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Knicks notes on Karl-Anthony Towns, Alex Caruso, Zach LaVine

To trade, or not to trade?

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The weekend came and it brought a couple of back-to-back games with it for the New York Knicks to sweep. Do you know what else we got through the last few days? You’re correct!

A bunch of reports related to a couple of Knicks’ (probable, potential, likely) trade targets Zach LaVine and Karl-Anthony Towns.

If you need or want some context, I wrote about the whole LaVine situation ahead of the weekend when it was first echoed Shams Charania’s report for The Athletic about the Bulls and ZLV agreeing to “explore trade scenarios” that benefit both parties.

Just hours after that, Jake Fischer of Yahoo! Sports confirmed Shams’ report and added more information feed by sources to Yahoo.

Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls sitting in the middle of nowhere

Fischer acknowledged that the Chicago Bulls are, in fact, “actively exploring trade options for two-time All-Star guard Zach LaVine,” and he added that according to league sources, they were already on it as early as “this past offseason.”

The Bulls and LaVine are now “mutually interested in finding a trade,” Fischer confirmed

According to Fischer, LaVine’s four-year, $180 million deal is “viewed as a deterrent” by “a handful of front offices” around the NBA. The insider also wrote that although LaVine’s desire is “to play for a winning franchise,” there has been “plenty of criticism from league personnel regarding [LaVine’s] own culpability in Chicago’s losing nature.”

Shams originally named the Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, and Philadelphia 76ers as LaVine’s preferred landing spots, to which Fischer surprisingly added the San Antonio Spurs, according to his sources. The Bulls superstar would be interested in pairing with Victor Wembanyama and reuniting with head coach Gregg Popovich, who coached him at Team USA.

In addition to these preferences, Fischer also name-dropped the Sacramento Kings, another franchise that is reportedly appealing to LaVine after Sacramento already tried to sign him as a restricted free agent in 2018. It’s worth noting, as Fischer did in his piece, that LaVine played at UCLA during his college days.

Most recently, there was some more CHI/ZLV drama as the player pushed a PR person on the court following the Bulls win over Miami last Saturday. LaVine spoke to the media after that, clarifying that it was “just a miscommunication,” and “We’re all fine.”

Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote a story about the postgame event, stating “When coach Billy Donovan found out about what happened he was downright ticked.”

Anyway, the interest in finding a solution and a trade sounds to be real, but as you see, this whole LaVine-to-the-Knicks narrative that some are trying to push is nowhere to be found in either report released by Shams and Fischer.

There might have been some interest, but it’s sounding more than ever like a simple exploratory call made by the Knicks brass to the Bulls FO to get an idea of where things stood with their star. What’s the price? What’s the willingness to move on from him? Yada yada... No more, no less, which is daily business in the NBA.

Karl-Anthony Towns trade talk pushed by the New York media?

This one I didn’t expect.

Matt Moore of Action Network dropped a rather interesting report at the start of last weekend touching on all things Karl-Anthony Towns and his potential trade.

It’s been more than a while since Towns became the next “disgruntled-player-to-be” and by extension the nth preternatural trade target of the Knicks. Is there anything real to that, though? Not according to Moore and his sources.

Contrary to widespread speculation, Moore wrote that “sources close to the Wolves continue to say [KAT’s availability in a trade] is overblown, if not outright wrong.”

While Moore (and everybody else) acknowledges the Knicks' interest in Towns, the insider revealed that there is a “feeling in league circles” outside of Minny that believes “this situation is largely being promoted from within New York.” If you can’t find a disgruntled player, push him into that situation, I guess...

Moore wrote that the Wolves would like to improve their team via trade, but he also made clear that the franchise is “far from ‘shopping’ Towns.” He added that “any price will be steep.”

What I find most interesting about this report is the intel Moore shared about the Knicks’ strategy when it comes to the ever-discussed “final piece” trade. Moore revealed that sources told his platform the Knicks “do not intend on making Mitchell Robinson available,” and more importantly, that New York “prefers to try and replicate the two-big look of Minnesota with Towns and Gobert—only with Mitchell (and someone else, potentially Towns).”

We had no prior reports touching on that, and the track record of the front office (at least when it comes to rumors and players linked to the Knicks) has actually painted the total opposite picture.

Yes, Joel Embiid is the no. 1 (and pretty much unattainable) target. Other than that fever-dream acquisition, the Knicks have been linked to the likes of LaVine, Paul George, Donovan Mitchell, OG Anunoby, and all other types of guards/wings.

Big men? Not a lot, if any at all, if you don’t count Embiid (impossible to get, don’t fool yourself) and Zion Williamson (who I don’t personally consider a natural “big”).

Does this mean the Knicks would entertain discussing trades involving RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley, and Quentin Grimes before they concede adding Mitch to the package? Interesting!

Is Alex Caruso the Chicago Bulls' ultimate trade chip?

On a final trade-market note, Fischer included a little chunk of intel about the potential availability of another Chicago Bulls player: guard Alex Caruso.

Fischer wrote, “The sense around NBA decision-makers is that Caruso’s contract could generate a market that touches most of the league, championship contenders and inexperienced playoff hopefuls alike.”

Caruso is playing under a two-year deal running through June 2025 at just under $10 million per, and Fischer went the distance stating Caruso “could possibly net Chicago its greatest return of any player on the roster.“

According to Fischer’s information, the Bulls have asked for “multiple first-round picks” in exchange for Caruso when teams have asked for the guard.

Fischer added that “it’s not unreasonable to expect Caruso to fetch the Bulls a similar price point of draft capital, as Holiday netted the Blazers.” To wit: both a 2024 and a 2029 first-round pick. Sheesh...