NBA teams: Knicks not expected to trade for top player, haven't been aggressive ahead of deadline

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Ian Begley
·3 min read
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Tom Thibodeau Treated Art 2
Tom Thibodeau Treated Art 2

Tom Thibodeau pushed for the Knicks to trade for Derrick Rose last month. So far, that move has worked out well. New York’s offense is much better with Rose on the court.

Earlier this week, Thibodeau was asked if he’d like the Knicks to make another trade before the March 25 deadline.

“That’s a Leon (Rose) question,” Thibodeau said, suggesting the reporter should ask the Knicks team president. “Look, I have a strong bias toward good players. I know they’re looking at all the possibilities. If something makes sense for us, we’ll do it. If not, I love the team that we have. I love the guys that we have on the team. We’ll just keep working with what we have and Leon and Wes (Knicks senior executive William Wesley), they’re combing the league. (GM) Scott Perry, that’s their job.”

With less than two weeks to go before the deadline, the Knicks have plenty of time to sort through potential deals. New York has been checking in with multiple teams in recent days, which is what you’d expect. But several teams said the Knicks haven’t taken an aggressive approach yet in any trade talks.

Those teams in touch with New York also didn’t expect the club to trade for a top player ahead of the trade deadline.

“Right now, it seems like they’re more open to something smaller,” one of the teams said.

Obviously, things can change between now and March 25. The Knicks can decide to be more aggressive in pursuing a top player, like Victor Oladipo.

But the idea that they’re more likely to make a minor deal aligns with the conservative approach they took in Rose’s first free agency.

Thibodeau said earlier this week that the Knicks were “looking at all the possibilities.” They are probably keeping an eye on dozens of potential trade targets across the league. Prior to the All-Star break, New Orleans’ JJ Redick was among the players the Knicks were keeping an eye on.

Redick is on an expiring contract. He would certainly bolster New York’s offense and outside shooting. The Athletic reported last month that the Pelicans were taking calls on Redick and guard Lonzo Ball. Per The Athletic, talks at the time were focused on sending Redick to a team near his home in Brooklyn. The Nets and Celtics have more pressing needs to address at the deadline. So Philadelphia and the Knicks could be in strong position to land Redick, assuming he only wants to play near his Brooklyn home and doesn’t agree to a buyout.

On Ball, the idea of adding the young guard has support within the Knicks organization. But Ball can be a restricted free agent this offseason. So any team interested in Ball would have to weigh the value of trading assets to acquire him in-season versus pursuing him in free agency this offseason.

The Knicks have some intriguing assets to work with at the trade deadline.

New York has five first-round picks in the next three drafts and an excess of future second-round picks. So the club can use that draft capital in a trade. The Knicks also have several young players (Kevin Knox, Frank Ntilikina) and veterans on short-term deals (Reggie Bullock, Alec Burks, Elfrid Payton) that teams may have interest in ahead of the deadline.

Julius Randle is also on a short-term contract. But you can be sure that Randle isn’t going to be moved ahead of the deadline. Prominent members of the organization view he and RJ Barrett as essential parts of the club’s young core moving forward.

So unless a top player becomes available before the deadline, Randle will be off limits in any talks ahead of March 25.