Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell grew up in Westchester County, rooting for the Knicks. Like most Knicks fans, Mitchell was surprised to see Spike Lee on First Take Tuesday morning talking about being 'harrased' by owner James Dolan.
"I don't know exactly what happened. But I just reacted to what I saw. And from what I saw, that's the way I reacted the way I did," Mitchell said Wednesday after leading the Jazz to a win over the Knicks.
Despite the franchise's off-court issues, Mitchell is confident that new Knicks president Leon Rose will build a winner in New York.
"You've got to think with Leon coming in, who I know personally, I think things are going to trend upward. I love Leon to death," said Mitchell, who is represented by CAA agent Ty Sullivan. Rose is formerly the co-head of CAA's basketball division. So he and Mitchell - who made sure to point out that he's an 'ex-Knicks fan' know each other well.
"He's a great dude, great person," Mitchell said of Rose, who took over as Knicks president on Monday. "And (he's) a really good businessman. So for him, I think things are going in the right direction."
Rose takes over a Knicks team that hasn't made the playoffs since 2013 and has been besieged by negative off-court issues in recent years.
On the court, the Knicks are on pace for yet another 50-loss season.
But they have seven first-round picks over the next four seasons and plenty of cap space. Those are valuable tools to rebuild the roster.
Mitchell believes Rose will be successful in New York, in part, because of his relationships with players around the league.
"I just think from the time that I've known him, obviously we're from the same agency, that he's just a guy who is charismatic, cares about - not to say that other (team presidents) didn't care, but he's a guy that cares, understands the game, understands relationships," Mitchell said. "He has a lot of relationships throughout this league. Guys like Devin Booker, (Karl-Anthony) Towns. So many people around this league. He's been around the game for a while so knows how to do things. It's going to be interesting to see what he does."
Mitchell also answered a few questions about Lee after Utah's win over the Knicks. He recalled coming to the Garden with his family as a kid, sitting in the upper level of the arena and seeing Lee in his courtside seats. Years later, Mitchell interacted with Lee at the Rising Stars game.
"I don't know exactly what happened but from what I heard I think that's pretty crazy," Mitchell said of Lee's incident this week with the Knicks.
Mitchell high on Ntilikina
Mitchell and Frank Ntilikina trained together before the 2017 NBA Draft and have a close relationship since then. Mitchell had high praise for his friend after Utah's win over the Knicks.
"He's one of the toughest defenders I've had to face, especially that's younger than me. He's solid," Mitchell said. "I always tell him to keep being more aggressive. But he plays within the system, plays the right way and I always respect him for that. He's a guy that I really respect in this league because he does it the right way, comes in real quiet but really efficient. And he's able to lock in.
"You saw the last play he had against Houston the other day (when Ntilikina defended Russell Westbrook's shot on the last possession of the Knicks' win). That's who he is, that's what he brings…. I think it's great that the Knicks continue to give him multiple shots because he deserves it."