3 potential under-the-radar Knicks trades ahead of NBA deadline

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Ian Begley
·5 min read
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New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball dribbles ball vs Miami Heat
New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball dribbles ball vs Miami Heat

If you’ve been paying attention to the Knicks, you’ve known for a while now that the club feels well positioned to acquire a top player via trade. New York has five first-round picks in the next three drafts and significant cap space. The club also has a few talented young players to include in trades.

The Knicks, as the New York Post reported, are keeping an eye on Bradley Beal and Victor Oladipo. They are also monitoring the situation in Chicago around Zach LaVine.

It’s logical to assume that they have degrees of interest in trading for dozens of players at the moment.

For reasons discussed below, trading for Beal, Oladipo or LaVine seems like a long shot.

But if the Knicks want to upgrade their roster by March 25, there are other players they can target outside of those three

Below, we take a look at a few young players who can help the Knicks win both this year and beyond. (And who wouldn’t cost as much in a trade as Beal, Oladipo or LaVine.)

Terry Rozier:

Between LaMelo Ball, Rozier, DeVonte Graham and Malik Monk, the Hornets have a logjam in the backcourt. Charlotte values Rozier highly; there’s no indication that the club wants to move him. But given how well Ball has played, you’d think that the Hornets would at least listen to what teams had to offer for Rozier.

How would the 26-year-old fit on the Knicks? Long-term, you could see lineups with Rozier, Immanuel Quickley and RJ Barrett together. Rozier is a solid defender -- something that would likely appeal to Tom Thibodeau -- and has been shooting well this season.

People around the Hornets say Rozier doesn’t shy away from big moments, which would suggest that he could handle New York well.

Again, there’s no indication that Charlotte is open to moving Rozier. But it’s worth noting that last season, before Leon Rose took over, Charlotte and New York had talks about a trade involving Julius Randle, Dennis Smith Jr., Rozier and Monk.

Obviously, nothing came to fruition there. (Hindsight is 20/20, but all of the teams who had a chance to trade for Randle last season and during the 2020 offseason must be kicking themselves.)

Lonzo Ball:

We previously reported that New Orleans was looking for a significant return in any Lonzo Ball trades. The Knicks have the assets to make a Ball trade work. But they have Quickley and Derrick Rose. So is there room for Ball?

The former No. 2 overall puck will be a restricted free agent this summer. So if they like him, the Knicks could make Ball an offer in free agency and sign him without surrendering assets.

Ball is averaging a career-high 14 points with career-highs in field goal percentage and 3-point field goal percentage this season. But pairing him with Barrett could be a risk since neither player has been able to shoot from the perimeter consistently. (Other players in their final year of their rookie contracts who didn’t sign an extension – such as Chicago’s Lauri Markkanen and Atlanta’s John Collins – are always worth keeping an eye on as the trade deadline approaches.)

Buddy Hield:

Earlier in the season, several teams believed Hield was on his way out of Sacramento. At the time, the Kings had been seeking draft compensation in any trade of Hield. It’s unclear if Sacramento is still looking to move Hield, but the Knicks have draft compensation to offer. Hield is shooting below his career average from beyond the arc. But based on how he’s shot it over the course of his career, it’s reasonable to think that he can boost the Knicks’ perimeter shooting.

If I was making this list in the 2020 offseason, I’d add Kyle Kuzma. The Knicks had interest in trading for him prior to the 2020 trade deadline. But it would be surprising if the Lakers would deal Kuzma while they are trying to chase a championship.

Here’s why the players above are much more realistic trade options than Beal, Oladipo and LaVine:

Beal has consistently said that he wants to win in Washington. If Beal decides he wants to be traded, you’d think that he’d want to be moved to a contender.

The Knicks are having a solid season. But if they have to trade Barrett or Mitchell Robinson, multiple first-round picks – and more? - to get Beal from Washington, it’s hard to see how Beal would view the Knicks as a place where he can win.

Other potential Beal suitors – Miami, Lakers, Clippers – could offer Beal the chance to win right away.

So if he had his choice, would Beal want to be traded to the Knicks? It wouldn’t align with his stated desire to win. And he can essentially control where where he gets traded to because he can be a free agent in 2022.

Again: this is just my opinion. I could be wrong about the low probability of Beal landing in New York. But it seems like it would take a strong sell by the front office to convince Beal that he can win here after the Knicks send out what they’d have to send to get him.

OLADIPO: As we’ve noted, some with the Knicks see him as a strong addition. I don’t have a good read on how the top decision-makers feel about him. If the Knicks wanted to trade for Oladipo, it would come at a significant cost. Given that, would Oladipo re-sign in New York in the summer of 2021 if the roster is depleted? That’s a question the Knicks would have to weigh if they wanted to make a run at Oladipo.

LAVINE: There’s no indication yet that Chicago would be open to moving him. If the Bulls decided to gauge the market for LaVine, plenty of teams would be willing to offer a significant return. So New York would have to give up a lot to land LaVine.