This article has just as much to do with the NY Knicks needing to shake things as it does with Portland needing to blow their team up and tank.
Both the Knicks and Blazers are struggling this season, with New York sporting a record of 18-20 on the season while Portland isn’t exactly ‘sittin’ pretty’ either with a pathetic record of 14-22.
The main difference here being that the Knicks have only been on this path toward postseason glory for about a year now while the Trailblazers have been at this for years upon years and for whatever reason, they just can’t figure themselves out.
It could be argued that Damian Lillard is a Top 10 player in the league today, and that’s the caliber of player it’ll take for Julius Randle to settle into the #2 role he’s best suited for.
As much as I dislike ‘ISO-Ball’, therefore am not the biggest fan of Julius Randle’s game, when he’s playing like a top 25 player in the league, good things happen for my Knicks.
Should the NY Knicks trade for Damian Lillard?
But as evidenced by this season so far, when he’s not able to keep up the level of play from the 2020-21 campaign, the Knicks don’t have the complementary pieces available to keep up with most other teams in the league.
As we know, I’m no stranger to making hypothetical Dame deals but I don’t think I’ve ever meant it more than I do right now.
When Obi Toppin was drafted, it seemed like it was the beginning of the end of Julius Randle’s tenure on the Knicks and that his replacement was drafted, therefore he would be sent off to the highest bidder.
Randle seemingly turned around his entire career right before our eyes last year, so the front office was tasked with an incredibly difficult decision to make.
They had to either stick to the plan of rebuilding with youngsters and trading off the older guys like Randle, Burks, and Noel OR they’d have to pivot and make adjustments.
When the team decided to give big paydays to some of the veterans from last season’s miraculous team while also bringing in pieces such as Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier, the final nail was in the coffin of a traditional rebuild.
And we as fans can’t really blame them for doing so.
But since it’s clear that today’s team can’t at least remain competitive in the East, they have to go ‘All In’.
They have to find an identity and remain focused on one goal.
While I’m personally all for them ditching guys like Walker, Randle, and Fournier and going with a youth movement myself, it would be much more difficult for them to do at this point than consolidating some assets in a trade for a Superstar.
Yeah, losing some of these young guys hurts me too, but the Knicks cannot properly rebuild with these young cats while giving all of the meaningful playing time to the veterans on the team.
They need to make a choice.
I’m not saying this trade has to go down during the current season but if not now, then this offseason…something like this has to happen.
The Knicks are in the worst position a franchise can be in, in that they’re bad but not bad enough to be one of the worst teams in the league.
They’re also just not good enough to compete with the best 8 teams in the Eastern Conference with the way that the roster is currently constructed.
The longer this team stays in the middle, the longer it’ll take for us fans to witness them win a title.
In conclusion, are the Knicks giving up a lot in my hypothetical trade? Yes.
But this is what a realistic trade for a Superstar costs in this day and age, the Knicks aren’t going to get a Mega Star like Dame for ‘Kevin Knox and stuff’.
Losing young guys like Obi and RJ stings, but when the front office decided to pay Nerlens, Burks, Randle, and Derrick Rose…a trade like this was their end goal.
Also, don’t pay so much attention to what the Knicks are giving up and focus more on what they have left once the dust settles.
They could sport a lineup that looks like this:
Starters – Damian Lillard, Immanuel Quickley, Alec Burks, Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson
Bench – Derrick Rose, Quentin Grimes, Taj Gibson, Nerlens Noel, Deuce McBride, Jericho Sims
Clearly, the Knicks would still have cap flexibility to make other moves as well as plenty of picks for the future.
I want the Knicks to be good and I want it to happen fast. This is one of the best routes they can take under the current circumstances.