With teams looking to make trades up and down the NBA Draft order, it’s worth looking at which Knicks can and can’t be included in potential trade packages.
The New York Knicks are in a fortunate position to have drafted well in decent years and possess a wealth of potential young talent. Their success toward the back end of the NBA Draft in recent years has allowed them a good number of players to offer up as trade bait to the right suitor.
In the rare event that the Utah Jazz call about Donovan Mitchell, or a team like the Sacramento Kings call about wanting to move out of the fourth pick for a win-now player, the Knicks need to have a hierarchy of players that they are willing to part ways with for the right deal. The front office should have a pretty good picture of who their most prized assets are, and keep those players far off the table in trade talks.
Now no player is ever truly untouchable—if Milwaukee Bucks GM Jon Horst becomes brainwashed and decides to sell high on Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Knicks should offer every player on the roster. In any other scenario, though, here’s how the current Knicks should rank.
RJ Barrett: Last One In The Discussion
Wrapping up his third NBA season and first season averaging over 20 points per game, Barrett is the crown jewel of the organization. He’s shown remarkable improvements across the board in each season thus far and put up All-Star-caliber numbers in the second half of this past season. Fated to reach an All-Star team in the imminent future, he’s the most important player to the future of the Knicks. He should be off the table in just about every trade discussion.
RJ BARRETT 2021-22 SEASON HIGHLIGHT TAPE ⬇️https://t.co/uk9sFneu0P
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) May 13, 2022
Julius Randle: First Name On The Table
Following an All-NBA campaign in 2020–21, Randle regressed in a major way this past season. His scoring per game total dropped by four points, and his three-point shooting percentage dipped by double digits. Right after the team inked him to a relatively team-friendly four-year, $117 million extension last offseason, he turned right back into the divisive player he was in his first year with the team.
Now, with four years worth of guaranteed money and an uncertain place in the Knicks’ future plans, he should be the big-ticket item the team is willing to offer in trades. To contenders looking for one more high-caliber player to contribute to a win-now team, Randle is the one to shop. Still only 27 years old, he’s certainly the player that would yield the Knicks the best package. He alone should allow the Knicks a first-round draft pick and a prospect or two in return.
Evan Fournier: A Salary Dump/Throw-In To The Right Team
Fournier’s signing with the Knicks was immediately met with raised eyebrows. A player not known much for anything other than his shooting, he was given a four-year, $78 million deal by the Knicks last offseason that includes a team option on the last year. Fournier had his ups and downs throughout the season, but largely had the worst year of his career. His 14.1 points per game are the fewest he’s averaged since the 2014–15 campaign.
Trading Fournier would be difficult given the money he’s owed and the inefficiency he showed last season, and would most likely be a salary dump. It could work out if the player in return is in a similar situation, though. Take Russell Westbrook and the Lakers, for example. A fellow player on a down year owed a lot of money, perhaps Westbrook is looked at by the Knicks as a player that can fill the explosive point guard void that’s been missing for some time. In a situation where both teams would just want to get rid of the mess they created the season prior, this is a potential one-for-one trade for Fournier that could work and not be a straight salary dump.
🗣🗣🗣 EVAN 40NIER
Evan Fournier erupts for a career night vs. the Celtics in an instant classic.
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) January 7, 2022
Mitchell Robinson: Sign-and-Trade Or Nothing
Robinson, now an unrestricted free agent, seems not to have had any open discussions with the Knicks about re-signing yet. If he were to re-sign with the Knicks coming off his best career year, that’d be welcome. Contrarily, it would be tough to see him walk away and sign with another team for nothing.
The third option for Robinson, if he does choose to leave, would be a sign-and-trade. This way, the Knicks can give Robinson what he wants while also getting something in return for him. They could move him to a team that needs a center, like the Dallas Mavericks, in exchange for a first-round draft pick. If the Knicks decide to make a move on Jalen Brunson, the sign-and-trade could help in a deal focused around him, as well.
