After weeks of trade speculation, the Knicks have finally put together a deal, sending Cam Reddish and a protected first-round pick to the Trail Blazers for Josh Hart. 

Following several years of staying relatively quiet at the NBA trade deadline, the Knicks have finally rejoined the mix, cashing in on a guy that they believe can help them win in Josh Hart. To recap, New York sent over Cam Reddish, Ryan Arcidiacono, Svi Mykhailiuk, and a 2023 lottery-protected first-round pick in exchange for Hart. If the pick does not convey in this year’s draft, it turns into four future second-round picks.

This type of deal should make Knick fans happy. Outside of the talent on hand in Hart, the Knicks didn’t give up any rotational players and gave the Blazers a pick that is likely to convert this year with New York vying for a playoff spot. A job well done by Leon Rose and company, this is a trade that gives fans more clarity on the team’s direction. With winning now clearly established as the priority, it’ll be interesting to see what else the Knicks will have brewing before the deadline is over. For now, Hart is a solid defensive wing that can also provide scoring in whatever role he may be placed in.

 

Averaging 9.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 1.1 steals, Hart is a jack-of-all-trades type of player, doing whatever he needs to get his team the victory. Fans may remember him when Portland faced the Knicks at MSG on November 25th, when he recorded 10 points and 19 rebounds in a three-point win for the Blazers. His intangibles on defense along with his hustle will go a long way for this Knicks team, which currently ranks 28th in steals per game and 21st in second-chance points per game. Led by defensive-minded head coach Tom Thibodeau, New York lacked the defense to get it done on various occasions this season. Hart is a player who not only fits well in Thibodeau’s system, but also in Thibs’ ethos as a basketball mind.

Hart will reunite with former Villanova teammate Jalen Brunson after winning a National Championship together in 2016. It’s going to be fun seeing them play together again after having their separate journeys the past few years. Even though Hart has a player option at the end of this season, it wouldn’t be surprising if he stays put, especially with the chemistry he has with Brunson amongst others. I mean, look at how excited Jalen Brunson is at his own Villanova jersey retirement when the deal was announced and relayed to him:

How will Josh Hart fit in with the Knicks?

His role will obviously remain an enigma until all the details of the trade are sorted out and finalized, but I envision Hart as a player that will come off the bench for the team, playing alongside Immanuel Quickley and the bench unit. While it would be nice to feature some more defense in the starting lineup, Thibodeau has been reluctant to make alterations to the starters with injuries being the only exception. The most intriguing aspect of this trade is how he will impact a second unit that possesses two solid defensive guards in Deuce McBride and Immanuel Quickley. The three of them will be able to disrupt passing lanes and help the Knicks team defense soar to new heights.

This type of trade should also relieve Quentin Grimes from handling tough defensive assignments and should allow him to focus a little more on offense. Josh Hart is a swiss army knife that is ready for any situation you put him in, and is more than capable of being a pest against some of the league’s top offensive talent. He is a perfect Tom Thibodeau-type of player and fits a handful of needs that New York has struggled with in recent weeks. Most importantly: his rebounding has been something that the Knicks have needed all season long from a guy at his position.

Something I’ve personally highlighted in recent weeks is the Knicks’ inability to end defensive possessions properly. Often we see New York make a great initial closeout, just for the rest of the team to become lackadaisical rebounding the ball off the initial miss. Whether they’re out of position, not boxing out, or simply being out-hustled, the Knicks have allowed teams to get second-chance opportunities left and right, a trend that has been their downfall in more than one game. Josh Hart will be able to help change that. In the 99th percentile for defensive rebounds off of field goals at 18.8%, Hart is one of the best at rebounding the ball at his respective position, and the numbers back it up. He is also in the 98th percentile for offensive rebounds off of field goals, clocking in at 6%. He simply is a monster on the glass and will help the Knicks in many different departments for the remainder of the season.

It’s fair to question Hart’s shooting marks this season as he has shot just 30.4% from behind the arc for Portland, but a fresh start could be good for him. Before the Knicks acquired him, the Blazers had traded for him from the Pelicans at last year’s trade deadline. Despite only playing in 13 of the Blazers games the remainder of the season, he put up amazing marks: 19.9 points per game, 8.2 rebounds per game, and 3.9 assists per game on 50.3% from the field and 37.3% from downtown.

Finding himself in a similar situation once again, Hart is a perfect fit in New York considering the price that was sacrificed to acquire him. Now reunited with Jalen Brunson, the New York Knicks will look to turn the tides for the rest of the season. And with the fourth-hardest schedule to finish out the 2022-23 season, the acquisition of Josh Hart couldn’t have come at a better time. He now has the chance to become the team’s X-Factor down the line with more chemistry and more trust from the front office that this team can get it done and make a playoff push.

Amid all the rumors and speculation over the last year, the New York Knicks have handled the pressure and gotten things done at the end of the day. While the vision wasn’t necessarily seen by the fans over the summer, the front office has stayed committed to bringing in solid rotational players for the right price. Now with a bright and clear future ahead, the Knicks still have the majority of their first-round stash, with the flexibility to make a run at a star player in the offseason if they must.

Needless to say, it’s a great day to be a Knicks fan.

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