‘Tis the season to be traded?
Emerging reports are suggesting that the New York Knicks could have made Immanuel Quickley available for trade fearing losing him for nothing next summer. The decision not to extend Quickley’s contract this summer, a move some argue he rightly deserved, has left the Knicks at a crossroads, managing their most sought-after trade asset.
Amidst unsuccessful negotiations between the Knicks and Quickley’s camp, Quickley, 24, is poised to explore free agency in July. With the Knicks having already rejected Quickley’s request for a $25 million per year contract extension, the likelihood of them matching a potential max deal offered by another team in the upcoming summer seems unlikely, especially just to have him continue in his current role as Jalen Brunson’s backup. The team faces a crucial decision on whether to prioritize financial prudence or risk losing Quickley to a more lucrative offer from another team.
As the days pass, the risk of losing Quickley to free agency looms larger and larger. The Knicks find themselves in a race against time and the Knicks must act quickly but not too quickly (pun intended), as the trade deadline isn’t until February, to make a move and ensure they don’t walk away empty-handed.
One potential suitor that has surfaced as a frontrunner in the Quickley sweepstakes is the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs are lacking a true starting point guard. Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich’s “turn Jeremy Sochan into Magic Johnson” experiment has failed miserably. Pop’s decision to keep Sochan at the starting point guard shows he’s unwilling to move Tre Jones to the first unit further emphasizing the need for an upgrade.
Undoubtedly, Victor Wembanyama possesses the potential to become a superstar and face not just of the Spurs but of the entire Association for years to come. However, despite showcasing incredible highlights and posting impressive stat lines, Wembanyama’s impact on the San Antonio Spurs’ performance has been limited.
The team currently finds itself positioned amongst the league’s bottom three, sporting a record of 3-18. While Wembanyama’s individual brilliance is evident, his contributions have not translated into a significant improvement for the Spurs compared to the previous season. To transcend their current standing and escape the draft lottery cycle, the San Antonio Spurs face a pressing need to build a more robust roster around Victor Wembanyama. Particularly crucial is shoring up the point guard position to complement Wembanyama’s skill set, providing a playmaker who can adeptly run the offense and facilitate his scoring opportunities.
Immanuel Quickley has emerged as a compelling solution, capable of not only orchestrating plays but also making a significant impact with his scoring prowess. Quickley’s potential arrival would represent an instant fix and a substantial upgrade at the point guard position for the Spurs. Teaming IQ up with Wemby is sure to fix the team’s goal of maximizing the young star’s talents while providing the two of them with an opportunity to form one of the league’s most captivating and exciting 1-2 punches.
By placing Quickley on the trade market, the Knicks also have an opportunity to leverage his value to facilitate a deal involving Evan Fournier’s contract, exploring avenues to acquire another star, possibly someone like DeMar DeRozan to join Brunson and Julius Randle in Manhattan.
The one caveat in trying to deal with the Spurs right now is that the Spurs find themselves in a unique position, holding a 3-18 record and poised to secure another top lottery pick in the upcoming draft. This situation affords them the luxury of not being compelled to rush into a trade deal that may require Fournier’s contract or a pick they don’t want to give up.
The only real risk the Spurs are taking by not making a deal with the Knicks right now is that it leaves the door open for other potential suitors such as the Orlando Magic—another franchise currently experiencing point guard issues. However, should the Spurs decide to take this calculated gamble and refrain from an immediate trade, they’d position themselves strategically for the future.
If the Knicks fail to reach an agreement with another team before the February trade deadline, the Spurs will then have the financial means to meet Quickley’s contract demands next summer when he’ll be a restricted free agent. By doing so, they could sign him outright without the necessity of a trade, leaving the Knicks without any substantial returns for the promising player.
What would you do? Trade Quick now, pony up in July, or let him go for nothing?