The Knicks are toeing the line of developing their young players while trying to compete for a playoff spot. Rookies Immanuel Quickly and Obi Toppin won’t lead New York deep into the playoffs, but the organization would be mad to gut their promising roster.
THE BIG ONE
Any trade would decimate the Knicks, relegating Beal to playing with a roster worse than the one he already has in Washington.
A deal makes no sense for both sides and will not happen.
OLADIPO AND LaVINE: PATIENCE
Victor Oladipo is on the trading block, and the Knicks are currently “monitoring” his situation. Oladipo is an unrestricted free agent in the offseason and the Houston Rockets are entering a rebuild after James Harden’s departure.
But Oladipo has his eyes on Miami. Trading for Oladipo just to watch him leave in free agency would be devastating and the first big trip up in Leon Rose’s tenure. If Oladipo and New York are a match, we’ll find out in free agency.
Here is Zach LaVine’s situation: He is averaging 28.6 points per game and was just named to his first All Star Team. And despite Chicago’s struggles, they sit as the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference.
LaVine’s contract expires following the 2021-2022 season, and expect the Bulls to do everything they can to hold on to him.
Similar to Oladpio, we’ll find out about LaVine’s desires as his free agency approaches.
There is no obvious target for the Knicks.
TEAMS ON THE CUSP
In the Western Conference, the New Orleans Pelicans find themselves in a similar position to the Knicks: developing while competing. And that is very generous to the Knicks. Any New York fan would take Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram over Julius Randle and RJ Barrett.
However, expect the Pelicans and the Knicks to at least discuss a potential swap.
New Orleans may part ways with Lonzo Ball. He is a restricted free agent this offseason. Ball has improved his trade value as the season has progressed. He is now shooting a career high 43% from the field and 39% from three.
A great defender whose shooting continues to improve would be a great fit in Coach Tom Thibodeau‘s system.
But again, the Knicks would be outbid on Ball, and New York already has a crowded backcourt.
Playing besides Ball may be a more likely target for the Knicks: J.J. Redick.
Redick apparently wants out of New Orleans and would prefer a trade to New York. His family lives in Brooklyn and Redick wants back in the northeast.
Would New Orleans buy low on the 22 year old Frank Ntilikina? Maybe. While the 36 year old Redick doesn’t fit the Knicks timeline particularly well, New York and Ntilikina’s breakup is inevitable: he’s played 42 minutes all year and is a free agent in the offseason. New Orleans may prefer a second round pick, and the Knicks have plenty.
(The Pelicans may also prefer a protected first round pick, in which case the Knicks should and will hang up.)
Redick would provide shooting off the bench that the Knicks lack. And in a potential play in game, the Knicks’ current ability beyond the arc could spell doom.
Redick wouldn’t change the future of the franchise, but could provide a great veteran presence for the young Knicks.
But again: Redick is already helping the Pelicans in the ways he would help the Knicks.
If Redick is on the move, a title contender like the Sixers or Bucks is much more likely.
With the play-in tournament and a shortened season, more teams are contenders and more teams are buyers.There will be an excess of demand at the trading deadline and the Knicks should not overpay for anyone who jeopardizes the future and flexibility of the team.
This is not to say that the Knicks will become a title contender by simply letting their current roster develop their offense won’t cut it.They need shooting and lack a high scoring wing that every elite team is built on. Kevin Knox is not that player.
And the Knicks may eventually break up their young core. Don’t be surprised if RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson are on the move in a couple of years.
But the Knicks must bolster their roster to the point that the addition of a star would be worth more than the cost.
Knicks fans have waited this long. They can wait a little bit longer.
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