Knicks assistant coach Johnnie Bryant never became the magnet for Jazz superstar Donovan Mitchell, as the franchise had hoped. The 35-year-old Bryant was known as a solid player-development coach in
Knicks assistant coach Johnnie Bryant never became the magnet for Jazz superstar Donovan Mitchell, as the franchise had hoped.
The 35-year-old Bryant was known as a solid player-development coach in his six years in Utah. But a chief reason why he was wooed by the Knicks away from Utah to serve on Tom Thibodeau’s staff was to be a lure for Mitchell, sources said.
Bryant and Mitchell had a close personal relationship, but they won’t be reuniting. Mitchell reportedly agreed to a five-year, $195 million rookie max extension with the Jazz on Sunday.
Mitchell was to be a free agent in 2021 and feuded with Rudy Gobert over their COVID-19 infections in March that shut down the league. A report swirled the relationship was forever damaged.
Mitchell, whose father works for the Mets, is a Westchester product, and there has long been a theory he may want to play for his hometown team. When Leon Rose became Knicks president, those rumors flourished even more because Mitchell was his client at Creative Artists Agency.
Though Thibodeau didn’t know him, Bryant was signed to a five-year contract that averaged close to $1.5 million per year. There was also hope internally former Jazz forward Gordon Hayward would feel more comfortable in New York with Bryant on board. Hayward signed with Charlotte on Saturday.
Mitchell’s bond with Utah grew during the Orlando restart when he emerged in the first round of the playoffs. He averaged 36.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.9 assists while shooting 51.6 percent from 3.
The Knicks, at No. 8, passed on Mitchell in the 2017 draft and he fell to 13th. Knicks president Phil Jackson was a fan, but thought Frank Ntilikina was a better fit to run the triangle offense. Jackson was fired days later and the Knicks scrapped the triangle.
You cannot make it up.
The Knicks could still have one roster spot if they waive both Omari Spellman and Jacob Evans in the Minnesota deal for Ed Davis that netted another second-rounder. If they had the extra spot on their 15-man roster, they could use it for Taj Gibson.
The Knicks are also in position to accept a contract from a team looking to create cap space.