Exactly 1 week away from the NBA Trade Deadline (March 25th), the New York Knicks find themselves in a seller’s market with a penchant to upgrade. Leon Rose and co. are the holders of ample cap space and a bevy of draft picks. New York currently owns their own 1st rounder along with the Mavericks’ 1st Round Pick and the highly coveted Pistons’ 2nd Round Pick in the upcoming 2021 NBA Draft. Through 2024 (the next 4 drafts), the Knicks own 6 1st round picks (1 of which is a top-10 protected Mavericks’ pick in 2023) and 7 2nd rounders. A stockpile of draft picks like this will offer you a seat at any table during trade discussions.
Rose must display poise and execute with prudence as he can ill afford to swing and miss on a blockbuster deal with the hopes of turning the Knicks into a contender immediately. Rose’s resume, albeit small, has revealed that he will listen to all offers and execute deals only if they come at the right price. I’d expect him to “check-in” on players such as Bradley Beal, Karl-Anthony Towns, Zach LaVine, and John Collins; testing the waters in hopes of acquiring a high caliber player at a reasonable price. These options remain unlikely at the deadline (more probable in the offseason) as it is a seller’s market due to the NBA opening up the Playoffs to 10 teams in each conference (seeds 7-10 play in 1-2 play-in games). Whoever does forfeit the opportunity to squeak into the Playoff Picture and selects to offload players for assets at this deadline, likely will receive inflated offers. Despite the Knicks having an All-Star (Julius Randle) they hypothetically could part with to acquire a king’s ransom worth of draft capital, the Knicks must give-in and elect to be buyers in hopes of upgrading their current roster.
Tom Thibodeau has the Knicks finally turning a corner in building a “winning culture” and continuing to grow this core is essential. With it being a seller’s market, the Knicks may look to deal vets on expiring contracts such as Elfrid Payton, Austin Rivers, Alec Burks, Reggie Bullock, and Nerlens Noel (the Brock Aller strategy). Due to nature of the current market, upgrades won’t come at a bargain. Thus, making those smaller sales more likely for the Knicks (in hopes of acquiring more assets to offer in future deals in which they can make a serious upgrade).
Currently, the Knicks are in dire need of another shooter, would benefit from adding another facilitator, all scorers will be welcomed, and adding a prominent “closer” will be what inevitably puts them over the top. Here I rank in order of likeliness (least to most likely), the 10 most possible deals Leon Rose will execute in the next 7 days with the hopes of bringing the Knicks to their 1st Playoff appearance since 2012-13.
10. Acquiring Devonte’ Grahamhttps://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
The New York Knicks Receive: Devonte’ Graham
The Charlotte Hornets Receive: Elfrid Payton & New York’s 2022 2nd Round Pick
Graham is on an expiring contract and the Hornets appear to have their backcourt of the future in LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier; making Graham expendable. Charlotte is having a surprisingly solid season thus far (20-19), thanks to the immediate emergence of Ball and resurgence of Gordon Hayward. Terry Rozier and P.J. Washington have been fantastic for Charlotte as well. Despite their strong play and current playoff seeding, the Hornets are somewhat stuck in the middle. They likely won’t elect to pay Graham this offseason, as their money could be more efficiently allocated towards their needs. Payton would offer a serviceable option at backup point guard with Ball taking the reins at the point for the majority of the minutes. The real return for Charlotte would be the 2022 2nd Round Pick. They would acquire an asset for Graham instead of letting him walk for more money this offseason and not gaining anything. Also, in 2022 the Hornets’ don’t own a 1st round pick. Adding another 2nd rounder could offer leverage to trade up into the 1st or have a 2nd swing at a cheap, underrated, prospect for their future.
The Knicks should have interest in Graham as he’s a proven 3 point shooter that can open up their offense (especially for RJ Barrett). New York owns multiple expiring contracts and the NBA’s cheapest payroll at the moment. Resigning Graham would be more than doable if he proves to be a nice piece alongside New York’s current core in the Starting Lineup or as a 6th man alongside Derrick Rose when Immanuel Quickley is ready to be New York’s prominent starting point guard. Graham would come at a bargain and be one of the few potential upgrades that wouldn’t cost major assets for the Knicks… as long as Leon Rose can persuade Charlotte to play the long game and move on from him.
