Since Leon Rose stepped into the job as President of Basketball Operations for the New York Knicks, there have been rumors indicating the franchise’s priority, for the 37th year in a row, is to address the need for a quality lead guard. There have been links to Chris Paul, a former Rose client, as well as rumors circulating that the Knicks will use their lottery pick on one of the numerous options at the top of the draft.
However, it seems the team nearly made a move to address the situation prior to the trade deadline passing, per SNY’s Ian Begley:
Prior to the 2020 trade deadline, the Knicks had strong interest in acquiring a few guards. We know they engaged with Golden State on D’Angelo Russell — both before and after the news of Rose’s hire was reported. But prior to the news of the Rose hire, there was strong support in some corners of the organization to try to acquire Charlotte guard Terry Rozier, per sources.
The framework of one deal that had internal support sent Julius Randle, Smith Jr. and a future first-round pick to Charlotte for a package that included Rozier and Malik Monk, per sources.
It’s unknown what else would have been in the deal and how close — if at all — it came to fruition. Also unknown is Charlotte’s interest level in executing that trade.
The Knicks’ interest in Rozier dates back to last summer. Prior to the start of free agency, rumors circulated indicating that in the event that the franchise’s star dreams went bust, the former Celtic was of high interest. In fact, the night before free agency Rozier was certainly under the impression he’d be a Knick, allowing himself to imagine what it would be like to call Madison Square Garden home.
It had been reported leaded up to the deadline that the players involved in this unconsummated deal were rumored to be of interest in trade discussions between the teams. Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer reported on New York and Charlotte’s interest in a Randle/Rozier swap in the hours leading up to the deadline.
The only new tidbit of information is the future first round pick New York would have given up in the deal. The fact that there were people within the organization — at least at the time — who supported such a framework of the deal is concerning.
Rozier certainly would provide a perimeter scoring threat the Knicks lack, averaging career-highs in points per game, field goal percentage, 3-point percentage, effective field goal percentage, and true shooting percentage. There’s an argument to be made that the extra year of guaranteed salary the Knicks would be taking on is worth the risk given the obvious need for a credible pull-up shooting threat from the backcourt position.
That said, Charlotte wants to get off that additional money with the emergence of Devonte’ Graham and Cody and Caleb Martin in their backcourt. Additionally, they could certainly use an inside scoring presence like Randle. The Knicks would at least have the leverage here to make such a swap without giving up an asset, and really should be pushing for Charlotte to sweeten the pot.
Monk is a superior prospect to Smith Jr., which is more of a function of the latter’s complete and utter failure across the board this season rather than anything to do with serious progression from Monk. Of course, Monk has since been suspended indefinitely for a drug violation. Either way, acquiring Monk should never have moved the needle so much to give up a future first given the other factors in the deal.
Begley notes that it’s unclear how close the deal ever was to coming to fruition. Rose has now stepped in to lead the franchise in the wake of Steve Mills’ departure, and with that significant change at the top of the org, it’s unknown if the Knicks will even have continued interest in Rozier as they look to find a solution to their decades-long search for a high-caliber lead guard.