Should Knicks consider low-risk trade for former Duke forward?

The Knicks have been linked to a young Hawks forward.
New York Knicks, Tom Thibodeau
New York Knicks, Tom Thibodeau / Todd Kirkland/GettyImages

The New York Knicks recently traded a former Duke forward in RJ Barrett, and could add another one before the deadline. There have been endless trade rumors swirling around the Knicks, with the latest being that they're one of the teams who have expressed interest in a Hawks forward who has fallen out of the rotation.

Atlanta drafted AJ Griffin with the No. 16 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. He averaged 8.9 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 1.0 assists per game as a rookie, shooting 46.5% from the field and 39% from three in 72 games (16 starts).

He went from averaging 19.5 minutes per game to 8.1 this season across 16 games. Griffin's numbers have dipped significantly, as he's averaging only 2.3 points and 0.8 rebounds per game.

Part of the reason for Griffin's low playing time is that in December, he stepped away from the team for a few weeks for personal reasons.

He hasn't been able to claw his way back into the rotation. Since the start of 2024, he's played in a combined 19 minutes spread across four contests.

There's speculation that the Knicks are interested in trading for AJ Griffin

On Sunday, Action Network's Matt Moore reported that New York is one of the teams interested in trading for Griffin.

"The Knicks, Rockets, Bulls, and Mavericks are teams believed to be interested in buying low on second-year man AJ Griffin who has fallen out of the rotation."

Matt Moore, Action Network

The 20-year-old will make $3.7 million this season and has a club-exercised option of $3.9 million for 2024-25. He isn't set to enter restricted free agency until 2026.

The Knicks are one of the teams linked to Dejounte Murray, so there's always the chance that New York could try to acquire Griffin with the All-Star guard. Or, the Knicks could be looped in as the third team in a Murray trade, which would send Griffin to New York.

Griffin is a six-foot-six athletic forward with a seven-foot wingspan. His defense stood out as a rookie, as he can use his size and strength to his advantage. As Griffin's numbers from last season show, he's a good shooter and could even help space the floor for the Knicks.

If New York wanted to go after Griffin without pursuing Murray, it would be a low-risk, high-reward move. The forward's potential is there. It's hard to hold the 16 games he's played this season against him, especially because he spent time away from the team. It's hard to jump back in midseason.

A trade to the Knicks would be a bonus for Griffin, who grew up in upstate New York. Before the 2022 draft, he said that playing for the Knicks "would be a dream come true."

If New York were to trade for him, he could turn into a valuable young player the front office could throw into a trade for a star (especially if they lose Quentin Grimes). Griffin certainly isn't one of the Knicks' priorities ahead of the deadline, but if they don't get Bruce Brown, he's worthy of consideration.