The New York Knicks were one of the best defensive teams in the league last NBA season, but so far this year, they have really struggled to play with that same intensity on defense. Ranking just 16th in the league in defensive rating, the Knicks are definitely not terrible defensively, but they are not the same team we saw last season.
As for their offense, they are definitely a much more balanced scoring team, especially with the additions of Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier. The Knicks are currently 11-9 on the season and while they have suffered some bad losses to teams like the Magic and Pacers, they have also won some big games over the Lakers, Bulls, and 76ers.
Being 5-6 at home is something we are not used to seeing, as Madison Square Garden is one of the best home-court advantages in the league, but this team is still trying to develop chemistry with one another. Two of the five players in their starting lineup were not on the team last year and with Mitchell Robinson playing just 31 games last year, he is still trying to get up to speed with everything as well.
In time, this Knicks team will no doubt be a contending force in the Eastern Conference, but the problem right now is time.
With how good the East is this season, the Knicks need to begin putting together a bunch of wins in a row and not just here and there, especially if they want to make it past the first round of the playoffs this year.
Being roughly $19M below the tax line for this season and having some tradable assets, the New York Knicks could absolutely be a team to keep an eye on as the trade deadline approaches this season. There is still a lot of time between now and February 10, but New York needs to begin figuring out what/who they are going to be targeting.
Leon Rose and Scott Perry have done an excellent job of building this team through the years and this front-office really does like the way this team is assembled, but are they good enough to contend against the likes of the Bucks, Nets, Heat, and Bulls right now?
New York could look to add some more depth to their roster ahead of the trade deadline this year, so let’s take a look at three players the Knicks could target, as proposed by Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley, and evaluate whether or not New York should “pass or pursue” said trade targets.
De’Aaron Fox – Sacramento Kings
The New York Knicks do not need to make a trade in order to find success this year, but with the way their roster is constructed right now, it is hard to imagine that they will be far better than they were last season when they lost to the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the playoffs.
They may win a playoff series with this year’s team, but what this team needs is another true star next to Julius Randle. Kemba Walker is not this kind of player anymore and both R.J. Barrett and Evan Fournier are solid secondary scoring options. Going out and trading for De’Aaron Fox would be a massive move for the Knicks to make, but it is just not realistic at this time. The Kings have been unwilling to trade Fox for any All-Star talents and they recently extended him on a five-year max contract, so why would they want to get rid of him?
It is possible they could consider a trade package that included the likes of R.J. Barrett, Obi Toppin and a handful of draft picks, but the value the Knicks would have to sacrifice may outweigh the value that Fox could bring to their team.
Plus, it is not like the Knicks are desperate for a new point guard. Kemba Walker is a former All-Star, as is Derrick Rose, and Immanuel Quickley is starting to play some great basketball in their second unit. These three guys are more than capable of being the Knicks backcourt this season and they have been some of the more productive players on this roster.
There is no doubt that the Knicks would be a better team if De’Aaron Fox were on their roster, but the concern here is what the Knicks would have to give up to acquire him.
Seeing as the Kings have missed the playoffs the last 15 seasons, they are going to be wanting a ton of value for their best young talent, which is why New York would be better off pursuing a trade with another team. Fox is not the difference in them making it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals this season, whereas other trade targets could be.
CJ McCollum – Portland Trail Blazers
Portland has been unwilling to talk about trades involving Damian Lillard, but there has been no word on whether or not they are going to keep CJ McCollum long-term. This decision will likely come closer to the trade deadline this year when the Blazers have a better idea of where they stand in the Western Conference, but it is very clear to see this team needs change.
They are not a championship-level team yet and while they have made the playoffs for eight consecutive years, they really have not been a contending team in any of these seasons! It is more realistic to believe that they would trade Jusuf Nurkic or Robert Covington before CJ McCollum, but the sharpshooting guard definitely holds the most value next to Dame on their roster.
The Knicks have a star in Julius Randle and they have a great group of supporting talents, but this team is really missing a guy who can take over on offense. While he has never made the All-Star Game, CJ McCollum is one of the deadliest backcourt scorers in the league today and has been playing at an All-Star-level the last few years.
What they would have to give up to acquire CJ McCollum is a big question mark, but New York should be willing to give up whatever Portland would want for him. Maybe this means trading away R.J. Barrett and Evan Fournier, but McCollum is exactly the kind of talent the Knicks are lacking in their backcourt right now.
Terrence Ross – Orlando Magic
The 2021-22 season is going to result in the Magic being one of the worst teams in the league, but they are going to continue developing and pursuing other young players to add to their young core. Rookie Jalen Suggs, Cole Anthony, Markelle Fultz, Jonathan Isaac, and Wendell Carter Jr. are just a few of the Magic’s key young players on their roster this season that they will look to develop further, but veteran wing Terrence Ross finds himself as an outlier on this team.
Ross is now 30-years-old and does not appear to be a part of the Orlando Magic’s long-term plans anymore, which is why he could be one of the more sought-after in-season trade targets for many playoff teams around the league. Over the last 4.5 years in Orlando, Terrence Ross has averaged 9.8 points, 1.9 rebounds, and has shot 31.5% from three-point range, making him a key scorer on the wing for virtually any team in this league.
While they are better this season on offense, the New York Knicks could use another experienced scorer off their bench. Being one of the better bench scorers in the league from a season ago, Ross could fit right in with this Knicks’ team.
Terrence Ross is not necessarily a great fit for the New York Knicks defensively, but he gives them more offense off the bench. Currently third in the league in bench points per game, the Knicks already have strong secondary talent and they could add another one with Orlando’s veteran.
Not only did the veteran wing average 15.6 points per game last season while coming off the bench in 44 of the 46 games he played in with the Magic but near the halfway point in the season, he was being mentioned as a player to watch in terms of the Sixth-Man of the Year award.
Having both Derrick Rose and Terrence Ross as two “sixth-man” types of players in their second unit could go a long way in helping the Knicks go from being a first-round playoff team to being an actual contender against the likes of the Bucks, Nets, and Heat in the Eastern Conference.