The New York Knicks nearly had Kyle Lowry from the Toronto Raptors in a trade that was eventually nixed by ownership.
The New York Knicks have struggled to find a long-term point guard. As recently as 2018-19, they cycled through starters like Dennis Smith Jr., Trey Burke, Frank Ntilikina and Kadeem Allen. No one solidified themselves as the main player for the future or went elsewhere via trade, although Smith Jr. is contracted for 2019-20.
There was once an opportunity at someone to fill this position, spanning into even this past season. A player who is one step from winning the NBA Finals.
Of course, this trade never happened, and Lowry outstayed his friend, DeMar DeRozan, for the chance to finally play for a title.
Why, though? Owner James Dolan nixed the trade because of New York’s previous history with Raptors president Masai Ujiri. This was also made public at the time of the canceled transaction.
A Lowry trade may have actually worked in the Knicks’ favor, as the Villanova product developed into an All-Star point guard and is now a main contributor on a team that may win the championship by Monday.
That history, however, is nothing to applaud.
In 2013, the Knicks a 2016 first-round pick, two second-round picks and a package of players to the Raptors for Andrea Bargnani, who struggled mightily in two seasons. Injuries and poor play led to his demise, and the 2016 pick, Jakob Poeltl, developed into a quality NBA big for the Raptors and San Antonio Spurs.
Ujiri was also the leader on the Denver Nuggets’ side of the 2011 trade that sent Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks, which snagged most of their then-starting lineup and multiple first-round picks. All that, despite Anthony’s impending free agency and potential to sign with the Knicks in free agency, anyway.
Anthony became New York’s franchise player for six years, but they never crossed the second round with him, and his final four seasons were playoff-less, his fault or not.
If the Knicks went through with the Lowry trade, they could have installed a player at point guard for the ensuing years. This eliminates the need to draft Frank Ntilikina in 2017 and trade for a hampered Derrick Rose.
Kevin Knox became the 2018 first-round pick. The Knicks might not land as high as ninth overall with Lowry, but if it was the case, this trade would remain in “wait-and-see” mode.
Now, Lowry is potentially part of a team that will bring Toronto its first NBA Championship. The New York Knicks remain in need of a point guard. Maybe they should have followed through with that Ujiri trade after all.