The Knicks finished the season with a disappointing 37–45 record and missed the playoffs for the 9th year in 10 seasons — and now, there is widespread speculation that the team could be a major player in the offseason trade market.
Knicks President Leon Rose has done an uncharacteristically good job for the Knicks in collecting young talent and preserving future draft assets in recent years, which has led to the front office having a large arsonal to unload in the pursuit of a franchise player.
The core of Knicks youngsters — consisting of RJ Barrett (21), Immanuel Quickley (22), Obi Toppin (24), and Cam Reddish (22) — remains intact, and the team will have their first-round draft selection in the June NBA Draft.
While some fans may wish to see the team run it back with their youthful roster, the team may be too tempted by some marquee trade targets, along with the prospect of bringing a perennial All Star to Madison Square Garden.
Looking forward, here are some big names that Knicks fans can expect to hear in any potential deals:
De’Aaron Fox, PG
The uberly-athletic Sacramento Kings guard has long been linked to the Knicks, with NBA insiders speculating that he could serve as the centerpiece of a trade involving New York veteran Julius Randle.
Randle has been the heart-and-soul of the team since his breakout year last season, but struggled to repeat that success this year, with statistical declines in nearly every major category. He is signed with the team through the 2026 season, with a player-option in his final year, while making around $30 million each season — marking a tough pill to swallow for the future-driven Knicks.
Fox has a similar contract situation, and plays for a team looking to preserve their future as well, but the 6’3” guard is 3 years younger than Randle at just 24, and, perhaps most importantly, does not play the same position as Toppin.
When Randle was shut down for the season with injury with 5 games to go, Toppin stepped up and showed flashes of what he could become in the NBA if he was given the playing time — including a career-high 42 points in the team’s season finale.
If the front office wants to give Toppin, a former #8-overall draft selection, a proper opportunity to play, while getting a solid asset back for Randle, they will revisit this much-talked-about trade.
Donovan Mitchell, SG
The Utah Jazz shooting guard would seemingly fit perfectly with the Knicks roster as currently constructed, but acquiring him would take quite a chuck out of the arsenal of assets that Rose has accumulated.
There have been reports that the 25-year-old phenom is looking towards the exit in Utah, both to increase his chances of winning a title, as well as upping his public persona that suffers from playing in Salt Lake.
If the Knicks were willing to part with some of their young players and future picks, Mitchell would bring a reliable 23.9 career average points-per-game, along with 4.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists to go along with his stellar defense.
Zion Williamson, PF
This is perhaps wishful thinking on the part of fans, but, for years, the Knicks have been linked to Williamson — a child prodigy who was relegated to NBA mediocrity on the constantly-rebuilding New Orleans Pelicans.
The Duke product has dealt with major injuries since joining the league, but he has still shown flashes of the potential that made him a #1 overall draft pick in 2019. At 6′6″ and a listed 246 pounds, Williamson has the potential to be a force-to-be-reckoned-with in the paint, with All Star levels of dunking and transition ability.
The two major problems facing the possibility of this trade happening is the enormous set of assets the Pelicans would want in return for Williamson, and his status under contract.
The power forward will be paid by New Orleans next season, before hitting restricted free agency after that — which will allow the Pelicans front office to keep him for at least 1 more year on a qualifying offer, if they chose. Most players of Williamson’s caliber sign an extension when their rookie deal expires, but Williamson has given little indication that he will continue that trend.
Even if he does, the player-empowerment era of the NBA has seen countless superstars demand trades while in the midst of their current deals — including the notable example of Jaames Harden, who successfully forced his way out of Huston to get to Brooklyn with nearly 3 years remaining on his deal, and then again to Philadelphia earlier this season.
So the Knicks front office would be wise to continue courting Williamson, and fans should be prepared to part ways with several young assets (possibly including Barrett) to get it done.