preserve Grimes and get Mitchell. Earlier this offseason, Jazz president Danny Ainge “pushed arduous” to get Jaden McDaniels from the Minnesota Timberwolves in a Rudy Gobert deal, per The Athletic’s Jon Krawczynski and Jones. When the Wolves held their floor on McDaniels, Utah requested for extra picks as a substitute. The Knicks aren’t precisely weighing what Grimes is perhaps towards what Mitchell already is; they’re weighing what he is perhaps towards what it could value to maintain him out of the deal.

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