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Knicks do Lakers a favor; acquire, waive Denzel Valentine after 3-team swap

Denzel Valentine Knicks
Denzel Valentine
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Valentine’s Day came and went six weeks early for the Knicks.

New York did the Los Angeles Lakers a solid on Monday, acquiring fifth-year swingman Denzel Valentine as a part of a three-team deal that was headlined by Rajon Rondo heading over to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Knicks promptly proceeded to waive Valentine just hours later, granting him free agency. 

While the Lakers were able to open a roster spot, the Knicks also received $1.1 million and the draft rights of Wang Zhelin and Brad Newley while they sent 2014 second-round pick Louis Labeyrie’s rights back to Los Angeles. All three international prospects are not expected to ever see the NBA. 

There was a chance that Valentine could stick around, though immediate speculation indicated that he wouldn’t be staying with the Knicks for the long haul, according to SNY’s Ian Begley

Valentine was the 14th overall pick of the 2016 draft by the Chicago Bulls where he averaged 7.4 points in 19.8 minutes per game. The 28-year-old signed on with the Cleveland Cavaliers ahead of the 2021-22 season where he posted just 2.9 points in 9.3 minutes over 22 games. 

The one appealing thing about Valentine’s game was that he is a career 39.3% shooter from three-point range — an aspect that the Knicks have struggled to find regular consistency with throughout the roster. 

But the need for a true point guard outweighed any sort of need for Valentine, which is why former Villanova standout Ryan Archidiacono is seen as the favorite to stick around with the Knicks for the time being. 

The 27-year-old is with New York on a 10-day contract, which was made official on Monday, after averaging 12.7 points, eight assists, and 5.7 rebounds over six games with the Boston Celtics’ G League affiliate this season.

He could be an emergency stop-gap for a Knicks team that will likely be without Derrick Rose until the end of February after he underwent ankle surgery and Kemba Walker, who aggravated his surgically-repaired left knee during practice on Friday. There is no timetable for his return, which added more adversity to a season in which he regained his spot in the lineup after being taken completely out of the rotation by head coach Tom Thibodeau for nine games. 

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