With the trade deadline in the rearview mirror and a little over a quarter of the season remaining, the Knicks are reportedly rounding out their roster by waiving both players acquired in the Austin Rivers deal while weighing whether to sign a backup center who can fill the hole created by Mitchell Robinson’s fractured foot.
The tidbits come from Shams Charania of The Athletic and Marc Berman of the New York Post, respectively.
Knicks continue to keep 7-foot shotblocking center Norvel Pelle on their radar. Was a consideration after Mitchell Robinson broke his hand but they stood pat and he signed with Nets, then Sacramento. He's free agent now.— Marc Berman (@NYPost_Berman) March 28, 2021
Let’s look at them one by one and dissect what’s going on like we’re in high school science class.
Hello, and goodbye, to Terrance Ferguson and Vincent Porier
We hardly knew y’all. In fact, we didn’t know ye at all. The only deal made by New York on the day of the trade deadline was a three-teamer with Oklahoma City and Philadelphia. It saw the Knicks ship Rivers and Ignas Brazdeikis out of town in exchange for Terrance Ferguson, Vincent Porier and a 76ers second round pick in the next draft.
At first glance, the whole trade could seem like a bit of a head scratcher. So we traded Rivers and Iggy for...a second round pick? Give it another glance, though, and you just might get it. Rivers had fallen out of the rotation and no longer made sense on the roster, but instead of buying him out and allowing him to go sign wherever, Leon Rose figured out how to extract value in the form of a draft pick.
In recent years, New York’s leadership has felt stuck in the mud while other franchises raced forward into the future. Need examples? Here’s a couple quickies: the Knicks attached Kristaps Porzingis to a trade, in part, to help get rid of Tim Hardaway Jr.; they were unable to trade Enes Kanter, so they bought him out, and he was swiftly snapped up by the Boston Celtics (he now plays significant minutes for the playoff-bound Portland Trail Blazers); they’re paying Joakim Noah, who last played for the Knicks in 2018, more than $6.4 million this year.
Okay, enough reminiscing. The point is that the current people in charge make moves with purpose, unlike multiple previous front offices.
In waiving Ferguson and Porier, the Knicks aren’t necessarily losing anything too special. Ferguson is a 22-year-old, 6’6” wing who was picked 21st overall by OKC in 2017. He has spent a lot of time in the G-League and is mostly known for being able to dunk. Thanks, but we’ve got Obi Toppin in that role.
Terrance Ferguson turned this game into his own personal slam dunk contest pic.twitter.com/ofnxokxo72— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 4, 2018
As for Porier, he’s a 27-year-old 7-footer who played professionally in Spain until July 2019, when he left Saski Baskonia to sign with the Boston Celtics. He played 6 minutes per night across 22 games for the Celtics last year, and this season only appeared in 10 games for the 76ers before being traded to the Knicks.
Porier hails from France, and he seemed to believe he was actually about to team up with fellow Frenchman Frank Ntilikina. Alas.
Reinforcements may be on the way in the form of Norvel Pelle
Separately, the Knicks are mulling whether to sign Norvel Pelle, a 28-year-old, 6’10” center whose journey to the NBA isn’t your average story: Pelle entered the NBA draft in 2013, but ultimately pulled out because of extreme blisters on his foot that required surgical removal. He was subsequently selected sixth overall by the the Delaware 87ers in the G-League draft.
In addition to the G-League, he spent time playing professionally in Taiwan and Italy. In 2019, he finally made it to the NBA, signing with the 76ers on a two-way contract. This year, he was on the Brooklyn Nets and Sacramento Kings for a minute apiece, but he’s currently a free agent. In 28 career NBA games, Pelle has averaged 2 points, 3 rebounds and 1 block in about 9 minutes per contest.
He’s known for his defense. Like earlier this season, for instance, when he notched 3 swats against the 76ers in 17 minutes of action.
Pelle would be another move on the margins, but that’s where successful teams often shine. He’d be able to sometimes spell Taj Gibson, who shouldn’t have to play the amount of minutes he’s been forced to because of Robinson’s injuries. And he’d be able to provide six fouls every night, if need be.
Of course, other options remain if the Knicks are looking to pick up a center ( )