RJ Barrett (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

The New York Knicks have some soul-searching to do now that the Donovan Mitchell saga is over, and the three-time All-Star has found a new home in Cleveland. The Knicks were widely considered the favorites to land Mitchell, only to see the Cavaliers surpass them on horseback. It’s a bad look for the Knicks, who had more than enough assets to get a deal done but simply couldn’t close.

Now, yet again, they find themselves as the butt of jokes and the source of frustration for Knick fans. Had they landed Mitchell, they could have paired him with a potential rising star in RJ Barrett, as well as Julius Randle and newly signed starting guard Jalen Brunson.

It would’ve made the Knicks exciting, and dare Knicks fans dream, good. Instead, they’ll have to make do with a team that, while perhaps better than last year’s squad that missed the play-in tournament, doesn’t scare anyone.

Were the New York Knicks outbid, or did they underestimate the competition?

Leading up to the surprising trade, there were rumors that the Jazz had serious offers from other teams. Many, myself included, presumed that it was the Jazz trying to get the Knicks to up their offer. Turns out, that wasn’t the case.

The Cavs came with a strong offer that included Collin Sexton, 2022 14th overall pick Ochai Agbaji, Lauri Markkanen, and three far-out unprotected first-round picks. Ironically, that was similar to what the Knicks had previously offered the Jazz.

At the start of trade talks in July, New York offered Utah a Donovan Mitchell package including RJ Barrett, Obi Toppin, Mitchell Robinson and three unprotected first-round picks, sources tell ESPN. Jazz turned down that offer and Robinson signed a $60M extension to stay w/ NY.

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 2, 2022

The Knicks could have countered, but they had already offered five first-round picks (subscription required) only for the Jazz to turn them down, and they have since extended Barrett. Even then, the two sides were still negotiating in the lead-up to the trade before talks broke down.

Cleveland took advantage by making a great offer at just the right time, resulting in the Knicks losing out on Mitchell. Too bad. Now what?

What’s the New York Knicks next move?

Had this happened a month ago, they might have been able to pivot to Kevin Durant after missing out on Mitchell. Then again, that’s doubtful given the Nets didn’t ultimately trade him and they probably wouldn’t have dealt him to an in-state rival. With no other star on the market, the Knicks will have to continue with business as usual and hope that another star will eventually become available.

Nobody knows how long that might be, but it could be sooner than most realize. In fact, stars are now becoming available more regularly, and when they do, it seems to come out of nowhere. Take Dejounte Murray, for example. No one expected him to be on the market three months ago, but now he’s a member of the Atlanta Hawks.

Who knows? Maybe Pascal Siakam or Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will become available at some point next season or next summer and the Knicks can pounce. In the meantime, they should operate as if that isn’t going to happen.

Barrett could very well emerge as a star next season and having one star often attracts another. Of course, pairing him with Mitchell could’ve given the team two stars in their early to mid-twenties.

That’s said, they can remain in the mix for a star by making the playoffs or the play-in tournament next season. That could prove difficult but remaining competitive will make them a more attractive destination for stars, which they actually haven’t been despite playing in New York. Overall, the Knicks can move forward after striking out on an All-Star in his prime, but it will take time and a game plan.