9. Acquiring Lonzo Ballhttps://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
The New York Knicks Receive: Lonzo Ball
The New Orleans Pelicans Receive: Kevin Knox II, Obi Toppin, Reggie Bullock, New York’s 2021 1st Round Pick (via Dallas) Top 5 Protected, & New York’s 2023 2nd Round Pick (via Detroit)
One of the most intriguing teams in the league, the New Orleans Pelicans have been a major disappointment this season. Led by Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson, New Orleans appeared to be setup as an offensive juggernaut. Their offense hasn’t been enough as they’re currently 17-23, 11th in the Western Conference. Personally, I think the Pelicans would be crazy to deal Ball, but he’s set to become a Restricted Free Agent and will command big money this offseason. With the Pelicans core struggling mightily, perhaps they believe the money Ball will command is unwarranted and they’d rather acquire multiple assets to help build a more stable roster around Ingram and Williamson. Rumors have been swirling around the Pelicans’ dealing Ball ever since they used their 1st Round Pick on point guard, Kira Lewis, in last year’s draft.
The list of reasons why the Knicks would want Lonzo Ball is long. He’s one of the premier, perimeter defenders in the NBA, and he has greatly improved his 3 point shooting the past couple seasons. On top of that, Ball is most known for his facilitating. The Knicks best assist-man is Julius Randle. New York hasn’t had a prolific point guard in what feels like forever. Ball could finally be their longterm answer at the point and help players such as RJ Barrett, Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson, and Obi Toppin (if he isn’t part of the deal) obtain easier scoring opportunities. The question would be if acquiring Ball could provide a roadblock to the fan-favorite, Immanuel Quickley. I would argue Ball and Quickley could fit quite well together as their games compliment each other. Ball offers size, defense, and facilitating, while Quickley offers scoring/shooting at a very high level (yet lacks size and has struggled with defense and facilitating). Not to mention, Quickley has proven to be a tremendous spark off the bench for the Knicks 2nd Unit, where he could shine for the foreseeable future. Acquiring Ball and paying him whatever it takes to stay, would return an upside that far outweighs the costs.
8. Selling Elfrid Payton/Austin Rivers
Pat Connaughton warming up for the dunk contest 😮 pic.twitter.com/V7Cm1ubzXa— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 5, 2020
The New York Knicks Receive: Pat Connaughton & Bryn Forbes
The Milwaukee Bucks Receive: Elfrid Payton, Austin Rivers, & New York’s 2022 2nd Round Pick
Milwaukee is doing everything they can to win a Championship this season. They know their window is open and won’t last forever. Their bench needs help and they’ve just looked to add front court depth by acquiring P.J. Tucker. They have hardly any draft capital or salary cap left to add a backup point guard (which they desperately need). Payton could be an easy, cheap, answer for them along with adding another veteran shooter in Rivers. The draft pick would also help restock their picks in the future. Connaughton and Forbes have played significant minutes off the bench, but come playoff time, they wouldn’t be heavily relied on. Also, if the Bucks are going to add a backup point guard, they are virtually their two easiest salaries to deal that won’t result in a major loss of production.
Rose has an absurd amount of 2nd round picks in the coming years and moving 1 of them, wouldn’t be much of a loss. Connaughton is on the books for 3 years at a reasonable $4.9M. He has shown upside as a consistent scorer and 3 point weapon off the bench. Forbes is another cheap backup on the books for 2 years at $2.3M, who’s known for his perimeter shooting. Both players could be valuable for the Knicks moving forward and provide depth if the Knicks look to make blockbuster deal in the future.
7. Selling Alec Burkshttps://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
The New York Knicks Receive: E’Twaun Moore, Abdel Nader, & Pheonix’s 2023 2nd Round Pick
The Phoenix Suns Receive: Alec Burks
Phoenix is having an unbelievable season (26-12) and should be looking to win now with Chris Paul at the age of 35. The Suns have a very well rounded squad, but extra fire-power off the bench would be useful. Alec Burks would provide another spark who could shoot it off the bench on the wing for them alongside Dario Saric, Frank Kaminsky, Cameron Payne, and Langston Galloway. The Suns wouldn’t be offering much (2 cheap, expiring deals, and a future 2nd).
Moving Burks would hurt the Knicks depth and scoring off the bench, but could free up time for Kevin Knox II. It would also provide another future pick for an expiring contract. Gaining an asset for Burks while not committing to any longterm money would be precisely why Brock Aller wanted the Knicks to sign Alec Burks in the 1st place. This would be a very minute, yet savvy move.
6. Acquiring Buddy Hield
Buddy Hield🔥— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) January 28, 2020
42 PTS on 24 FGA
20 PTS (6-6 FG) in the 4th
The Kings came back from a 27-PT deficit and won by 4!
