In the second-to-last division, we look at teams with which the Knicks could trade in the Southwest Division, including the reviled Mavs.
As the New York Knicks end another season devoid of a postseason bid, the franchise will shift its focus to the draft, free agency, and the trade market. Team president Leon Rose’s inaugural offseason is another chapter of New York’s attempt to climb back into playoff contention.
New York could orchestrate a trade with any team in the league to better position themselves for the future, though some trades will need a third team to get done. In this series, I will detail trades with each team in a division that would help the Knicks’ rebuild.
Trading with Dallas would bring back painful memories of the Kristaps Porzingis trade but this one wouldn’t be nearly as franchise-altering, giving New York less of a chance to royally screw up its future. Dallas would send New York two role players and a future draft pick in exchange for role players on expiring contracts.
Luka Doncic could make Dallas an attractive free-agent destination, so it would be wise for the Mavericks to make cap room to add talented players. In this trade, Dallas would erase roughly $30 million in future cap space while opening up just over $15 million in cap space for the summer of 2021. The Mavericks wouldn’t lose that much depth in this transaction, as both Gibson and Ellington (a former Maverick) are still decent players with playoff experience.
Meanwhile, New York would gain another draft selection and welcome two players younger than the ones they send away. Delon Wright, a well-rounded wing that can defend, shoot and handle the ball, and Dwight Powell, an athletic rim-runner, would be solid additions to Tom Thibodeau’s rotations (though Powell would need to continue rehabilitating his torn Achilles).
Striking a deal with the Rockets isn’t very likely given what the Knicks have to offer. Houston’s key role players are better than New York’s and every other Rocket is on expiring and/or cheap contracts. The deal that makes the most sense is New York and Houston swapping wings Reggie Bullock and Danuel House Jr.
Bullock and House are both 3-and-D forwards standing 6-foot-6 and are only two years apart in age, with the 29-year-old Bullock being the elder. The Rockets gaining Bullock would allow them to maintain the rotations they currently have and a second-round pick that could be early in the round would afford them the opportunity to add a good player on a cheap contract.
In exchange for adding a quality 3-and-D wing on a cheap contract, New York would swap second-round picks with Houston, sending Charlotte Hornet’s pick in exchange for that of the Rockets. This could put New York roughly 15 spaces back in the second round but would ensure them another year of a solid role player.
Like the aforementioned Mavs, the Grizzlies are led by a young stud in Ja Morant and could be seen as an ideal destination for free agents. Creating cap space could help Memphis reel in a big fish, and in this trade, they would do so by swapping Kyle Anderson for Wayne Ellington.
Ellington would provide floor spacing for Morant, one of the league’s most athletic guards and exciting slashers, while opening up more minutes at power forward for promising rookie Brandon Clarke.
The Knicks would receive 26-year-old forward Kyle Anderson, a switchable defender and solid passer, and a future second-round draft pick. The pick has numerous protections based on standings, so it could be from either the Rockets, Heat, or Mavericks.
New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans’ front office is looking to surround their young studs Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, and Lonzo Ball with a competitive team. To help with that cause, New York could send them two veteran sharpshooters.
Coming to New York in the trade would be Darius Miller (mainly for salary-matching reasons) and Nickeil Alexander-Walker, the key asset the Knicks would obtain in the deal. The 21-year-old guard was picked 17th overall in last year’s draft and despite having potential as a complementary scorer and playmaker, he needs plenty of polish in order to reach it.
New Orleans, who may not want to wait for Alexander-Walker to improve, would receive a starting level 3-and-D wing in Bullock, a career 37.8% three-point shooter in Ellington and a first-round pick.
San Antonio Spurs
It’s tough to decide what trade makes sense for the 11th place Spurs, who rely on a mix of old and young guys and haven’t leaned towards an all-out championship chase or tank. This trade could help them out either way. Receiving Ellington and Bullock would give San Antonio two solid veterans that can be flipped at the trade deadline if the franchise decides to fully rebuild.
The Knicks would welcome 2014 champion Patty Mills. The soon-to-be 32-year-old is still somewhat productive, averaging 11.7 points and shooting 38.0% from beyond the arc. New York would also add another draft pick to its war chest, which could potentially be its fifth pick in the top 45 selections.