The Knicks likely aren’t going anywhere in 2022 with the roster they currently have, which was evident on Saturday night in an overtime loss to the Los Angeles Lakers that included the blowing of a 21-point first-half lead.
They’re now five games under .500 (24-29) and have lost eight of their last 10 games to sink to 12 in the Eastern Conference — even though that is only 1.5 games back of the 10th and final play-in seed in the NBA’s expanded postseason format.
Regardless, it’s a sizable fall from last season’s Cinderella story that saw them go 41-31 and nab the No. 4 seed in the East, coinciding with the rise of Julius Randle to All-Star.
Randle has been a shell of his former self this season, which has been too much for the Knicks to overcome despite the continued evolution of RJ Barrett as the impending face of the franchise.
That’s, of course, if he makes it to the end of the season with the team.
What assets can the Knicks part with?
The Knicks and president Leon Rose apparently have everything and everyone on the table ahead of the NBA’s Feb. 10 trade deadline, making the realization that they need a drastic roster overhaul to create a contender.
That includes Barrett but more likely, Randle, after he has spent spells this year struggling with his offensive confidence and his demeanor around the team and fans.
Barrett and Randle headline the Knicks’ current player pool in terms of star power.
Despite Randle’s regression this year — he’s averaging six points fewer per game in 2021-22 at 18.7 — he’s still a high-upside forward in terms of scoring that is under team control through the 2024-25 season. A team in need of production from the 4 spot will have an obvious interest.
The only way Barrett will be included in a deal is if the Knicks are getting back a superstar. At 21 years old, the Duke product is averaging a career-best 17.9 points per game this season and is only getting better as the season progresses. He’s posting 23.3 points per contest over his last 13 games, including a career-high 36 in Saturday’s loss to the Lakers.
In terms of players who are more likely to be traded, though, the Knicks have veteran players on team-friendly deals who should be easier to move — whether that be Kemba Walker, Evan Fournier, or Alec Burks.
They also have an abundance of draft capital that will only help their standing on the market. They own all of their picks along with the Dallas Mavericks’ top-10 protected selection next year.
What do the Knicks need?
The same thing they’ve needed for decades: A legitimate point guard that can command the rock the floor and score. The hope was that Walker could fill the role on a limited basis over the summer, but it hasn’t worked out.
They certainly have the depth at the position. Immanuel Quickley is a promising combo guard but still has some developing left to do, but Derrick Rose’s veteran presence is providing invaluable mentorship. Miles McBride is also suggesting he can become a serviceable bench option in the future.
But the Knicks need a dynamic playmaker that is going to open up the floor for the likes of Barrett and Randle rather than the current unsuccessful formula of trying to make the two of them create 100% of their offensive opportunities — something Barrett is handling better than Randle.
De’Aaron Fox of the Sacramento Kings could be available for the right price (like a package headlined by Randle). He’s more of a scoring point guard with an average of 21.3 points per game.
Jalen Brunson of the Dallas Mavericks is more of a distributor amidst a career year. He’s posting career bests of 15.9 points and 5.5 assists in 31.8 minutes per game.