It is a foregone conclusion that the New York Knicks are going to be active leading up to the NBA’s Feb. 6 trade deadline. What remains to be seen, however, is what avenue president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry are going to take.
The two front-office members sit on thin ice as the Knicks continue to remain one of the NBA’s most laughable minnows. After the firing of David Fizdale in December, Mills and Perry appear to be in owner James Dolan’s crosshairs next.
The Knicks finally seemed to have a clear plan in place after whiffing on Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, and Kyrie Irving in free agency over the summer. With a litany of young talents in place, New York has the assets to build a contender through the draft.
Over the last three years alone, the Knicks have drafted Frank Ntilikina, Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, and RJ Barrett to expand their limited talent pool.
This year’s trade deadline would allow the Knicks to continue stockpiling young talent if they decided to part ways with veterans such as Marcus Morris — who could fetch a first-round draft pick during a career year.
The Knicks have their first-rounder in 2020 and two more in 2021 thanks to the Kristaps Porzingis trade. Considering the organization has won just 11 games this season, it’s a safe assumption that two of those three first-round picks will be lottery selections. That will only add more youthful promise to a team that already has a good amount of it.
However, Mills and Perry’s desperation to keep their jobs could see the Knicks abandon those plans.
Multiple reports on Friday revealed that the Knicks are in talks with the Detroit Pistons for star center Andre Drummond, who would call for a hefty price on the trade market — including some of those high-end draft picks.
Drummond is one of the more dominant big men in the game, averaging a double-double in each of the past seven years while leading the NBA in rebounding for four of the last five seasons.
At 26 years old, he’s entering his prime, which would give Mills and Perry the immediate star power they need to improve the Knicks to at least a mediocre level.
The issue with that, however, is that a trade for Drummond would abandon the plan of developing Robinson, who looks as though he can turn into one of the premier centers in the game, too.
At just 21 years old — while averaging a slim 22.7 minutes per game — Robinson was posting 10.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks in his second NBA season entering Sunday night’s game against the Heat. He also led the NBA with a field-goal percentage of 71.4.
Acquiring Drummond could also have major ramifications for the Knicks’ wallet.
He has an opt-out clause in his contract this summer that would see him hit free agency, which is a place the Knicks have not had good luck.
The last team he plays for before free agency, or the team that owns his Bird Rights, can offer him approximately $190 million over five years while the rest of the league can only offer him as much as $140 million.
Regardless of the $50 million difference, that’s a lot of money for the Knicks to sink into a center when they already have a promising one in their ranks and have vital needs elsewhere on the depth chart.