As many New York Knicks fans have probably said countless times throughout the team's 70-year history, the team needs a better point guard. With the trade deadline one week away, could the front office make a deal to solve this perpetual problem?
Phil Jackson doesn't think so.
During MSG's broadcast of the Knicks' game versus the Washington Wizards on Tuesday night, Al Trautwig asked him, "What are the chances Knicks fans might have a trade to talk about before the deadline?"
Jackson's response: "Very slim opportunity for us to trade. We're looking for something, we're open to it, but it's not a pursuit."
Of course, the Knicks could sit back and wait until Russell Westbrook starts entertaining suitors during the 2017 offseason. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, the Knicks have "a real chance" at Oklahoma City's triple-double machine and "New York and [Kristaps] Porzingis have his attention."
For fans who have just witnessed a 1-10 losing skid, that seems like an awfully long time to wait.
Sounds like the Knicks execs need a little help. For their consideration, here are some more ideas on how to land a point guard who could improve the squad's fortune.
New York Knicks get: Jeff Teague (ATL)
Hawks starting point guard Jeff Teague would be the salve for some of New York's most grievous wounds.
The Knicks are league basement-dwellers when it comes to fast-break scoring and points in the paint. Yet for all Atlanta's struggles this season, the Hawks are still top 10 in both categories thanks in large part to Teague's direction and personal efforts.
Plus, he shoots 84.9 percent from the free-throw line. It's a place the Knicks don't visit nearly enough, but Teague sees it 3.9 times per game.
Atlanta is open to deals for him and other key players because it hasn't recaptured the magic of last year's 60-win season. Chris Mannix of The Vertical first mentioned Teague was up for grabs in January, and ESPN.com's Ian Begley quickly reported that New York had expressed interest.
Sadly, the Knicks can't get him without giving up one of their best assets.
That means losing Arron Afflalo, a high-performance (usually) guard on both sides of the court who could give the Hawks some stability during a shake-up.
It also means losing rookie point guard Jerian Grant, who could appeal to Atlanta during a restructuring because of his youth, run-and-gun style of play and inexpensive, long-term contract. He's at worst an insurance policy for rebuilding around incumbent Dennis Schroder.
This would, of course, solve one backcourt problem for New York while creating another. Langston Galloway could move to the starting shooting guard position (as a short- or long-term solution), but the bench would be slim.
A second unit of Jose Calderon and Sasha Vujacic doesn't exactly send shivers of exhilaration down one's spine.
Therefore, filling in the 2-spot will once again be on the to-do list. The front office could call up sharpshooter Jimmer Fredette from the team's D-League affiliate, the Westchester Knicks, but chances are the team would have to address the issue in a subsequent trade or on the free market in the offseason.
New York Knicks get: Jrue Holiday (NOP), Kenneth Faried (DEN)
New Orleans Pelicans get: Danilo Gallinari (DEN), Kyle O'Quinn (NYK)
Denver Nuggets get: Eric Gordon (NOP), Derrick Williams (NYK), Jose Calderon (NYK), Kevin Seraphin (NYK), NOP 2016 first-round pick, NYK 2018 first-round pick
The 20-33 Pelicans are beginning to perk up, but it's still hard to believe they're the same team that once led the Golden State Warriors by 20 points during the first round of the 2014-15 playoffs (before falling to a classic Warriors comeback).
The team has been lacking at the small forward position since Trevor Ariza left, and John Reid of NOLA.com reported last month that New Orleans was interested in getting the Sacramento Kings' Rudy Gay to fix the problem.
The Denver Nuggets' Danilo Gallinari could be another option. He's costing the 22-32 Nuggets plenty (another $15.5 million next year), but they only have him for one more season before his player option kicks in—not enough time for them to develop into a true contender.
Instead of wasting that talent, Denver may want to get value for Gallo now and build around Emmanuel Mudiay and Nikola Jokic with a couple of young pieces and draft picks.
If the Nuggets really want to make that rebuild work, they'll swap Kenneth Faried's lengthy contract (he's guaranteed through 2018-19) for expiring or short contracts plus draft picks.
Although Holiday is still a key part of the Pelicans' squad, he's been moved out of the starting lineup in favor of Norris Cole. New Orleans might be willing to move him to make room for an improvement at its weakest spot.
For the Knicks, yes, it hurts to lose Derrick Williams and that first-rounder, but they're not really giving up much for the talent they're getting in return.
Holiday is averaging 15.0 points, 5.5 assists, 2.9 rebounds, and 1.2 steals per game coming off the bench. He excels at the dribble-drive and spends a lot of time at the free-throw line—as stated earlier, a place the Knicks don't visit often enough.
The Manimal could play off the bench or in the starting lineup at the 4-spot with Porzingis at the 5. He adds muscle, flair and 8.9 rebounds per game. The big paycheck (about $13.8 million in the final year) won't seem so steep by 2018-19, when the salary cap has increased.
New York Knicks get: Derrick Rose (CHI)
Boston Celtics get: Nikola Mirotic (CHI), Jerian Grant (NYK)
Chicago Bulls get: Jose Calderon (NYK), Marcus Smart (BOS), second-round pick from Boston, Kyle O'Quinn (NYK), Sasha Vujacic (NYK), Kevin Seraphin (NYK), James Young (BOS)
OK, before you jump down my throat screaming about Derrick Rose's hollow bones and annoying desire to have a life after basketball, consider this: He has only missed seven games this season.
And many of you who rail against him are slobbering for Russell Westbrook, who hasn't missed a game yet this year. But lest you forget, he only played 113 of the 164 games in the two previous seasons because of injuries.
Rose's season started out in wobbly fashion since he was playing through double vision after a facial fracture suffered during preseason.
While his team has struggled, though, Rose is often one of the few things functioning on the Bulls. During the last 15 games, he's averaging 18.7 points, 4.5 assists, 4.4 rebounds, shooting 42.6 percent and looking dynamic.
Nevertheless, the team is in freefall. Jimmy Butler is injured and still out for another two to three weeks. Joakim Noah is gone for the season. Mike Dunleavy only has three games under his belt after returning from offseason back issues. Head coach Fred Hoiberg has been publicly criticized by his star player, Butler.
With no identity, the Bulls have lost 10 of their last 15 and tumbled from near the top of the standings to one game shy of being out of the playoffs entirely.
What better time to offer a deal for their starting point guard?
It's a bit of a gamble, but Rose is 27 years old and only has one more year on his contract, so if it doesn't work out, it only costs the Knicks another $20 million and some fringe players.
And let's remember, these are the Knicks. Usually when they sign a star point guard with a history of injuries, it's when he's closer to 37 for a contract that's closer to five years. This is comparatively cautious.
For the Bulls, the big value is unloading Rose and starting fresh. However, they also get two new point guards—a seasoned vet in Calderon and a promising youngblood in Marcus Smart—and some of Boston's vast store of draft picks from which to find the next Butler.
The tricky bit will be convincing Boston. It's high on Smart, and rightly so, but hopefully it'll be persuaded that Jerian Grant will make a satisfactory addition.
The C's would certainly benefit from Mirotic, who had a superb start to the season—his beautiful downtown stroke earned him a spot in the starting five—but like most Bulls players has flagged as the year's gone on.
The trouble is Mirotic cannot currently pass a physical because he's just had an appendectomy. Boston would have to waive that formality.
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