Approaching the 2018 NBA trade deadline, the New York Knicks have their fans questioning where they are going with this season.
The New York Knicks started the season out with an impressive 17-14 record. After Tuesday’s loss to the Golden State Warriors and Thursday’s loss to the Denver Nuggets, however, they currently hold a 21-28 record.
Now, it’s either rebuild or playoffs for this young team. With the Feb. 8 trade deadline coming up, talks have been heating up about certain players going to or leaving New York.
If the Knicks want to try and trade for an All-Star, they might have to give away players to free up cap space, especially those with bad contracts. Centers Enes Kanter, Kyle O’Quinn, and Willy Hernangomez have been gaining attention.
Teams are looking at guard Courtney Lee and forward Lance Thomas, as well.
With teams having interest in some of New York’s players, who might be the first to go?
The Knicks might be hesitant to let go some of their main contributors. Enes Kanter, the 25-year-old center acquired in the Carmelo Anthony trade, has been playing with a chip on his shoulder since being traded.
Averaging a double-double per game, Kanter has been a key player in the Knicks’ surprising success. O’Quinn, Hernangomez, and Thomas will be slightly easier to bargain for because of their efficient roles off the bench.
However, a player New York is reluctant to move is Courtney Lee, who’s having a career-year. Not only is he leading the league in free throw percentage, he’s been scoring more overall.
Furthermore, Lee’s shooting percentages are some of the highest of his career (for two-pointers and shots beyond the arc).
"Trading Lee — and the $25 million he is owed over the next two seasons — could open up cap space for New York in the coming summers. But the 32-year-old has been instrumental in getting the Knicks to a larger win total than expected at this point, and he has been a strong voice in a young locker room."
There is the pathway of rebuilding, too. With the team being controlled by new President of Basketball Operations Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry, they could be shopping a vast majority of the franchise’s roster.
Although there have been talks, a rebuild is highly unlikely. The young core of Hardaway Jr, newly selected All-Star Kristaps Porzingis, and Enes Kanter have been electric.
Plus, with the help of Michael Beasley and Courtney Lee, this Knicks squad is young, but at the same time experienced.
If rebuilding is not in the future, who could be dealt to The Big Apple?
There is, of course, another option: Trading for Kemba Walker. The All-Star point guard has been recently placed on the trading block, with Charlotte allowing teams to make offers.
The Knicks should be pursuing Walker, especially since the Hornets want to discuss a potential trade. If Walker were acquired, a playoff push would be made known in New York.
With lackluster play from Jarrett Jack and the raw game of Frank Ntilkina, point guard has been the Achilles’ heel for the starting lineup. As for Trey Burke, having just been called up, head coach Jeff Hornacek hasn’t yet given him time to prove himself.
A Walker deal would fill the void at the point guard position from day one.
Otherwise, if only a small trade were to happen (most likely for cap space), the Knicks might as well be taking the safer route. The “safe” route will most likely include either trading up or keeping the 2018 first-round draft pick.
Making an offseason signing, such as Tim Hardaway Jr. last year, will also be probable in said plan.
With the situation the Knicks are in right now, it’s a mystery which path they’ll decide to follow. Will they clean house and hope to get a lottery pick? Or will they try to go after a much-needed point guard and make a playoff push?
Per usual, the New York Knicks are keeping us guessing.