ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith desperately wants the New York Knicks to trade for Cleveland Cavaliers star guard Donovan Mitchell so at least Julius Randle will know that he can’t be the team’s No. 1 option.
“And I don’t wanna hear about a Donovan Mitchell-Jalen Brunson backcourt being too small,” Smith said. “Donovan Mitchell is a No. 1 option. You get him if for no other reason to make sure that Julius Randle can’t even think about being a No. 1 option. I like Julius Randle when he plays within himself. I don’t like him when he’s jacking up shots.”
The Knicks recently made a move for former Toronto Raptors forward O.G. Anunoby. In exchange for the defensive-minded player, New York dealt Immanuel Quickley, RJ Barrett and a second-round pick to the Raptors.
Anunoby showed out in his debut against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Jan. 1. In 35 minutes of playing time for the Knicks, he dropped 17 points, six rebounds, one assist and two steals while shooting 7-of-12 from the field and 3-of-6 from behind the 3-point arc.
Thanks partly to Anunoby’s two-way contributions, the Knicks beat the Timberwolves by six points to improve to 18-15 on the season and 9-4 at home.
As for Mitchell and the Cavaliers, they own the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference and an identical record to New York at 18-15. But unlike the Knicks, the Cavaliers are on a two-game losing streak, with their most recent loss coming against the Raptors on Jan. 1.
Mitchell ended up with the second-most points on the Cavaliers with 26 and also shot 4-of-9 from behind the 3-point line and 6-of-6 from the free-throw line. Additionally, he chipped in seven rebounds, seven assists and four steals in 38 minutes of action.
On the season, Mitchell is averaging 27.9 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game while shooting 45.7 percent from the floor and 34.7 percent from behind the 3-point line.
Caris LeVert — who is averaging 16.0 points per game during the 2023-24 regular season — ended up leading the Cavaliers in scoring off the bench. He dropped 31 points on 12-of-20 shooting from the field.
The Knicks will try to remain undefeated with Anunoby when they take on the Chicago Bulls at home on Wednesday.
The Bulls own the 10th-best record in the Eastern Conference and are four games back of the Knicks in the standings. They are fresh off a 13-point loss against the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday.