It feels like the New York Knicks front office has reached a point of no return. Or, perhaps better said, a point of one-first-round-pick-or-nothing fixated return.
Just a few days after The Athletic’s Shams Charania ($) reported a “willingness to discuss” Immanuel Quickley in trade talks by the Knicks front office—along with an interest in moving on from Derrick Rose—Fred Katz is now reporting the return New York is chasing in exchange for the third-year guard.
“According to sources around the league, the Knicks have targeted a future first-round pick in a return for Quickley,“ wrote Katz, before noting that IQ is about to become eligible for a contract extension next summer.
In the opening line of his piece, Katz remembers readers to “never forget the mission.” Spot on, lads.
Our own Kento Kato wrote about Charania’s report a few days ago and he already highlighted the appeal Quickley might have to suitors around the Association, saying that while IQ “has been struggling on offense,” he has nonetheless “turned himself into a very good perimeter defender.” And Kato is absolutely right.
Quickley is, also, 23 years old and one of the main building blocks of the young New York Knicks. Yes, there is Jalen Brunson. Yes, there is RJ Barrett. Heck, there are Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson too, if you wish.
Judging by what the front office did this past summer when it came to deciding which direction to follow in terms of roster construction, it makes sense for the front office to chase this type of trade.
Whether that’s the right move or not is up for debate. There is no limit to how many drafts picks a franchise can acquire. There is, though, a limit to the number of players that can be rostered at any point in time, and there is also this little thing called contending.
That latter thing, just in case, is only achievable by virtue of having actual, flesh-and-bone human beings playing basketball on hardwood floors around the nation, instead of up-in-the-air, future, and intangible draft assets in bunches.
Not to mention, building a war chest of draft picks might not be as appealing to the rest of the league as it may look to the club holding it.
Katz nicely summarized the current state of Knicks' affairs writing that “New York want to trade for a star. Not sign one. Not increase their chances of drafting one.“
Of course, there is always the possibility of another franchise offering something different than a first-round pick that calls for the brass' attention and leads to a bigger deal. A package of multiple players—both going out and coming in—might do the trick. Would that solve this franchise main problem, though?
It looks like the Knicks front office, at this point, is keeping an eye on the contract of the young players on the roster and the implication of their upcoming extensions if they end up inking them. As Katz writes, “Quickley is cheap this season and the next one, but once he earns his market value [other franchises] will think about him differently.“
Reminds everybody of what happened with Utah not being entirely convinced of trading for a now-filthy-rich RJ Barrett.
There is nothing really new in New York shopping Quickley. He was part of trade talks last summer when the Knicks and the Jazz discussed Donovan Mitchell. The only deal-breaker player was, reportedly, Quentin Grimes.
The Knicks now have Brunson starting at the point, Cam Reddish and Grimes fighting for starts at the two-guard spot, Derrick Rose and IQ waiting for their moments, Deuce McBride on the periphery, and Evan Fournier still there bagging money while racking up DNP-CDs. Something has to give. As has in the taller-position part of the rotation with a clogged Rob/Hartenstein/Sims/Randle/Toppin group of big men with just two positions available for them.
Considering how the front office has operated of late, basically making moves that have encouraged Coach Thibodeau to go with alternate options to IQ and Toppin favoring other, more experienced players the FO has handed him (even after drafting the two youngsters with first-round picks...) the writing is on the wall for one or both to get flipped for whatever Leon Rose & Co. think would get them closer to the eventual landing of their “megastar.”
Now, you tell me what that type of top-tier player would do in a team that, reasonably and realistically, would need to empty their draft coffers (which are not as large nor bright as some have made them look like) and send good players the other way around (leaving one or two of Brunson/RJ/Randle on the roster, but not much more proven talents to play with in NYC).
Cam Reddish took New York trading a protected first-round pick to acquire, so you do the math. In other words: Brooklyn is not trading Kevin Durant for three protected firsts, nor is Los Angeles going to flip Anthony Davis for IQ plus a couple of mid-round picks, let alone Oklahoma City trading next-great Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to put IQ/Grimes/Toppin/McBride next to Chet.
There should be no untouchable players in this team, but there definitely should be some plan that doesn’t point all 20 Leon Rose’s fingers—and the Knicks’, by extension—in purgatory direction.
The infinite loop of mediocrity, though, seems to be alive, well, and going strong around these places. Bring a megastar by depleting the team, or pile on draft picks and keep dreaming of something big.
Either way, the best we could do is check back on the franchise again in eight or ten years. Maybe things have changed by then. Or maybe the front office is still kicking cans down their wonderfully fabricated road.