Knicks star Jalen Brunson touches on possibly playing with Donovan Mitchell amid rumors about Cavs future

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David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The idea of Donovan Mitchell leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers for the New York Knicks seems to never go away, and it has traveled overseas to find Knicks guard Jalen Brunson having to comment on the possibility.

“It’s impossible not to see things — rumors and all the stuff that comes up on Twitter and all that stuff every single day is always on TV,” Brunson said. “There’s always possibilities when you hear about that stuff. Donovan is a good friend of mine for a while. We were in the same high school class, our relationship goes back a long way. I think right now, I’m more than happy with my guys, and I love my teammates.”

Brunson has other more pressing matters on his mind as he prepares with Team USA for the 2023 FIBA World Cup. He was speaking in Spain, where the Americans will play Slovenia in a pre-tournament exhibition game on Saturday.

The 26-year-old just completed his first season with the Knicks, while Mitchell finished his first season with the Cavs. Brunson’s lower-seeded Knicks eliminated Mitchell’s Cavs in the first round of the playoffs in the matchup of friends.

After that series loss, Mitchell commented on the environment at Madison Square Garden, saying it was “jumping.” That was followed by an offseason report that the Knicks have not given up on the idea of acquiring the New York native after failing to land him when the Utah Jazz traded him to Cleveland prior to last season.

The rumors that Mitchell’s relationship with the Cavs will be a short one caused head coach J.B. Bickerstaff to recently say that he sees a guy who is “all in” on the future in Cleveland. The 26-year-old is under contract with the Cavs for at least the next two seasons, with a player option on his deal for the 2025-26 campaign. He could decline that to become a free agent following the 2024-25 season.

The organization reportedly is “rolling out the red carpet” for Mitchell to avoid the possibility of trading him before his contract is up.

The Cavaliers’ future looks bright coming off their first playoff appearance since 2018 with young core players Darius Garland, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen in addition to Mitchell. Former Cavs player Richard Jefferson recently said it’s up to the franchise player to turn Mobley into an All-Star and make all of his teammates better.

Mitchell reportedly declined an invitation to play for Team USA in the World Cup, which would have made him teammates with Brunson this summer. Until Mitchell makes a longer-term commitment to Cleveland or chooses not to, the talk of him and Brunson someday winding up as NBA teammates in New York will invariably continue.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. One of his favorite sports memories is the Cavaliers-Nets playoff series from 1993.