Depending on which news source you most frequent, the Knicks are either kicking the tires on a deal for Russell Westbrook, going hard after Victor Oladipo, trying to find a Chris Paul trade package that doesn’t include Kevin Knox, or mulling a massive offer for free agent Fred VanVleet. Maybe all four!
There’s no harm in staying informed, but the truth is that no one on the outside actually has any clue what the Knicks are planning. The NBA Finals just finished and we don’t know when next season is going to start (seems like January at the earliest). These are the dog days of NBA reporting, where everyone is trying to make a meal out of a crumb in order to satiate starving fanbases.
Interesting: @IanBegley says he doesn’t think this Knicks front office talks to a lot of people about their plans. He doesn’t think many outside of inner circle knows what they are planning this offseason in terms of trades/priorities— JB (@JeffreyBellone) October 6, 2020
via @LockedOnKnicks https://t.co/flVMV60rpj
Leon Rose and friends are in a unique position this offseason. Right now, the Knicks have eight players who could enter free agency if the team chooses not to pick up any of their options: Bobby Portis, Maurice Harkless, Taj Gibson, Elfrid Payton, Wayne Ellington, Reggie Bullock, Damyean Dotson and recently signed Theo Pinson.
That’s a ton of potential player movement. Next year, New York’s roster could look completely different. Can we suss out what’s real and what’s not? We can certainly try.
Could The Knicks Net Russell Westbrook?
There are multiple reports that the Knicks have interest in wrangling Russ, who has three years and $132 million remaining on his contract.
Ah! That's pretty interesting. (Russell Westbrook) pic.twitter.com/S61iAZRUAj— Vlipsy - Reaction Videos (@ReactionVlips) March 24, 2020
On the one hand, this is exactly the type of move the Knicks shouldn’t make. Westbrook is a poor shooter who is on the other side of 30 and no longer has quite the same bounce that once made him an unstoppable dunking machine.
On that other hand, however, Westbrook has continued to put up impressive numbers year after year (27 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists per game last season), and he’s only a few years removed from winning the 2016-17 MVP. Plus, you gotta admit it would be kind of fun to see Westbrook and Kevin Durant battle it out in New York City.
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You might hate the contract (three years left, over $40M per), but a pursuit of Russell Westbrook — if the Rockets look to move him — has to be explored by the #Knicks. One reason why #NBA should root for it is how much it would wake up the NY market. Russ vs KD would be spicy!!! @bartandhahn
But who are you trading for Westbrook? Are the Knicks getting assets in return? What assets does Houston even have to offer? Those are three of many, many questions that arise when you begin to consider a Westbrook-to-the-Knicks trade.
Are The Knicks Going After CP3?
Rose used to represent Paul, and rumors that the Knicks were craving CP3 date back to the very first day Rose got the job. Apparently, if Paul does join the Knicks, they may look to team him with Carmelo Anthony. Huh.
The Knicks, like many other teams, are most likely weighing whether or not they can trade for Paul without giving up the entire farm, but let’s be real. No matter how much the Oklahoma City Thunder may like the idea of Kevin Knox, a deal built around the now-21-year-old is probably not going to land one of the best point guards in NBA history.
Mark this one up as something to keep an eye on, but remember to spice it up with many grains of salt.
Is Julius Randle As Good As Gone?
In early September it was reported that trading Randle would be a priority for the Rose regime. It was an easy report to believe; Randle is both a remnant of the previous front and one of the only veteran players on the roster who might have some trade value.
His contract is sizable with $18.9 million in guaranteed money for the upcoming season, but the third year of deal — which would pay him $19.8 million — is a team option.
If Thibs sees potential in a talented basketballer who’s already here, maybe the front office will retain Randle for at least one more season. Or maybe he’ll be dealt the very second teams are allowed to start making trades (which is TBD, btw).
Will The Knicks Land Oladipo?
Meanwhile, according to the New York Post, Oladipo is very much on the Knicks’ radar, and might even be a higher priority than Paul. The thinking there seems to be that, because Scott Perry drafted Oladipo in Orlando, he’ll push for the team to go after his former lottery pick.
Recent years have borne out the idea that Perry likes bringing in guys he’s previously worked with — see Mario Hezonja and Elfrid Payton as examples. But, like...so many teams are likely interested in Oladipo, with the main reason being that he’s an All-Star whose contract expires after next season, so he could be locked up as a key cog on a competitor for many years.
Do the Knicks want him? Probably, because why not? Do the current reports mean he’s going to land in New York? No, no they don’t. This one goes down as a rumor that needs much more juice before we can start drinking the Oladipo-to-the-Knicks kool aid.
Are The Knicks Prepared To Offer VanVleet A Monster Contract?
A few weeks back, this report saying the Knicks are expected to offer VanVleet a deal paying him more than $22 million per year made waves in the Knicksverse. VanVleet has had himself an impressive couple of years, and has displayed the ability to dazzle during the playoffs.
But according to SNY’s Ian Begley, who has earned his reputation as someone who tries to fly above the BS, while the Knicks are indeed interested in VanVleet, they are not necessarily prepared to offer him more than $20 million a year.
Clearly, that’s the kind of offer a team would need to make to try to pry VanVleet from Toronto. But a source familiar with the matter strongly disputes the idea that New York has any offer prepared for VanVleet at the moment.
The Knicks are likely one of many teams that are keeping tabs on VanVleet, but right now that’s all we know for sure: they are probably keeping tabs on him.
How About All Those Other Trade Rumors?
Marc Berman of the New York Post recently penned a piece outlining five potential trade targets for the Knicks, including Paul and Oladipo, plus Joel Embiid, Paul George and Karl-Anthony Towns.
Uh, yeah, so about all that. Might the Knicks be interested in prying Embiid away from Philadelphia? Sure thing! Only the 76ers just hired Doc Rivers, who probably isn’t jonesing to trade one of the two best players on the roster for draft picks and youngsters with potential.
How about Playoff P? Yah, it would be totes cool to have him on the Knicks or whatever. But who are you trading for George at the moment? Do the Los Angeles Clippers want to pair Julius Randle with Kawhi Leonard? Probably not.
Finally, Towns. If the Timberwolves stink next year, maybe Towns will desire a change of scenery. But probably not beforehand. And why would the T-Wolves willingly let Towns go play for Tom Thibodeau again? Wouldn’t it be embarrassing if he thrived under Thibs in New York after failing to find much success under Thibs in Minnesota?
That Berman article seems kind of like this P&T piece about big-name players who could be available after getting eliminated from the playoffs: it’s pure conjecture written to get the online Knicks community talking.
Remember, James Dolan Could Always Choose To Get Involved
Oh yeah, he still owns the team.