2018 NBA Trade Deadline: Ranking Which NY Knicks Are Most Likely to Be Dealt
The New York Knicks do not plan to sell the farm or the future at the NBA trade deadline, according to the latest scuttlebutt from ESPN's Ian Begley. Management is still holding out hope for a playoff run, despite being gutted by the undermanned Boston Celtics, 103-73, Wednesday.
The front office might make an exception, on one condition, according to Basketball Insiders' Steve Kyler.
New York might swap this summer's first-round draft pick if it allows the team to trade Joakim Noah, who is still owed $55 million through 2019-20 and officially agreed Friday to remain on an indefinite leave of absence, per Begley.
So where does the nigh-immovable Noah rank among the expiring contracts, reliable backups, playoff-experienced veterans, young talents and mythical creatures wearing New York jerseys lined up on the trade block?
The safe money is on nobody in a Knicks uniform moving anywhere by 3 p.m. ET on Feb. 8, but if you still want to lay down bets or prepare tearful goodbye messages in advance, read on to decide how to set your priorities.
No Way, No How, Not Moving
15. Ron Baker: A week ago, Ron Baker's versatility, energy, defense, hustle and grace under pressure might have made him appealing to a playoff-bound team seeking a backup guard. However, a newly dislocated shoulder and the associated torn labrum might mean he's out for the season, and it certainly puts him out of trade consideration.
14. Kristaps Porzingis: Phil Jackson may have whispered of trading Kristaps Porzingis before he departed, and some of the more creative Knicks fans will continue to float this idea on the ludicrous premise that something as valuable as a 22-year-old All-Star could surely be traded for someone young and talented.
The newer front office led by Scott Perry will undoubtedly recognize that KP's value is something to be treasured, not pawned off.
13. Tim Hardaway Jr.: Although most teams are hot for athletic wings right now, Tim Hardaway Jr.'s injuries and $51 million contract make him an unlikely trade target. Besides, the Knicks seem to love the spirit of their "angry grandpa" and are patient with the body that comes with him.
12. Trey Burke: The Knicks were playing keep-away when they signed Trey Burke out of the G-League before the rest of the league could grab him. However, Burke's probably played well enough that the Knicks will want to hold on to him, even if other teams continue to express interest.
11. Frank Ntilikina: While teams' interest may be piqued by Frank Ntilikina's defense, the Knicks are unlikely to cut bait on their rookie midway through his first season. The fact that Ntilikina has played well while sharing the floor with Burke works in his favor.
They Wouldn't...or Would They?
10. Enes Kanter: Certainly an All-Star trash-talker, Enes Kanter has also shown his value with offensive rebounding and slick post maneuvers. Although it is already hard to imagine the Knicks without his perfectly New York personality, he might be exciting to a low-efficiency team that needs a one-man clean-up crew.
9. Lance Thomas: A Knick for three years, Lance Thomas has now been wearing the uniform longer than anyone else on the squad.
He's co-captain of the team, was given the job of introducing the new Nike City Edition jerseys that honor NYC firefighters and ended his speech by wishing good luck to "our neighbors the Brooklyn Nets."
The organization and the team have high regard for Thomas, and it would be a surprise to see him moved. Yet a veteran defender who can help others jell and provide security is the sort of thing other teams notice.
The Oklahoma City Thunder, trying to fill the gap of injured Andre Roberson, might, for example, give Thomas a glance, and if offered the right price, the Knicks could consider a deal.
8. Doug McDermott: Call him "McBuckets" if you will, but Doug McDermott has proved to observers he is more than just a three-baller this season—particularly when paired with a hot-ticket item Kyle O'Quinn.
He'd sweeten any deal for O'Quinn, and he could provide teams plenty of value alone with his quick cuts and ability to score from anywhere. Since Tim Hardaway returned to the lineup, McDermott's minutes have dropped, and the Knicks could be open to offers.
7. Damyean Dotson: There might not be calls made specifically to move the three-and-D rookie, but Damyean Dotson could easily be bundled in to sweeten a deal or balance out salaries.
6. Jarrett Jack: Playoff teams always want more depth at the point if they can get it. A veteran on a teeny-tiny expiring contract like Jarrett Jack could be appetizing, even if he doesn't burn up the stat sheet.
The Knicks signed Jack to a guaranteed contract for the full season when the team appeared to be on the upswing. Since then, they slumped into a mid-winter sludge and signed Trey Burke, so Jack might now be less essential to the Knicks front office.
5. Joakim Noah
Where there's a will, there's a way.
