Even with the Knicks no longer in the postseason, they remain firmly fixed in NBA discussions.
The NBA Draft Combine is currently taking place in Chicago and, much like MLB’s Winter Meetings, the event is a central offseason even where coaches and general managers are in the same location. Inevitably, this leads to informal discussions about players and trades that frequently fuel rumors.
However, as former Brooklyn Nets and current ESPN NBA Front Office Insider Bobby Marks said in his recent appearance on Knicks Fan TV, “This is kind of where everything starts. This is where the traction comes from.”
Marks’ appearance on the show was highlighted by his discussion of how the new NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) could impact activity this offseason.
“I expect a lot of activity [this offseason],” Marks said. “It’s gonna be a lot harder for teams to make trades next offseason.”
With the New York Knicks arriving as a playoff team and hoping to take the next step to being a title contender, most fans and the organization itself, seem to understand that a well-timed move could be what helps get them over the hump. If Marks is to be believed, that move could actually come this summer.
“The New York Knicks are in a prime position,” he explained. “[They] are sitting in a perfect spot. They have all the draft picks. They have controllable contracts. They have young players here. You kinda check all the boxes.”
So the big question for Marks is not if the Knicks can make a move, it’s whether or not they want to give up some of their current financial flexibility in order to make add a “disgruntled All-Star” looking for a new home.
“How much are you willing to push in to still have that flexibility?” he said. “The days of having three players on max contracts are over…With [Jalen] Brunson, [RJ] Barrett, and [Julius] Randle, you have three guys making less than $28 million. You kinda have a lot of those sweet-spot contracts, so, for me, it’s a matter of how much restraint do you have?”
If the Knicks’ front office does have restraint, they could re-sign Josh Hart, try to extend Immanuel Quickley, and focus on keeping their young core together. They could trade some of their surplus picks to land another rotation player or possibly move up higher in the 2024 NBA Draft to add more young talent to the roster.
If the Knicks’ front office doesn’t have restraint, they could look to make a big swing this summer.
“The Wizards don’t have a GM as we speak,” Marks said. “I would say, if you wanna move Bradley Beal, this is your window to do it… That’s certainly a name, but it’s a big number. Three years, $200 million left on his contract.”
Adding Beal would likely cost the Knicks most of their future first-round picks as well as a young asset like Quickley, Quentin Grimes, or Obi Toppin. Beal would likely slot into Grimes’ spot in the starting lineup, but, as Marks mentioned, the Knicks would need to find a way to make the salaries work.
Could that mean moving RJ Barrett to Washington? Would the Knicks want to do that with the way Barrett improved during the postseason?
How much is this version of Bradley Beal even an upgrade?
He will be 30 years old next season on a team made up of primarily players who are 25 years old and under. The Knicks are desperate for floor-spacing, but Beal has not shot better than 37% from beyond the arc since 2017. This season, Grimes shot 38.6% from deep and is a career 38.4% shooter while also playing solid defense at the shooting guard spot.
Another name that has come up a lot is Chicago Bulls guard DeMar DeRozan.
Knicks writer Ian Begley also appeared on Knicks Fan TV earlier this week and mentioned that “There are some strong ties here between some people in the organization and DeRozan. He was seriously considering the Knicks last time he was free…I wouldn’t rule out the idea that, if he has a say in it, if he wants to leave Chicago, I think that he would consider New York.”
DeRozan will be 34 years old next season but will be in the final year of a contract that will pay him $28.6 million next season, so the contract is more manageable than Beal’s. It also means it would likely require less to trade for DeRozan.
However, the shooting guard is a career 29% three-point shooter and has shot better than 33% from deep just once in his career. If the Knicks brought him in but kept Randle and Barrett, floor spacing would continue to be an issue.
Perhaps the restraint the Knicks need to show is to not give up too many assets for an aging star who doesn’t fit the current needs of the team. Obviously, any potential trade will come down to what the Knicks have to give up, but the team shouldn’t feel pressure to make a big move just to make a big move.
“There’s always somebody out there,” Marks said.
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