The New York Knicks Receive: Buddy Hield
The Sacramento Kings Receive: Kevin Knox II, Frank Ntilikina, Austin Rivers, & New York’s 2021 1st Round Pick (via Dallas) Top 5 Protected
Buddy Hield is one of the premier shooters in the NBA and the Kings are desperate for talent. Sacramento may not be shopping Hield, but they are 16-24 and should commit to a rebuild. They have a star in De’Aaron Fox and a stud youngster in Tyrese Haliburton (who I was very high on coming into last year’s draft). That will most definitely be their backcourt of the future and although Hield can play the 3, he doesn’t quite fit with those two and Harrison Barnes (who’s owed over $22M for 3 years). Acquiring Kevin Knox II, who can really shoot it off-ball and has plenty of potential, would be a smart pickup for the Kings. Ntilikina would offer them some defensive help (which they need a lot of). Rivers could be a culture setter and scorer off the bench, filling some of the shots left after dealing Hield. The biggest attraction in this offer would be the Mavericks pick. It will likely result in a pick between 10-20 in a loaded draft class, helping Sacramento retool their roster.
Rose will likely deal Knox II in any move that returns a significant upgrade, as he’s lost his spot in Thibs’ rotation. The Dallas 1st rounder has lots of value, but the Knicks would still own their own 1st along with the Piston’s 2nd (which will be a 2nd round salary at an almost 1st round pick), making him more willing to part with the Mavericks’ pick. Hield would open up the Knicks offense and thrive playing alongside Randle (consider Randle’s chemistry with Bullock). Hield is locked up at just over $24M for 4 years, instantly making him a part of the Knicks longterm plans.
5. Selling Nerlens Noelhttps://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
The New York Knicks Receive: Elijah Hughes & Utah’s 2025 2nd Round Pick
The Utah Jazz Receive: Nerlens Noel
The Jazz currently have the best record in the NBA (29-10), but are desperate for rim protection when Rudy Gobert is resting. Just look at their opponents’ bigs off the bench in their last 3 games (Robert Williams- 7/10FG & 14pts, James Wiseman- 8/11FG & 16pts, Kenyon Martin Jr.- 15pts). Trading a player they never play and a 2nd round pick in 2025 is virtually nothing and can be the difference in them winning a championship or not. This deal would be a no-brainer for them.
The Knicks would make this trade because Taj Gibson has been serviceable as a backup Center, perhaps they acquire a Center elsewhere (cough cough Andre Drummond), and it’s adding another pick to pile. Noel is on an expiring contract and this would be another Brock Aller special. Using short-term cap space to acquire draft picks is an easy minor victory for the Knicks.
4. Acquiring Andre Drummondhttps://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
The New York Knicks Receive: Andre Drummond
The Cleveland Cavaliers Receive: Kevin Knox II, Nerlens Noel, & Austin Rivers
The Cavaliers have made it known, Andre Drummond has played his last game as a Cavalier. If he isn’t traded, he will be bought out… making the Cavs very willing to accept any decent offer.
Why would the Knicks trade for Drummond when it’s likely that he will be bought out you ask? Well if Drummond is bought out, I’d presume he’d sign with a contender (Nets or Lakers), instead of the Knicks. Those teams however, don’t have the current cap space to take on Drummond’s expiring contract via trade. Thus, the Knicks will get him if they make any offer that can beat the Raptors (?) or perhaps another team interested. Drummond could be used as a starter, but I’d really love him as a scorer for the 2nd Unit, who destroys other teams’ backup Centers. He can obviously play some minutes alongside Randle, thanks to Randle’s improvements from three and on defense. Drummond under the tutelage of Tom Thibodeau and Kenny Payne would be extremely intriguing as well. If Drummond were to prove his worth, the Knicks have ample room to sign him to a multi-year deal in the offseason (lets say roughly 3 years & $45M).
3. Acquiring Victor Oladipo
Victor Oladipo has 30 points on 73% shooting through 3 quarters 👀 pic.twitter.com/tg6L2TfIJ2— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) March 17, 2021
The New York Knicks Receive: Victor Oladipo
The Houston Rockets Receive: Kevin Knox II & New York’s 2021 2nd Round Pick (via Detroit)
Rebuild, rebuild, rebuild, should be the motto of the Houston Rockets after trading James Harden. They’re currently 11-28 and don’t have a young core. They should deal Oladipo and Eric Gordon for picks/assets and build around John Wall and Christian Wood. Kevin Porter Jr. has high upside for them, but the Rockets still need help on the wing. Kevin Knox II would be given plenty of minutes to grow and show his offensive capabilities. Couple that with acquiring a top 2nd round pick, the Rockets should be interested in this offer for the expiring Oladipo. Oladipo will likely sign with a contender in the offseason, thus the Rockets primary priority should be moving him before the trade deadline to acquire assets.
