Knicks have another reason to thank Blazers for legendary 2023 deadline trade

He's the heart of the Knicks.
New York Knicks, Portland Trail Blazers, Joe Cronin
New York Knicks, Portland Trail Blazers, Joe Cronin / Soobum Im/GettyImages

The New York Knicks made one trade before the 2023 deadline, but it will go down as one of the best in the organization's history. Jalen Brunson celebrated when he learned about the trade while, ironically, at Villanova for his jersey retirement. His former Wildcat teammate, Josh Hart, was going to the Big Apple.

It didn't take long for Hart to endear himself to Knicks fans. He averaged 10.2 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game on 51.9% shooting from three to close out the 2022-23 regular season. In 2023-24, the guard (who had no choice but to play forward) put together the best season of his career.

Hart became the heartbeat of the Knicks. As the injuries piled up, he recorded several 48-minute games, including in the postseason. Entering the season, he had zero triple-doubles throughout his career. Hart now has six.

When he was subbed out of Game 7, the Madison Square Garden crowd rose to their feet for a standing ovation.

Hart expressed how much it means to him to have found his home in New York after playing in Los Angeles, New Orleans, and Portland.

Blazers didn't open Josh Hart trade talks to the league in 2023

Although Knicks fans were pleasantly surprised about the 2023 trade, it was a move Hart asked for. ESPN's Zach Lowe reported that New York was Hart's preferred destination and that Portland didn't make it known that he'd be on the move (subscription required).

"Hart, like White, was 27 at the time of the trade. He instantly became a defining Knick. New York was confident it could re-sign Hart on a long-term deal; Hart had told Portland the Knicks were his preferred destination, and the Blazers worked to send Hart there -- never opening trade talks to the entire league, sources said."

Zach Lowe, ESPN

Unlike Damian Lillard (who was traded a few months later), the Blazers granted Hart's wish of being a Knick. Of course, much more was on the line for Portland regarding Lillard. Still, it's admirable that Portland did what Hart wanted and didn't let the league know that it was going to trade Hart.

If the world ended and New York listened to trade offers for Hart this offseason, the front office would be swarmed with calls. He's upped his value since he was a Blazer, but that doesn't mean opposing teams wouldn't have expressed their interest in Hart before Portland traded him. The Knicks didn't have to compete for Hart. Instead, they sent Cam Reddish, Ryan Arcidiacono, Svi Mykhailiuk, and a protected first-round pick to the Blazers. That's a trade New York would happily do over again (and again).

The four-year extension he signed last summer will kick in at the start of 2024-25. After the season he had in 2023-24, Hart deserves every cent!