With trade rumors resonating in Philadelphia, the New York Knicks should be looking to add the center of the future: Jahlil Okafor.
The New York Knicks’ free agent signings have brought an optimistic atmosphere to teammates and fans alike. Take a look at the 14-man roster for the 2016-2017 season.
Derrick Rose – PG
Brandon Jennings – PG
Courtney Lee – SG
Justin Holiday – SG
Sasha Vujacic – SG
Mindaugas Kuzminskas – SF
Carmelo Anthony – SF/PF
Lance Thomas – SF/PF
Kristaps Porzingis – PF/C
Kyle O’Quinn – PF
Maurice Ndour – PF
Joakim Noah – C
Willy Hernangomez – C
Marshall Plumlee – C
Brandon Jennings and Lance Thomas will be the core of the backup lineups that will allow the team to have a strong offensive punch.
A difficult situation arises if both Jennings and Thomas struggle to provide points on a consistent basis. This is why the move to acquire Jahlil Okafor could help the team go deep into the playoffs.
Jahlil Okafor, 2015-16 NBA Season
Position: Power Forward / Center
Age: 20 (12/15/1995)
Slash Line: .508/.167/.686
Season Averages: 30.0 MPG, 17.5 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.2 BPG
Okafor has the potential to become a franchise player. He has been often compared to a young Tim Duncan because of his footwork and his ability to play in the low post.
Alongside Kristaps Porzingis, they would be the future of the Knicks, assuming they can remain healthy and improve their skills. This is why the Knicks should arrange a package deal to entice the 76ers to complete the trade.
Different propositions include Kyle O’Quinn and/or Justin Holiday along with a future first round pick (2018 or 2019). Any deal including Holiday would not be possible until late August, but Okafor is definitely worth the wait.
Looking carefully at this proposition, if the 76ers are looking to deal Okafor, then they surely wouldn’t pull the trigger in return for just O’Quinn and/or Holiday. It’s even doubtful that the 76ers would be persuaded by the package of O’Quinn, Holiday and the future first round pick.
However, there’s no reason why New York shouldn’t consider other options. Prior to the start of July, no one in their right mind even considered that Robin Lopez would be used as a bargaining chip to be traded for another player.
Phil Jackson surprised the world when Robin Lopez and Jerian Grant were traded to the Chicago Bulls for Derrick Rose.
With that mindset, there is no reason to believe that players other than Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis are exempt from being traded. It’s up to the front office to get creative on a package that is persuasive enough to please both parties.
Involving a third team in the trade may make it a more viable way of obtaining Okafor.
Now, sooner or later we should start thinking about a post-Anthony Knicks roster. Okafor and Porzingis would prevent the Knicks from ever repeating that franchise-worst 17-win season that occurred in 2014-2015.
According to A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com, an NBA scout said the following with regards to Jahlil Okafor’s trade rumors.
"“From the moment Philly drafted Ben [Simmons], everyone around the league knew that they would have to trade a big, either Okafor or Nerlens [Noels]…Okafor is the better scorer; it’s not even close really. But Nerlens has that ability to run the floor and can protect the rim. Those two qualities . . . you can’t have enough guys in the frontcourt who call those two skills, strengths. That’s why Okafor is the more expendable player.”"
Another problem to consider is Holiday being traded. As of now, there’s no strong role player coming off the bench as shooting guard for the Knicks.
In losing Holiday, the Knicks would suffer majorly unless they moved Mindaugas Kuzminskas to shooting guard, which may or may not play well.
Holiday has not shown signs of being a franchise player, however, and when one talks about Okafor, that’s exactly what New York would be trading for.
According to CSNNE.com, the consensus among league executives is that the Boston Celtics are Okafor’s most likely trade destination. The whole NBA world knows that the Boston Celtics, with all of their future picks, can afford Okafor.
This is partly why the Knicks should be involved in talks as of yesterday.
Remember when the Minnesota Timberwolves had no intention to trade Kevin Love? The Cleveland Cavaliers kept pushing until they eventually succeeded.
The Knicks front office should be doing the same thing for Okafor—and they need to start doing this right now.
With the lack of assets that the Knicks have, it’s the perfect time to convince the 76ers to trade Okafor. One of those reasons is the fact that Okafor’s game is only going to get better, which means that waiting for the trade deadline on February of 2016 would increase his value.
At that time, the 76ers would definitely like to get their money’s worth and that would take the Knicks out of the running to land the future All-Star.
Let’s not forget Okafor was never too enthused about playing for the 76ers.