As tomorrow’s trade deadline approaches, lots of speculation remains about whether the New York Knicks will make a big swing, look for a utility player, or do nothing at all.
For The Athletic, Tony Jones writes ($) that Jordan Clarkson is likely to stay put in Utah. Although the Knicks need scoring off the bench and are reportedly interested in Clarkson’s skills–he’s averaging 17 points per game this season, but shooting 28% from downtown–they may find his salary to be prohibitive.
Clarkson is in the first year of a three-year, $51 million deal and is making $23 million this season. It’s difficult for teams to match that number. The Knicks have shooting guard Evan Fournier’s expiring contract to dangle, and the Knicks need Clarkson’s ability to score off the bench. More importantly, Clarkson can create an offensive advantage off the bench.
If the Knicks don’t pursue Clarkson, another playoff-bound team might step forward, but it sounds unlikely. Overall, he’s still a trade candidate but not as prominent as Kelly Olynyk, whom the Knicks are also (reportedly) interested in, but who also has multiple suitors.
Also in The Athletic, Fred Katz reports on the Knicks’ thinking as the trade deadline looms (February 8). The Knicks, despite recent success, are facing exhaustion due to overplayed starters, leading to concerns about fourth-quarter performance. Katz writes that Leon Rose & Co. are seeking an “innings eater” before the trade deadline to reduce the workload on the starters. The team’s priority remains finding a player to complement Jalen Brunson and provide relief minutes.
Even with injuries to the four aforementioned players, the Knicks continue to win. They are 15-3 since the New Year. Second place in the Eastern Conference is within shouting distance. But the way the past few games have gone is a reminder that they could use an innings eater, someone to burn 20 to 25 minutes so that the rest of the group isn’t gassed by February’s fourth quarters, let alone May’s.
Katz’s sources indicate that a trade involving Quentin Grimes has become increasingly unlikely. New York has shown little interest in offers. Their objective remains unchanged: to utilize Grimes to acquire a valuable long-term asset.
The Knicks have spoken with the Toronto Raptors about Bruce Brown, league sources have said, but Grimes hasn’t been part of those conversations. Instead, discussions have centered around Evan Fournier and draft compensation for Brown, who could eat innings like a Liván Hernández impersonator.
Katz calls New York’s discussions with Atlanta about Dejounte Murray “informal.” This stood out in the article: “Make no mistake: The culture that has emerged in this locker room is not lost on the organization…What the front office doesn’t want to acquire is someone whose personality doesn’t mesh.” Hallelujah!
Ian Begley (SNY) reported yesterday, “Alec Burks is still on New York’s radar at the moment. The Knicks can offer Detroit draft compensation and a package of players to get Burks. [...] I would expect New York and Detroit to remain engaged on Burks as we get closer to Thursday at 3 p.m.” We shall see. The Athletic reports that Detroit is inclined to hold onto him through the deadline.
Recently, it was revealed that the Knicks have repaired their relationship with Klutch Sports, led by superagent Rich Paul. This reconciliation, reportedly arranged by Knicks president Leon Rose, resolved past tensions and opened doors for potential future dealings. According to Sam Amick (also of The Athletic), the tension between Klutch and the Knicks had something to do with New York’s handling of Cam Reddish.
Rose, to review, was Paul’s mentor at Creative Artists Agency and James’ former agent before they both departed to build Klutch Sports. This development matters, of course, because it had become a major obstacle for the Knicks whenever they considered the prospect of adding Klutch Sports clients. [...] A major part of the issue, as is widely known in league circles, was the way the Knicks handled Cam Reddish, a Klutch client, during his short and unsuccessful time there from 2022 to 2023. Reddish has since become a pivotal part of the Lakers rotation (he has been out since late January with an ankle injury).
Amick’s article gets into LeBron’s influence in L.A. and over their push for a Dejounte Murray Trade. As Steve Popper wrote for NY Newsday, LeBron’s recent visit to Madison Square Garden stirred up speculation about Knicks’ trade possibilities ahead of the deadline, but it’s just smoke. Popper predicts that the Knicks’ focus at the trade deadline will be on minor roster adjustments—guys like Alec Burks, Malcolm Brogdon, or Tyus Jones. With a solid record and promising performances, the urgency for major acquisitions has diminished. Per Popper:
The need for Dejounte Murray, whom Atlanta has dangled, has been erased by the play of Donte DiVincenzo. The Knicks have been tight-lipped about the status of Julius Randle as he rehabs his dislocated right shoulder, but it seems as if his time on the sideline will be measured in weeks, not months, eliminating the need for a star-level replacement.
However . . . one last note about LeBron . . . at his substack today, Tom Haberstroh posited a theory that Rich Paul may have urged the Knicks to clear cap space for LeBron to potentially sign with them in the upcoming offseason. The theory is founded on LeBron’s non-committal stance regarding his player option, and the Knicks would need to offload contracts like those of Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson to accommodate James’ potential signing. It’s a theory, anyway.
Over at the NY Post, Stefan Bondy reported that Mitchell Robinson, on hiatus while recovering from ankle surgery, is progressing well in his recovery from ankle surgery. He is expected to start on-court shooting post-All-Star break. Bondy included this quote from coach Tom Thibodeau:
“You do the rehab part, you’re in the pool, you’re on the [anti-gravity treadmill], you’re lifting, doing that sort of thing,” the coach said. “Then they’ll clear him to get on the court with form shooting, that sort of thing. Then they’ll progress to the running part, the jumping part, then you start off one-on-zero, then one-on-one, then two-on-two, so there’s a progression to it, to where you get to the five-on-five and then you’re cleared for practice.”
Despite initial projections that he would miss the remainder of the season, Robinson’s rehabilitation appears to have him on track for playoff availability. Hallelujah, again! As for OG Anunoby’s injury, Thibs is relying on what he hears from the medical team. Per Bondy, “Thibodeau added that Anunoby hasn’t been participating in shootarounds but he doesn’t know the specific injury that’s sidelining the forward, since inflammation is only a symptom.”
Whatever happens, expect lots more chatter as we approach tomorrow’s trade deadline. So far today, Adrian Wojnarowski has reported that former Knick Kevin Knox is on the move, heading to Utah as part of a Detroit deal for Simone Fonteccio. Not exactly blockbuster stuff, but it’s news:
Kevin Knox, 2024 second-round pick via Wizards and draft rights to Gabriele Procida to go Jazz in deal, sources tell ESPN. https://t.co/GZuvVMbfcb— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 7, 2024
More to come. Go Knicks!