If the Knicks lose precious draft picks over this, don't blame Noah or even Perry or Steve Mills. Save your blazing ire for Jackson and Jeff Hornacek. Jackson created a difficult situation; Hornacek made it an impossible situation.
The contract for Noah was too high and too long, yes, but that's not the whole problem. Noah underperformed last year largely because he was playing hurt. After surgery, he made an error in judgment by taking an over-the-counter banned substance to heal faster and quiet the critics who were calling him the owner of the worst contract in history.
He served his suspension. Upon his return, neither the starting job nor backup spot were available to him. Despite always being the go-to guy for the inactive list—while Willy Hernangomez, rookie Damyean Dotson and soon-to-be released Ramon Sessions always made the active roster—he gamely cheered on his teammates in street clothes.
Only on Dec. 30 vs. the New Orleans Pelicans did Noah get any meaningful time. Playing the final 13 minutes, he helped power the Knicks past the dominant frontcourt of DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis to a 105-103 victory in a performance Jack called "phenomenal." Even Hornacek said he was "happy for Jo that he played the way he did" and that it was "a big lift."
So impressed was Hornacek that he gave Noah a whopping two minutes the following game. Then none the next 10.
He sat when they went to Chicago, where he played most of his career. He sat when the Knicks were desperate for defense, when the matchups were perfect for him and even when the Knicks met the Pelicans again and fell to Anthony Davis' 48 points.
So it was no wonder, really, that Noah lost his cool when Hornacek dropped him into the Golden State Warriors' matchup for a mere four minutes and 31 seconds and then yanked him again.
By denying Noah an opportunity to play, Hornacek denied him a chance to earn a role on the team, earn that fat paycheck, earn back fans' respect or, at the least, showcase some skills that would be valuable to another team looking for a center.
Hornacek not only failed his player as a coach, he failed his organization, by actively reducing Noah's value as a trade asset.
4. Courtney Lee
The Knicks would be fools to trade Courtney Lee.
But that doesn't mean they won't.
Lee is an iron man who has played every game, averages the most minutes and makes each one of them count. He harasses every opponent who dares to drive the lane and harasses every teammate who fails to defend it (in a nice way).
He will force the clutch steal that flips momentum and sink the bucket that forces overtime. He is versatile, energetic, reliable and the right combination of veteran calm and rugged intensity that any playoff-bound team wants to round out their bench, if not fill a starting role.
Teams are approaching the Knicks with interest in Lee, per Marc Berman of the New York Post, for all of these reasons. He is contracted through 2019-20 and is a core part of the Knicks roster, so moving him is no small decision for either team.
But if the Knicks receive legitimate offers, it could be too difficult for them to look the other way.
3. Michael Beasley
A "walking bucket" on a tiny, expiring contract is a dream come true for any playoff-bound team that needs a boost in scoring.
Everybody has to secretly want a piece of Michael Beasley, even if they haven't asked the Knicks for him yet.
The Knicks love Beasley, and the fans shouting "MVP" certainly do. But there's no guarantee he'll re-sign. Money could be a factor now that he's spent the season making a case for a real NBA paycheck—not the one-year, $2.1 million he's earning now.
If New York gives up their playoff hopes and thinks Beas will walk in the offseason, they might swap your favorite player's favorite player now.
2. Kyle O'Quinn
Forcing a spirited Queens native to remove his New York jersey and head elsewhere seems like courting bad luck. However, the Golden State Warriors might persuade the Knicks to let go of Kyle O'Quinn with shiny gifts and reminders of that logjam at the center position.
ESPN's Begley suggested the Warriors and others are among the suitors.
Interest in O'Quinn is well-deserved. There aren't many big men who can deliver powerful denials on one end of the floor and sugar-sweet passes on the other—not to mention be rough on the court but grinning goofballs with teammates on the sidelines.
The offers are there, and if the price is right, the Knicks might let O'Quinn go—but their playoff hopes for the year might go with him.
1. Willy Hernangomez
Limited minutes have prevented Hernangomez's stat lines from sparkling, but his post maneuvers are still pretty enough to inspire a girl to take up ballroom dancing.
Across the league, teams admire Hernangomez's youth, rebounding and ability to score a point a minute (when he's not electric sliding his way into a moving screen violation), per Begley. Whether they're on the prowl for an extra scorer in a long season or a core piece of a rebuilding squad, Hernangomez fits the bill for several teams.
He might be Kristaps Porzingis' best friend, but Porzingis isn't paying his salary. So, if the right deal for Hernangomez comes along, he'll be the most likely Knick tap-dancing his way off of Broadway before next week.
Disagree with Sara Peters on Twitter @3FromThe7.