An Eastern Conference competitor of the New York Knicks just got better today. The Miami Heat acquired guard Terry Rozier from the Charlotte Hornets for Kyle Lowry and a 2027 protected first-round draft pick.
The 2027 first-round pick includes protections, sources tell ESPN. https://t.co/l718AULrTr— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 23, 2024
Miami (24-19) is only two games behind the Knicks (26-17) for the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference. Rozier is having a career year, averaging 23.2 points and 6.6 assists. He will start and be a big contributor for the Heat. Miami has a history of getting the best out of its players, and Rozier should seamlessly fit in there. His scoring will improve a Heat team that’s 26th in points per game this season. Miami also ranks 19th in assists. Rozier’s 10.7 potential assists per game will help that number go up. The 29-year-old is a great pickup for a Heat team that expects itself to make another deep playoff run.
The Knicks have a few ways they can capitalize on this. It is reported that the Hornets have no immediate plan for a buyout with the newly acquired Kyle Lowry. They will try to trade him and get something in return (makes sense) before the February 8th deadline.
The Hornets have no immediate plans to work on a buyout with Lowry and are expected to see if they can work another trade for him before the February 8 deadline, sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 23, 2024
If they strike out on all three or don’t like the asking price, they can opt for the 37-year-old Lowry. He’s as exciting as the other options, but he’s still shown an ability to contribute.
Through 37 games this season, the former Heat guard is averaging 8.2 points, 4.0 assists, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.1 steals in 28.0 minutes per game. Against the Knicks in the 2023 playoffs, he averaged 12.2 points and 5.7 assists.
On the Knicks, his minutes will likely be in the high teens to low 20s, but those numbers look solid to me for someone who can be a backup guard.
Another aspect I like about Lowry is that he probably wouldn’t infiltrate late-game lineups.
That sentence isn’t meant to be a detriment to Lowry; rather, I love what I’m seeing from the current Knicks. A flashier acquisition could potentially mess with chemistry.
The Knick's most-used fourth-quarter lineup this month has consisted of Jalen Brunson, Josh Hart, OG Anunoby, Julius Randle, and Isaiah Harternstein. That group has played 24 fourth-quarter minutes in five games in January. Their offensive rating is 165.2, while their defensive rating is 82.2. That comes out to a whopping 83.0 net rating! Among any five-man unit that has played at least 15 minutes together in the fourth quarter in January, the Knicks have by far the best net rating.
In the second half of games in January, a lineup of Jalen Brunson, Donte DiVincenzo, OG Anunoby, Julius Randle, and Isaiah Hartenstein have played 73 minutes together so far. With an offensive rating of 142.4 and a defensive rating of 108.3, their net comes out to 34.1. Once again, no other five-man unit comes close to the efficiency of this group.
What Kyle Lowry can bring is veteran scrappiness and playmaking. He’s also still good enough to facilitate the offense if Jalen Brunson were to miss a game or two. Lowry will most likely be bought out, and it’s a low-cost move the Knicks can make right now that would quietly upgrade a position of need.
Those other aforementioned players are hot names, but at what cost? And is it worth potentially messing with the great chemistry this group has shown?
Stefan Bondy of the NY Post is also reporting that Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau is a big fan of Gordon Hayward, and he’s another name to keep an eye on in the buyout market. The Hornets forward hasn’t played a game since December 26th and is out with a calf injury. In 25 games this season, Hayward is averaging 14.5 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 4.6 assists.