Cam Reddish: Secretly The Most Pivotal Trade Piece
Reddish’s time with the Knicks thus far has been incredibly rocky. Head coach Tom Thibodeau was resistant to altering his rotations to accommodate Reddish at the time he was traded to the Knicks, so he spent a good portion of the season on the bench. When he finally did get playing time, the results were middling. His shot was inconsistent, but he knows how to create his own scoring opportunities. He often looks helpless on defense but does have a knack for reading passes. Either way, his shoulder injury suffered in March cost Reddish the final 17 regular-season games, giving no clear answer on who he is as a player.
It’s unsure if the Knicks plan on retaining him (has a team option for next season) or using his status as a reason to trade him. With the verdict largely still out on him, teams may buy into Reddish solely off his potential. The to-be fourth-year player has a lot to prove still but could pay off in a major way. So, Reddish could be a huge piece in a blockbuster trade for someone like Donovan Mitchell or Damian Lillard.
You have to play Cam Reddish and RJ Barrett together more pic.twitter.com/lgIv8m9sk9
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) February 27, 2022
Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel: The Contracts That Fit Anywhere
Burks and Noel, both re-signed to three-year deals with third-year team options last summer, should be the easiest throw-ins the Knicks are willing to offer in any trade. Each with contracts that net them around $10 million a year, Burks and Noel are two veteran players that could make an impact in the right situation for a pretty league-average cost.
Burks is the more tradable of the two, given his high usage last season (albeit at his out-of-place point guard role). Noel played all of 25 games last year due to a litany of injuries, and any team trading for him would need to consider his medical history. In a trade for an All-Star-type player where more salary may be needed to make the books work, though, look no further than these two.
The 2020 Rookies (Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickley): Gone For The Right Price
In their two professional seasons with the Knicks, Toppin and Quickley have gone hand-in-hand with the identity of the Knicks. Toppin brings the energy with his high-flying dunks and acrobatic offensive arsenal, and Quickley lights the bench unit aflame with his three-point shooting and knack for drawing fouls. They are both crucial members of the team and could flourish in expanded roles if given the chance. Toppin is limited to about 10 minutes per game behind Randle, though, and Thibodeau seems hesitant to give Quickley the keys to the starting point-guard role.
If that’s simply the usage to which the team shall limit them, it only makes sense to have at least one of them included as a major piece in a trade for an All-Star level player. As wonderful as it would be to see them reach their full potential as Knicks, if the front office/coaching staff doesn’t think they’ll succeed right now, then they’ll be dealt away for someone they believe is. Parting with either of these two would be such sweet sorrow.
The 2021 Draft Class (Quentin Grimes, Miles McBride, Jericho Sims, Rokas Jokubaitis): First Names Brought Up That Aren’t Randle
The Knicks followed up their excellent 2020 NBA Draft with four solid players selected with later picks in the 2021 draft. Grimes, the team’s only first-round selection, found his way into Thibodeau’s rotation early thanks to his stalwart defense and sweet three-point shooting. McBride and Sims found playing time, too, as the season progressed and the team was out of the playoff race. McBride proved competent as a point guard option, careful with the ball in his hands but not a high scorer. Sims’ ability around the rim made him look like a good backup center option in the future.
The three showed prowess as NBA players, but definitely nothing worth making the front office think twice about them as trade options. If anything, their positive play only made them more elusive around the league. If the Knicks look to trade for an All-Star, these are the low-ball offers to give up first. Jokubaitis, still playing overseas, would be worth throwing in as well since his NBA abilities remain a mystery.
Derrick Rose and Kemba Walker: Not Worth Trading For
The Knicks seemed to have struck gold last offseason, re-signing one of the league’s best sixth men in Rose and bringing the Bronx-native Walker home to play point guard. Well, Rose played a total of 26 games before succumbing to season-ending injuries, and Walker’s fit with the team was a poor one that saw him no longer showing up to games shortly after midseason. They are each on contract for one more season (Rose having a team option for an additional season) for a combined $23 million, but figure to either stay put or be bought out rather than traded.
Rose’s injury history throughout his body is extensive now, and at 33 years old, who knows what he has left in the tank. Walker, now 31, has his own knee injuries to share. If anyone were to take a flier on these two, it would be at the league minimum after they are bought out.
Taj Gibson: Included In This Exercise Only So No One Feels Left Out
C’mon, this man is never leaving Thibs’ side.