New York Knicks: Caris LeVert as a trade target works on several levels

Caris LeVert, New York Knicks. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Caris LeVert, New York Knicks. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

Fans of the New York Knicks experienced a 2021 holiday season that was a bit less joy-filled, particularly compared to 2020. A new ago today, the Knicks had just begun a COVID-delayed regular season that would see the franchise soar to heights that even the most optimistic New York fan would have been surprised by.

You know the story. The club burst onto the scene with a 41-31 record, a top-four seed in the playoffs, and home-court advantage in the Eastern Conference field. Fans had high hopes that the Knicks would build upon that success and jettison even further into NBA supremacy.

So far, the results have been… disappointing. Currently, the squad is hovering around the .500 mark and is flirting with a spot in the playoffs play-in tournament.

A 24th ranked offense proves that offseason acquisitions Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier have not provided enough boost to an already suspect offense.

New York Knicks: Trade Deadline Hope

However, all is not lost! There are reasons for Knicks’ fans to remain hopeful their team can recapture their 2020 momentum.

The NBA’s annual trade deadline may be the perfect chance for New York to take a second crack at bolstering their offense. Ideally, trading for a go-to scoring guard would be a great place to start.

As things currently stand, one such veteran is reportedly being placed on the trade block: Pacers’ SG Caris LeVert.

LeVert’s Fit

On paper, LeVert appears to be an ideal fit for the Knicks. While he may not hold the All-Star pedigree as other All-Star caliber options, his savvy scoring skills would provide aid at New York’s biggest on-court area of need.

The Pacers guard has posted per-game averages of 20+ points per game twice over the past few seasons. Currently, he has added 17.4 points and 3.9 assists on 43% shooting. He is also a 33% career three-point shooter. While he lacks elite size or speed, his craft and shifty game allow him to score well.

Consider this bucket against a larger defender. There’s no ankle-breaking cross-over or massive speed burst. Just a savvy blowby that LeVert utilizes often.

And speaking of mid-range iso scoring, how about this clip as an example of his skills in that area. LeVert is patient. He drives to the basket well. Is patient in finding a good shot. And finishes with good footwork with a post-up fade away.

Again, this is an isolated clip of a single shot. But it demonstrates the type of game that LeVert brings on a nightly basis.

LeVert has the ability to space the floor with his shooting, while also adding an above-average mid-range game. This gives him the profile of a reliable go-to scorer late in games. As things currently stand, only Derrick Rose and Julius Randle are reliable options in this setting. It was ultimately the team’s undoing during their playoff series loss to the Atlanta Hawks. LeVert provides a much-needed additional option.

New York Knicks: The Franchise Fit

In addition to LeVert’s on-court fit, he has also proven he can excel in New York City. The former 20th overall draft pick (2016) made a name for himself during his time with the crosstown Brooklyn Nets.

Not all players profile well in a market as big as NYC. However, the Knicks should have no concerns that LeVert could navigate the spotlight and extra pressure of the biggest basketball market in the US.

Blockbuster Potential

Perhaps the most appealing aspect of a deal of Caris LeVert is the potential for the deal to develop into a multi-player blockbuster. Defensive anchor Myles Turner has long been rumored to be on Indiana’s trade block. Multiple reports also indicate that the Pacers may be considering a total rebuild by parting ways with All-Star Domantas Sabonis.

You can find Daily Knicks coverage of these reports here.

While LeVert alone would be a sensible trade target that could add a new dynamic to the Knicks’ offense, imagine if Scott Perry and Leon Rose raised the stakes by building a deal centered around multiple Pacers’ stars.

While the price tag would assuredly go up exponentially, this type of star infusion could be exactly what the Knicks need to reemerge as Eastern Conference contenders. In fact, they would be clear favorites to win their first postseason series since 2013.

What do you think about the potential of trading for Caris LeVert (and possibly more)? 

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