With the opening fifth of the season complete, the Knicks have some glaring needs they could possibly address via the trade market.
It is nearly impossible to be a Knicks fan and not get caught up by the rampant trade rumors that surround the team year in and year out, regardless of the record. That is only going to increase as the Knicks’ start to the season has been inconsistent at best. On any given night in the ever-growing world of Knicks Twitter, you will see fake trades of everyone from Julius Randle and RJ Barrett to rookies that have barely gotten on the court.
Everybody thinks they can make the Knicks better, but it all comes down to what those tasked with that job will do. So far, Leon Rose has a pretty solid track record with the Knicks fanbase at large, but that patience may be running out if struggles continue and no moves are made.
A case can be made that the Knicks’ best course of action would be to stand still and hope that the positives demonstrated last year play out with improvement from Randle and a more sustainable leap from Barrett. However, if the Knicks are to be active as the team approaches the February 10th trade deadline, there will be no shortage of targets for them to pursue. When looking at who may be available, there are a few variables to consider.
When looking through the history of trades, you can see common threads for what types of teams are the common sellers. Will a team that is at the bottom of the barrel be willing to get rid of role players to commit to the tank? There could always be a disappointing team, resulting in a fire sale or a max contract player asking for a trade. Sometimes the planets align for the right situation to get help for a playoff push, and other times a struggling team can panic and force a move with significant long-term repercussions.
So let’s get to some of the potential candidates that the Knicks could target to bolster this roster, looking to get back into the playoffs for the second straight year, and supplement their young core with pieces to help both the present and the future.
Tier 1: Superstar(ish)
This tier is pretty simple: an All-Star player asks for a trade and the Knicks put all of their chips in to make a move to win a title. This could be complicated and would have to include RJ Barrett, but the right player could make that worth it.
- Damian Lillard: It would be impossible to write this article without including the possibility of Dame in the Garden. He would be one of the most exciting players and biggest stars in the history of the legendary franchise. This has been rumored time and time again, but if ever possible, would be a lightning bolt to the city.
39 points (season high)
3 blocks pic.twitter.com/RrpypenU2V
— NBA (@NBA) November 21, 2021
- Karl-Anthony Towns: With each year Towns plays in Minnesota, fans around the league beg for him to be saved from a historically frustrating franchise. If this ever happens, the Knicks would have to hope Towns could follow the footsteps of Kevin Garnett and Kevin Love and win a title in a new location.
- Ben Simmons: This would be the most divisive possible choice and might be a signal of an emergency panic reaction, but a case can be made for the 23-year-old All-Star. With four years still on his contract and his value at an all-time low, there could be a trade worth doing before the deadline.
Tier 2: Quality Starter
This player would be a starter that could be an improvement now, but also be a long-term player to help build around. This would be a player that requires an important trade haul but would not have to include RJ Barrett. This is a package that could be built around someone like Mitchell Robinson or Obi Toppin and draft packages with salary to match.
- Myles Turner: This is the obvious one that has been brought up for years now and is more likely than ever. The Pacers are an appealing candidate for the “blow it up” team this year after an underwhelming start. Not only could the Pacers be a team willing to trade their whole roster, but time is passing on the chance to say that fit works. With Mitchell Robinson’s contract up at the end of the year, the Knicks could do a lot worse than the DPOY candidate. Myles Turner is an elite defensive center with offensive upside, but the 25-year-old would fit nicely on the court as well as within the timeline next to Julius Randle.
Myles Turner is an incredible defender pic.twitter.com/2zTkLRUAlM
— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) November 22, 2021
- Buddy Hield: The Knicks are shooting 36.8% from three, which is good enough for third in the league, but at a time where shooting is at a premium, you can never have enough. Buddy Hield is a career 40% three-point shooter, and over last year and the beginning of this one, he is attempting over 10 shots a game from beyond the arc. This sort of shooting would significantly help the Knicks create spacing and the 16 points per game scorer would give another player to lighten the offensive load if Barrett and Randle are struggling. The Kings’ early-season struggles, coupled with the firing of Luke Walton, make them another prime candidate for a fire sale.
- Dejounte Murray: San Antonio is chock-full of young guards, some of which many Knicks fans were hoping to draft after the last few years. One of those players has risen above the rest and made it clear he is an elite two-way player. The long 6’4″ guard is one of the best perimeter defenders in the league. That defense along with his impressive 18-8-8 stat-line this season would make him a dream guard to make up a long-term backcourt. Kemba Walker and Derrick Rose were never going to be the future at point guard, and that is a job that is still completely up for grabs. The shifty guard brings playmaking ability that would benefit the whole team. The exciting 25-year-old would be another player that would be a dream fit with Randle and Barrett should the Spurs look to move on and look towards the future.
Have been impressed with Dejounte Murray's growth as an interior passer this year. Seeing more openings, taking more risks, finding more ways to set up scores: pic.twitter.com/NVzOTjCy8v
— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) November 24, 2021
Tier 3: Role Player
As mentioned earlier, the Knicks are an above league average three-point shooting team, with the majority of those three-point attempts coming from the starting lineup. The bench gets the majority of its shooting from Immanuel Quickley and Alec Burks who are averaging 8.9 and 9.8 points per game, respectively. Could the bench be bolstered more? Yes. More so than if it could, could it be done for cheap? These players could potentially be acquired for a much cheaper price from teams no longer trying to compete or looking for a wholesale change.
Kevin Huerter: Huerter is the youngest of these players and while the Hawks did just sign him to a $65 million extension over the next four years, there may be too many cooks in the kitchen. Not only has Huerter’s scoring decreased from last year to this, but he has also gone down two shot attempts per game and a full six minutes a game. If the Hawks decide the fit is not there and they want to move on, the Knicks should be jumping at the call to take on another shooter to add to the bench.
— Bally Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnBally) November 21, 2021
Eric Gordon: Of all the teams that could look to move on from role players, no team would benefit from it more than the Houston Rockets. In the past draft, the Rockets added four players within the top 24 picks. Those players are fighting for playing time along with young players like Kenyon Martin Jr. and Kevin Porter Jr. Rockets fans would be the first to tell you they don’t want to see Eric Gordon taking up time on the court for a team that needs to be prioritizing the future. While Gordon still has a couple of years left on his $18-plus million contract annually, he is still a valuable asset off the bench and can produce at a high level. Gordon is shooting 42% for three from deep on five attempts per game and would be another player that can get off his own shot.
"Eric Gordon puts up a 3… BANG"
We're going to OT in Houston!
— NBA (@NBA) January 20, 2019
Terrence Ross: If you have watched a game between the Magic and the Knicks in the last few years, you are more than familiar with Terrence Ross’ game. He always seems to go off against the Knicks, but that is something that could be useful on the other side. The Magic are another team on the rebuild that needs to prioritize the youth movement. If Ross is moved to clear space in Orlando, the Knicks should jump at the chance to get a microwave scorer off the bench.
It remains to be seen what the Knicks will do, and even more time will have to go by to determine if the right call is made. It is clear, however, that this is a team with options and choices and Leon Rose will get a chance to make a move as big as he would like. While the Knicks chase their successes from last year, there are guys they can pursue to help that journey but also players to help the long-term chances of this team. The rumblings and rumors will only get louder as the trade deadline approaches and that should be an extremely intriguing prospect to Knicks fans everywhere.