New York Knicks mailbag: Who could move at 2020 NBA trade deadline?

New York Knicks (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
New York Knicks (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The first edition of the Daily Knicks Mailbag is here. What questions did you ask about the New York Knicks?

Welcome to the first edition of the Daily Knicks Mailbag. Twitter users submitted questions over the past 48 hours, for answers on the New York Knicks’ 2019-20 season and to discuss how everything has progressed through 14 games.

A playmaking point guard fits best next to RJ Barrett, who can create with the basketball himself. Coach David Fizdale already experimented with the 2019 No. 3 overall pick as the starting ballhandler, but it failed within minutes on opening night.

LaMelo Ball is the first name to come to mind. He has only shot 35.5 percent in Australia’s National Basketball League, but 6.0 assists to just 2.2 turnovers stand out, especially for handling the ball at 6-foot-7. It provides the Knicks a tall backcourt and mismatches for the opponent.

Arizona’s Nico Mannion is an undersized combo guard with poor measurables, but he already has nine-assist game and 18 total in his first four collegiate appearances. Cole Anthony is small, too, but the more apt scorer.

I don’t think DeMar DeRozan is the star New York needs. The modern-day NBA game goes beyond the arc, and this is one of the few guards whose game remains two-point heavy. Plus, he is already 30 years old and when that game from inside the arc starts to wane in a few years, his on-court value will diminish rapidly.

The Knicks also potentially need to extend DeRozan on a max contract, taking him through his age-34 season for over $30 million per year.

At the same time, signing stars has proven more difficult than the Knicks expected. Trading for one might be the route down the line, although DeRozan is not the ideal one.

If a deal happens, though, acquiring the USC product probably means surrendering a protected first-round pick or Dallas’ 2021 selection, which could fall outside the lottery with how well Luka Doncic has played. Matching salaries must happen, too, with Bobby Portis‘ $15 million and Elfrid Payton‘s $8 million going the other way along with a seldom-used player like Allonzo Trier.

This is without hesitation: Marcus Morris.

While his efficiency has dropped, Morris is shooting 45.5 percent on three-pointers and averaging a career-high 18.6 points per game. $15 million is high for another team to take, but someone could see this and the value he provided for those Boston Celtics teams of the previous two years.

Outside of him, Julius Randle isn’t going anywhere; Taj Gibson is a potential buyout candidate for a contender; Bobby Portis has not played up to his $15 million salary; and Elfrid Payton, Wayne Ellington and Reggie Bullock have no value.

It could in stretches, as Damyean Dotson can space and open up the floor for Barett. They actually have not played together yet, per Basketball-Reference, so there is no sample size to base off.

No, unless at least two of Barrett, Dotson, Morris and Kevin Knox are injured or trades happen. Fizdale is also fighting for job security, so I can’t see him turning to a second-round pick on a crowded roster of veterans and more prioritized young pieces.

For this season they should ride it out. I have a feeling 2020 remains the same since both are under contract and the trade market could be dry. The upcoming draft has guards, each of which possesses significant flaws for transitioning to the NBA game.

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Ntilikina and Smith Jr. are also still 21 years old, respectively. The former, especially, deserves the patience, which has paid off in 2019-20 so far. Giving up on them too soon can be costly, but if the New York Knicks feel they are not the guys at point guard, a change may be ahead.