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Knicks Trade Deadline Discussion, Part One: Who could be traded at the 2023 trade deadline?

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Immanuel Quickley New York Knicks
New York Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley (5) fouls Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

The NBA trade deadline is a little over a month away and while many came into the season believing that the Knicks would be in a position to build for the future, a 9-6 stretch in December may have New York looking to be buyers at the deadline. 

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As of Tuesday, January 3rd, the Knicks are 20-18 and tied for the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference. They are 6.5 games out of first but just one game out of 6th place, which would mean they avoid the play-in games in the postseason.  

Julius Randle has gone from a contract albatross who likely needed to be dealt in order for the Knicks to build a contender to a likely All-Star, averaging 24.2 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game on 46.7% shooting. With Jalen Brunson emerging as an off-season bargain on his new contract and RJ Barrett starting to find his shooting stroke in December, hitting 42.4% from beyond the arc, the idea that the Knicks would trade off assets to build for the future seems highly unlikely. 

However, the roster, as currently constructed, is also not a championship contender. 

So how can New York make sensible moves at the deadline to maneuver itself out of the limbo of being a playoff team that’s not quite championship ready?

The easiest answer seems to be to hold onto the majority of their upcoming draft picks, avoiding taking a big swing at the trade deadline, and simply focusing on bolstering the bench. This strategy would best position the Knicks to make some noise in the playoffs this year while keeping assets intact to build a long-term contender around a young core of Brunson, Barrett, Quentin Grimes, Obi Toppin, Immanuel Quickley, and others. 

So what exactly would this strategy look like, what does it mean for players currently on the Knicks, and who might be possible targets? Today we’re going to focus part one on which Knicks could be traded to fulfill this strategy. 

Part One: Which Knicks Might be Traded?

 

Current New York End-of-Bench Players

Svi Mykhaliuk, Ryan Arcidiacono, Cam Reddish, Evan Fournier, Derrick Rose

The two guys who currently sit at the end of the bench, Svi Mykhaliuk and Ryan Arcidiacono are candidates to be cut before their contracts become guaranteed on January 10th. However, considering Arcidiacono is Brunson’s college teammate and played for Tom Thibodeau in the past, he seems likely to stay. Mykhaliuk, on the other hand, could be cut to open up a roster spot to help facilitate a trade. 

Evan Fournier and Derrick Rose have both had their names come up in trade conversations and are both easy to see being dealt if the right trade comes along. Rose has been on the fringe of the rotation and is a strong veteran presence, but is now firmly behind Brunson, Quickley, and McBride at the point guard spot. Fournier was completely out of the rotation until the RJ Barrett injury and has not exactly played his way back into minutes. 

Cam Reddish seems all but sure to be dealt before the trade deadline. He hasn’t played any minutes in almost a month, including blowouts where the entire bench gets into the game. It’s possible that he’s that firmly entrenched in the doghouse, but it seems more likely that the Knicks don’t want to risk an injury before they are able to trade him away. 

 

Current New York Bench Rotation Players

Immanuel Quickley, Miles McBride, Isaiah Hartenstein, Jericho Sims, Obi Toppin

Miles McBride and Jericho Sims seem like locks to remain with the Knicks right now. Their contracts are minimal and their bench roles are valuable for the Knicks. Both are solid defenders with intriguing offensive upside, so the Knicks seem likely to see how they can develop. 

Immanuel Quickley’s name has come up in tons of trade rumors. However, he has taken on a bigger role in December, averaging 30 minutes a game, with 15.1 points, 3.7 assists, and 3.3 rebounds. Quickley has become such a key for New York off the bench that it would seem unlikely he’s traded this season unless the Knicks take a big swing and add a key rotation piece in return. 

Obi Toppin is an interesting case for a couple of reasons. For one, since he’s currently injured, there is no real market for him and it’s unclear if any team would be willing to make a move until they can see him on the court. It’s also unclear what his role is on this Knicks team since he got hurt before they shrunk the rotation and went on their eight-game winning streak. 

The presence of Julius Randle has always been a thorn in the side of Toppin’s minutes since the two aren’t a great fit on the court together. With Randle playing the way he is, it seems unlikely that he’s going to be dealt, which means Toppin may not see the minutes bump fans want. If that were the case, it would make sense to explore the trade market for a young and improving forward. However, that now seems more likely to happen in the offseason. 

I’ve been vocal that I don’t think Isaiah Hartenstein is a fit on this New York team. He’s a poor rebounder as a center and is more comfortable on the perimeter, which doesn’t suit the second unit that he plays most of his minutes with. It makes sense for the team to deal him for a forward who is a strong defender or even another backup big man who fits their current style of play, but it also feels unlikely since he was just signed this offseason. 

 

Current New York Starters

Julius Rande, RJ Barrett, Jalen Brunson, Mitchell Robinson, Quentin Grimes

I don’t see any of these players being dealt. It’s possible that the Randle trade discussions happen in the offseason if New York falls short again in the playoffs, but given his recent performance, it would be hard to envision the team trading him mid-season unless a younger big-name player, and a more natural go-to scorer, becomes available.

However, that seems highly unlikely, so I think this is your starting lineup, barring injury, for the rest of the season. 

Now that we’ve covered what the trade deadline could look like for the current Knicks, we’ll have part two later this week in which we go over what trade targets could be most appealing to New York. 

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Evan Fournier New York Knicks
Mar 23, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; New York guard Evan Fournier (13) reacts after making a three-point shot that makes him the all-time three-point scorer in franchise history during the second half against the Charlotte Hornets at the Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

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