Knicks fans did not want this kind of article when the season started. All of the commotion around the team’s starting point guard was supposed to be temporarily on pause. Kemba Walker wasn’t expected to be the savior at point, but he was supposed to upgrade over Elfrid Payton. Instead, it only took 20 games into the season for Tom Thibodeau to surprise everyone by yanking Walker not only from the starting lineup, but the rotation as well.
Now Walker is on the outside looking in. Other teams have already come calling on his availability via trade. There’s a large contingency of Knicks fans who believe Rose should stay pat and continue filling the lead guard minutes with the players already on the roster. Maybe even give Immanuel Quickley a shot at starting. Or even bolder, rope rookie Miles McBride into the regular rotation.
Rose hasn’t been one to make reactionary trades. But with the Walker experiment going full bust, he might need to seek out another coup of last year’s Derrick Rose-caliber. There are options of various tiers available for Leon to scout. They’ve been collected with analyses below for Knicks fans to ponder. So let’s get to it.
The Good: John Wall still has ball left in his NBA life. When he played last season, he put up competitive stats of 21 points and seven assists in 40 games. Wall has an injury rap sheet longer than almost any other player in the NBA. The guy has suffered so many tears and breaks, yet still possesses an offensive punch better than most starting guards. His 3-point shot is serviceable at a career rate of 32%. And he has playoff experience, having battled alongside Bradley Beal as teammates on those underachieving Wizards squads. Wall is not as busted as Walker and has had a ton of rest after he and the Rockets agreed early on to sit this season until a trade deal could be made.
The Bad: Let’s start with the litany of injuries that have derailed Wall’s career from being one of the top three-point guards in the league. He is not yet a shell but a cracked version of the speedster he was in Washington. He has also never been committed or exceptionally good at defense. So he would hurt the Knicks there as well. He’s only known ball dominance and would break the Knicks' fluidity with his career average of four turnovers a game.
The Ugly: He has 92 million dollars owed through this season and next. It’s the worst contract in the NBA.
The Good: Malcolm Brogdon is giving the Indiana Pacers 21, 6, and 6 this season. Brogdon is a model of consistency as a sturdy guard who can be depended on to initiate offense and hit clutch threes. He is also an above-average man-on-man defender and, at 6’5”, would be able to play in Thibodeau’s switching defense. He is also 88% for his career at the charity stripe, which would give the Knicks’ fourth-quarter foul line woes a must-needed boost.
The Bad: Brogdan’s admirable stats are a bit inflated. They rarely impact winning, as the Pacers currently sit at 10-16 entering tonight’s matchup with the Knicks. Of course, not all of that can be attributed to Brogdon, but the guard doesn’t have a history of making his teammates better and usually looks for his shot before building chemistry with those around him. He also has a history of injuries, with his rookie season being the only season where he played more than 65 games.
The Ugly: He’s a below-average athlete with a decent handle. It’s hard to imagine he produces the dribble-penetration Thibodeau has been looking for when Derrick Rose exits the game. If that’s the case, what’s the point in absorbing his $22 million a year?
The Good: Terry Rozier is nearly unstoppable when he gets hot. He might be the best pure scorer on this list. He’s a dawg on both ends of the court, unafraid of any competitor, and will give his team 100% effort, something Thibodeau craves. He’s stocky and muscular and can knock down free throws when he gets to the line, which you can imagine would increase if he joined the Knicks as a starter. He would also be more on-ball for New York, as opposed to playing off-ball next to Lamelo Ball in Charlotte. This would lead to more opportunities to play in the pick and roll with Julius Randle, whose skill set complements Rozier’s.
The Bad: Like Kemba, Rozier’s undersized at 6’1”. He’s also not a “pure” point-guard, meaning he would need the ball in his hands to be effective and wouldn’t alleviate the spacing and chemistry issues plaguing the Knicks. He would also hurt the team defensively when switched onto bigger guards. So while he's better than Walker offensively and can put up more effort on the defensive end, his height and defensive ability don't provide much improvement upon Walker’s lackings.
The Ugly: It feels like Rozier has been linked to the Knicks since his days on the outs with Boston. There’s a reason Scott Perry never pulled the trigger. He’s not much of a culture guy. Remember when he threw his teammates under the bus to the press? He also comes with a hefty contract starting at $17 million this year and increasing nearly $3 million annually from now until 2026.
The Good: Dejounte Murray has gotten considerably better every year. He’s averaging nearly 20 points per game this season and has improved his rebounding as well as getting to the line. He’s a good size at 6’4” and has learned under the best coach around in Greg Popovich, so you know he would come in and be a solid culture fit for Thibodeau off the bat.
The Bad: Murray can score, but can he do much else? He would give the Knicks a fast-paced guard to play alongside our athletic bigs in transition, but doesn't Quickley already do that? Plus, Murray shoots a career average of 30% from three and wouldn't add much spacing.
The Ugly: He is not only the Spurs' best player but perhaps one of two guys they can genuinely build around. It’s unlikely the Spurs would even consider letting him go.
The Good: De’Aaron Fox is indisputably the best player of this bunch, a dynamo on the break currently scoring over 20 a night. He has the potential to be an All-Star one day. Nearly unstoppable in the open court, Fox has a deep bag of offensive tricks and fits the description of a “walking bucket.”
The Bad: Fox currently holds a PER of 15.9, barely scratching the surface of the league’s average. His stats rarely impact winning, and he has appeared to give up when the team is losing and rarely looks to be the type of player the Kings can build their team around. These qualities make him the most-likely guard traded out of the Kings’ backcourt over Tyrese Haliburton and Davion Mitchell.
The Ugly: What would it cost? As inept as they are, one has to imagine Sacramento would at least realize Fox is one of their top trade chips and ask for a king’s ransom in return. Of course, Leon Rose would have to be protective of trading any player out of his thriving young core, as they are the backbone of the Knicks’ success. Draft picks would be the significant collateral in any deal. But how many is too much? Are they lottery-protected? Is Fox worth all of that?