Knicks could be in running for 2023 wannabe playoff villain ahead of trade deadline

It turns out there is one way he could stop Jalen Brunson!
New York Knicks, Tom Thibodeau
New York Knicks, Tom Thibodeau / Mike Stobe/GettyImages

Against all odds (AKA the media), the New York Knicks cruised past the Cavaliers in five games in the first round of the 2023 playoffs. Jalen Brunson outplayed Donovan Mitchell, and Mitchell Robinson dominated Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen. It marked the Knicks' first series win in a decade.

Even though Isaac Okoro thought he could contain the point guard, Brunson couldn't be stopped. The Cavaliers wing said he would talk to the refs about Brunson's "antics" leading up to Game 2. It should be noted that in Game 1, Brunson took only four free throws. Simply put, Okoro didn't have much of an answer for Brunson.

Rather than worry about possibly having to face Brunson in the postseason again, Okoro could be in New York in time for the 2024 playoffs.

On Monday, HoopsHype's Michael Scotto reported that Okoro is a player to monitor leading up to the deadline. The 23-year-old will be a restricted free agent this summer and has a $11.8 million qualifying offer.

"In order to retain Okoro and keep the rest of their roster intact, the Cavaliers now have to consider their appetite for going into the tax for the 2024-25 season amid uncertainty surrounding Mitchell’s long-term future in Cleveland."

Michael Scotto, HoopsHype

Scotto added that New York, Atlanta, Indiana, Phoenix, and Milwaukee are expected to be interested in Okoro.

Knicks linked to Isaac Okoro leading up to 2024 trade deadline

Okoro is a solid defender (not against Brunson), but to call him a two-way wing is a bit of a stretch. His three-point shooting has improved slightly this season (from 36.3% to 37.2%), but not enough for New York to be seriously interested in trading for him.

The Knicks' main priority needs to be adding another ball handler and scorer off the bench. Okoro would boost the team's defense, but that's about it.

Scotto added that one GM believes Okoro could get $14 million annually as a free agent. Like Cleveland, New York needs to be wary about finances. Quentin Grimes will be eligible to sign an extension this offseason, although the Knicks could trade him, and let's not forget about Brunson and Randle's futures.

Okoro wouldn't move the needle enough for the Knicks, especially if it would mean losing a player like Grimes. If Cleveland is open to trading Okoro, hopefully, New York won't pick up the phone.