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Guard or big... do the Wizards have what the Knicks need?

D.C. holds backup bodies in bunches. Will the Knicks enter the conversation?

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 25: L to R: Washington Wizards guard Photo by John McDonnell/The Washington Post via Getty Images

What do the Knicks need the most? A little guard capable of handing the rock off the pine with shooting prowess? A young, stout big to man the pain and bolster the backup at the five?

Whatever the case is, they might have the perfect partner in possession of those assets in D.C.

I wrote about some players linked to the Knicks by a few NBA Insiders, all of them currently employed by the lowly Utah Jazz: guard Collin Sexton, wing Jordan Clarkson, and big Kelly Olynyk.

I purposely left out a few nuggets shared by those insiders in the sources I linked, mainly related to a couple of players from an entirely different organization: the Washington Wizards.

Those two men: guard Tyus Jones and center Daniel Gafford.

ESPN’s Brian Windhors and fellow pundits Tim MacMahon and Tim Bontemps were the ones doing the heavy talk in the latest episode of the Hoop Collective podcast, with the latter two floating those two options as potential Knicks targets.

Tim MacMahon, specifically, suggested the Knicks consider Tyus Jones, who previously played under current Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau in Minnesota.

“I would be calling Washington about Tyus Jones,” said MacMahon after mentioning Utah and the Clarkson/Sexton pairing as alternatives worth exploring by the Knicks.

After completing the trade for OG Anunoby and saying goodbye to Immanuel Quickley, the Knicks lost all productive true point guards in their rotation with the backup options being Deuce McBride and the incoming Malachi Flynn.

Jones could be a perfect complement to Jalen Brunson taking over the one when JB sits. It’s also worth noting that Jones is currently on a contract year, with his deal expiring next summer holding a cap hit of $14 million this season.

Jones would probably take much less to trade for in terms of assets going the other way than most players linked to the Knicks if the front office prioritizes completing some mid-tier moves before pulling off the final transaction for a bonafide, elite superstar.

According to Zach Lowe of ESPN, talking on the Jan. 8th episode of his podcast, Jones’ value could be set at “multiple seconds” by the Wizards. That’s a fair price to demand for a player on an expiring deal by a franchise that is a lock to finish with a bottom-five record this season, and thus trying to extract something in trading their players away now instead losing them for nothing next summer.

Jones is currently averaging career highs with 12.7 points, 5.6 assists, 2.8 rebounds, and 1.2 steals per game. He’s slashing 53/44/73, which also marks career-high figures on the field-goal and 3-point accuracy fronts while his free-throw percentage has gone down a bit from last season’s 80.6%.

On the other side of the webcam, Tim Bontemps brought another Wizards player into the discussion that the Knicks might be interested in bringing to Mahattan if the franchise opts to go bit instead of small.

Bontemps highlighted Daniel Gafford as the Wiz of interest for the Knicks. “The guy that I think would be really interesting for the Knicks is Daniel Gafford.”

The pundit didn’t stop there, proceeding to explain his reasoning for a trade benefiting New York if they follow that path. “You pair [Gafford] with Isaiah Hartenstein. You get back to what was one of the real Knicks strengths before Mitchell Robinson got hurt—which say you had 48 minutes of high-quality above-average-to-really-good center play.

“Whether it’s Precious Achiuwa or Jericho Sims, they don’t really have the same thing now even though Isaiah Hartenstein has been awesome since taking the starting job for Mitchell Robinson,” Bontemps said.

Gaffford’s contract, however, is on the opposite side of the Jones’ expiring-deal spectrum. The big man recently signed an extension with the Wizards running through the end of the 2025/26 season. He’s earning a bit over $12 million this year, $13 million next season, and $14 in his last year under contract.

This season, Gafford is averaging 10.5 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks this season. He’s shooting much worse percentages than last season (68% to 73.2% a year ago) and you won’t find him stretching the floor at all as he operates exclusively in the paint. His free-throw shooting, however, has gone way up to 73% compared to last year’s (and career-wide) 67.9% from the charity stripe.

There have not been many rumors about Gafford’s availability, with the latest coming from Jake Fischer of Yahoo! before Christmas. He wrote a column discussing some trade talk going on during the G League Winter Showcase.

“Gafford may be the next-best option (after Clint Capela, according to Fischer) for the Knicks, or any other team, in search of available starting-level talent at the position,” Fischer wrote. “The Wizards are shaping into sellers with a (then) 5-22 record in this first year under Michael Winger’s new front office.”

One franchise, a couple of seemingly-available players, and two very different options for the Knicks in trading for one or the other. P&Ters thoughts on them?