New report echoes ones of last few years: Knicks monitoring trade market for superstar

In this photo illustration, the New York Knicks logo is...
In this photo illustration, the New York Knicks logo is...

It's not a secret — the Knicks are looking for a true No. 1 option to make them contenders again. It’s been that way for a couple of years. They have eight first-round draft picks they could trade plus young talent to put in a deal. New York also has a talented roster to put around this imagined star — Jalen Brunson, Julius Randle, RJ Barrett — plus a sound system under coach Tom Thibodeau. New York has everything except one of the game's top 10 players, a true franchise cornerstone, and they are on the lookout for him.

Shams Charania of The Athletic updated that long-standing rumor on Wednesday.

The problem is, who is that star? They (and other teams) hoped a frustrated Giannis Antetokounmpo would ask out of Milwaukee, but the Bucks traded for Damian Lillard and Antetokounmpo signed an extension, he is staying put for a few years. A lot of eyes have been on Joel Embiid, but with Tyrese Maxey stepping up and the assets from the James Harden trade setting Daryl Morey up to make another deal — plus cap room next summer — Embiid seems happy and willing to play things out in Philly for a while.

The player most front offices are watching now is Luka Doncic, but he and Kyrie Irving appear to be on the same page while the Mavericks sit as the fifth seed in the West. Things are not tense in Dallas and Doncic does not seem poised to bolt. Maybe things will change once we see what happens in the playoffs, but for now, Doncic leaving in the next year seems a long shot.

The star most likely to be on the move is Karl-Anthony Towns — while the Timberwolves are on top of the West today, both Towns and Anthony Edwards have max contract extensions kicking in next season. On top of the $43.8 million Rudy Gobert makes. Then there is Mike Conley, who has been the glue for this roster and is an unrestricted free agent. Spotrac already has the Timberwolves at more than $13 million into the luxury tax next season, and the second apron kicks in at $17 million over the tax line. There will have to be changes, and the conventional wisdom around the league is that Towns will get traded.

However, as Charania asks, is that the guy the Knicks want to go all-in for? Does Towns put them over the top?

If things don't take off in Cleveland, will they consider moving Donovan Mitchell before he enters the final year of his contract, and is that the guy the Knicks want? There are always surprises, guys we don't think will be available who suddenly are, maybe one of those will interest the Knicks.

Up to this point, Leon Rose and this Knicks front office have been patient, and with the talent assembled, the Knicks are already a solid playoff team. They don't need to rush.

But when they swing next, the Knicks front office needs to hit a home run.