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Kicking around some recent trade rumors

Some of these trades make no sense....

NBA: Washington Wizards at Portland Trail Blazers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

The 2022-23 season came to an end in a frustrating and disappointing manner but the future outlook around this year’s squad remains positive and encouraging. Sure the Knicks, like they did two years ago after bowing out in the first round, still have questions about Julius Randle’s playoff performances and the ceiling of Tom Thibodeau as the captain of this ship, but overall, the Knicks are in a much better place.

Jalen Brunson, who is on one of the best value contracts in the league now, has cemented himself as an up and coming star, RJ Barrett reinserted himself into the Knicks’ future plans with his incredibly playoff play, Quentin Grimes and Immanuel Quickley remain two young players that many hold in high regard, and the Knicks have an abundant amount of picks coming up. And because of that, many, including ESPN’s Bobby Marks, believe that the Knicks are in the perfect spot to land a star like Bradley Beal, Damian Lillard, Karl-Anthony Towns, or even DeMar DeRozan. But Leon Rose and the Knicks must be cautious in who they go after and how much they give up and that is a point a lot of fans and reporters are neglecting for some reason. New York is in a prime position to ascend into championship contention with a move or two but their roster is neither good enough or versatile enough to justify getting just anyone. And quite frankly, none of the names mentioned above really move the needle enough.

We can start off with Lillard because he’s one of the biggest name we’ve seen floated around so far. The Trail Blazers’ point guard has been one of the best players in the league for a while now and that was on full display this season when he played. The veteran guard averaged a career-high 32.2PPG, 4.8RPG, and 7.3APG on 46.3% shooting from the field. If the Knicks were to bring Lillard in, he’d instantly and undeniably become the Knicks’ best player. And he’d give the Knicks a proven playoff performer who would take an immense amount of pressure off of Brunson. But we’ve seen a backcourt a kin the one the Knicks would trot out. A back court of Brunson and Lillard, similar to the Lillard-McCollum ones Portland used to deploy, could potent offensively but it would be disastrous defensively. Acquiring Lillard would also sap the Knicks of some of the depth that helped get the Knicks to where they are. While it’d be fun to watch, it likely would not be worth it considering the contract Lillard has, the assets needed to get him, and his age.

Then there’s Beal, who has seemingly been on the trading block for years. In Beal, the Knicks would get a solid offensive player, capable of being a secondary playmaker and scorer while spacing the floor. But like Lillard, Beal carries a massive contract, isn’t particularly young, gets injured often and is not a great defender. New York would probably win more games by getting Beal, but like Lillard, he wouldn’t move the needle enough to make a trade worth it.

How about Towns? Prior to this season, he was averaging 24.8PPG, 11RPG, 3.8APG, and 1.3BPG while shooting 51.3% from the field and 40.2% from 3 from 2018-2022. Pretty good right? But Town, and you’ll start to notice a trend here, has injury concerns and comes with yet another hefty contract. And while his abilities and talents cannot be denied, we also cannot deny that Towns has historically underperformed in the playoffs as well. There’s a chance that if the Knicks were able to replace Randle with him, he’d find a way to be a more stable playoff performer, but that’s a pretty big if considering Towns is averaging just 18.6PPG in the playoffs.

And don’t get me started on the recent DeRozan rumors. The veteran shooting guard is still really good and is coming off of a very solid 24.5 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 5.1 APG campaign in which he shot over 50% from the field. But anyone vouching for a Knicks-DeRozan marriage must be asinine. DeRozan currently has the worst postseason true shooting percentage in the post-3-point line era, (2nd worst is Randle....) making his fit with a team that desperately needs shooting, comically horrendous.

There are surely other players that could end up becoming available and would make sense. And if the Knicks can find someone that is a top 10 player or under 30, on a reasonable contract, fits the roster’s (and more importantly Brunson and Barrett’s) needs, and doesn’t have injury concerns, then sure, go all in. But as stated earlier, the Knicks are not in a “go get a big name just because” phase. They are neither bad enough or good enough for that. So I implore fans and “analysts” to actually think about these hypothetical trades and hope that the Knicks do as well.