With the February 10 trade deadline rapidly approaching, the Knicks are expected to make a move before pencils down. There have been a number of issues plaguing the team on the court and some realities with their asset pile that need acknowledging.
Here are New York’s three biggest priorities entering the final days of trade season…
This Knicks front office has done a fabulous job taking better care of their books and draft stash than previous regimes. So good, in fact, that they need to make some moves or lose out on many of the benefits.
For reference, New York has all of its first-round picks, plus an extra Dallas Mavericks first. On top of that they have a ton of second-rounders, essentially their entire rotation locked up for two-plus years, and around seven prospects intriguing enough to worry about having to extend in the next few years. Rokas Jokubaitis is also killing it overseas and should join the roster next year.
Something has to give, as even at this moment the Knicks can’t find minutes for newly-acquired Cam Reddish. Combining some of these players and picks to trade for one or two pieces is due, barring a teardown in order to commit to a rebuild, which doesn’t appear likely.
So who do they trade for with all this stuff?
The Knicks, led by Leon Rose and Tom Thibodeau, aren’t looking to take steps back. That said, with their mediocrity on the court this season, no upgrade short of an All-Star caliber player will make enough of an impact.
It may not be the cream of the crop, but the Knicks have options available. Jerami Grant is on the trading block and fits the defensive profile. The Indiana Pacers are reportedly in the midst of a fire sale, with both their center and point guard capable of lifting up this Knicks lineup.
Most of these names would entail trading one serious piece like Mitchell Robinson or Obi Toppin, picks, and a veteran or two for salary-matching purposes. Weighing which assets the Knicks can stomach losing versus the potential return of a borderline or oft-injured talent will be an incredibly tough but necessary task with the overaccumulation issue.
The Knicks need a point guard. Kemba Walker gives up too much defensively, making up for it on the scoreboard occasionally, until his knee gives out again. Alec Burks is not a point guard, though Thibodeau hasn’t let that critique dictate his decision-making, unless it’s about Immanuel Quickley.
Of every position, point guard is clearly their weakest, and has been for years. There aren’t a great deal of options out there, but if the Knicks choose to make a bigger move, it may as well be for a lead guard.
One name often linked is Jalen Brunson, but he’s been a godsend for Dallas and they’re trying to compete for something this season. You can shell out for Fox or Malcolm Brogdon, or maybe try and bid high for a less popular name like Dejounte Murray or Anfernee Simons.