Although Oladipo could walk this offseason to join a team like Miami, plus he does have serious injury concerns, he’s worth a gamble for the Knicks. He’s currently coming off a 41 point night vs Atlanta and is known as a polished defender. He is also capable of being a legitimate closer down the stretch of games. His fit with the Knicks would be stellar as he can play the point or shooting guard and provide 3 point shooting. His defense and effort plays right into the Thibodeau-Knicks culture and his offense would help ease the pressure on Randle and Barrett. Losing him in the offseason would certainly be a concern, but I truly believe playing in the playoffs for Thibs and with the rest of this roster, along with playing in the Mecca for the New York Knicks, would be enough to sell him to resign. Also, netting a player of Oladipo’s caliber for just Knox II and a 2nd rounder is the best deal, value wise, on the market.
2. Acquiring JJ Redickhttps://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
The New York Knicks Receive: JJ Redick
The New Orleans Pelicans Receive: Kevin Knox II
The Pelicans aren’t going anywhere this year and Redick is an aging shooter on an expiring contract. Trading him seems like the most obvious move for them. Acquiring a similar level shooter who’s 15 years younger and under contract for another season is an obvious decision and they should do it in a heartbeat.
Moving Knox II for a 36 year old role player wouldn’t be the sexiest decision (or my favorite). Yet, this seems like a deal Rose and the Knicks would seriously consider. Knox II is out of the rotation and it appears he isn’t going to get an opportunity here in the foreseeable future unless the Knicks trade other players. Redick would help the team make a playoff push this season and provide more veteran leadership that will help continuing to build a “winning culture”. Arguably just as valuable, we could finally see what players such as Julius Randle and RJ Barrett are capable of while sharing the floor with a serious shooter, who defenses respect. This would be a short-term decision to help bring immediate leadership and intel. It’s also worth noting Redick is still very friendly with Julius Randle and wants to be closer to his family (who live in Brooklyn).
1. Acquiring Evan Fournierhttps://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
The New York Knicks Receive: Evan Fournier
The Orlando Magic Receive: Kevin Knox II, Austin Rivers, & New York’s 2021 2nd Round Pick (via Detroit)
The Magic are exactly where every franchise hopes to avoid; stuck in mediocrity. They’ve been plagued by injuries and have had a disappointing season thus far (13-26). Nikola Vucecic is their best player and although they may deal him, he’s likely staying. The Magic have promise in youngsters Markelle Fultz, Cole Anthony, and Jonathan Isaac. Their next decisions are, what should they do with Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier, and Terrence Ross? Ross has been a stud for them off the bench and is locked in for 3 years on a very team-friendly deal. Unless they are offered significant value for him (which is unlikely as he’s a 6th man on a losing team), I don’t see him being moved. Gordon is definitely a candidate to be traded, but he has 2 years left on his deal so they don’t have to make that decision today. This leaves Evan Fournier. Fournier is a tremendous scorer/shooter, but he won’t be the guy that takes the Magic over the hump. He’s 28 years old, on an expiring contract, dealt with some minor injuries, and is about to get paid this offseason. If the Magic know what is good for them, they’ll trade him this week. Returning Knox II and a high 2nd isn’t spectacular, but no-one is going to get into a bidding war for the expiring Fournier. Albeit, adding two more pieces to their young core makes sense for this team and should push them to deal Gordon in the offseason for even more assets to rebuild their roster around Vucevic with younger talent.
This deal makes tons of sense for the Knicks because it costs little, adds a ton of help today, will help RJ grow due to the added spacing, and it’s unlikely anyone will offer more money to Fournier in the offseason than the Knicks if Leon Rose likes his fit with the team. Fournier is a very sneaky player that isn’t well known around NBA fanbases because he plays for the Orlando Magic. However, the guy is a bonafide scorer and I’m sure he would love to spray 3s all over Madison Square Garden. His fit and value at that price would be an excellent addition for the New York Knicks.
Other Names To Watch
- Myles Turner
- Eric Bledsoe
- Josh Hart
- Kyle Lowry
- Ricky Rubio
- Cam Reddish
- Kevin Huerter