Donovan Mitchell ‘would treasure being a Knick’

Donovan Mitchell 'would treasure being a Knick'

Iona men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino said he hopes Donovan Mitchell winds up with the Knicks. Apparently, so does Mitchell, who played for Pitino at Louisville from 2015 to 2017.

Pitino cited the fact Mitchell’s family still lives in the tristate area: his mother works for Greenwich (Conn.) Country Day School and his father works in the Mets’ front office.

Donovan Mitchell at Rucker Park.
James Keivom

“Donovan loves the Knicks,” Pitino said. “Donovan loves being around his mom, sister and dad. Donovan would treasure being a Knick. That being said, things have to work out. I’m hoping, keeping my fingers crossed that he becomes a Knick. It would be very special for me as a coach seeing him in a Knick uniform as an ex-Knick coach.”

Pitino, who coached the Knicks in the late 1980s and has been at Iona since 2020, said he was rooting for former team president Phil Jackson to draft Mitchell, a Westchester County native, with the eighth pick of the 2017 draft. Instead, the Zen Master went with Frank Ntilikina, whose NBA career has been a bust, and the Jazz selected Mitchell with the 13th-overall pick.

Rick Pitino coaching Donovan Mitchell at Louisville.

Knicks president Leon Rose has a chance to right the wrong by trading for Mitchell, but he is in a stalemate with Utah team president Danny Ainge over the number of unprotected draft picks to include in a deal. Ainge is telling confidants two other teams have made offers he likes.

That would be a shame, Pitino said, because the 25-year-old Mitchell could be the toast of Broadway and would embrace the harsh New York spotlight.

“We all know Donovan is very talented on offense, but Donovan is as talented as polished a human being as any person I’ve ever met,” Pitino said on a conference call touting Iona’s newly released non-conference schedule. “A very well-educated young man who knows everything right to say. But he’s highly, highly competitive. He’ll do anything to win a basketball game. But when the game is over and the mikes are all in his face, you have to deal with the media in a positive way. Donovan will be outstanding in that, just terrific at that.”

A trade for Mitchell would align him with new point guard Jalen Brunson in a backcourt potentially filled with fireworks, however undersized.

“Brunson and Donovan Mitchell, that’s a helluva backcourt,” Pitino said. “Both are winners. They both are terrific people. I hope it happens certainly. It would be great for the Knicks and everybody who follows the Knicks.”

The Post reported some in the organization have concern a starting lineup including Mitchell, Brunson, RJ Barrett and Julius Randle would contain too many ball-dominant players — and all but Mitchell are left-handers.

“That’s for Thibs to figure out, not me,” Pitino said of Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau. “Donovan would be a great addition. You work things out. How does [Kevin] Durant, Kyrie [Irving] play together? There’s a lot of multiple offensive players. Thibs will work it out. He’s been around a long time [and is] an outstanding coach.

“[Mitchell is] a great offensive basketball player. He’s always working to get better. His work ethic is phenomenal. He’s got a Kobe Bryant-type work ethic. That’s the highest compliment I can pay.”

Pitino possessed Knicks season tickets for a long time, but no longer is a subscriber.

“I will call World Wide West [Knicks executive William Wesley] as soon as [Mitchell is] named to get me great tickets,” Pitino said.


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