If there was any slight glimmer of hope that the New York Knicks could make a late-season run for the playoffs, it evaporated on Sunday when they lost at home to the 16-37 Atlanta Hawks, who are co-owners of the NBA's worst win-loss record.
New York is six games back in the loss column to the last team in the playoff field (the Philadelphia 76ers), and it's clear the team should trade some of its players before the 3 p.m. ET trade deadline on Thursday.
Here's a look at some chatter surrounding a few names.
Backup center Willy Hernangomez should have a new home by the weekend.
According to Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports, the 23-year-old center has requested a trade:
Hernangomez flashed in his rookie season last year—per Basketball Reference, he averaged 16.0 points and 13.6 rebounds per 36 minutes. He did not play that much during the year (18.4 minutes a night), but when given an extended run, he excelled.
Over a 12-game stretch between March 8 and March 31, the Spaniard nearly posted an almost double-double average by scoring 11.5 points and 9.9 boards per game. That included a 24-point, 13-rebound effort at San Antonio.
While Hernangomez' defense needs improvement (per ESPN, he finished 52nd out of 68 qualified centers in defensive real plus-minus last year), he's a 23-year-old big man who has showcased impressive scoring and rebound skills.
However, he has fallen to the bottom of the pack in a center logjam this year, as he's lost playing time to Enes Kanter and Kyle O'Quinn. He's averaged just 9.2 minutes per game, many of which come in garbage time.
It will be interesting to see what Hernangomez does if he gets extended opportunities with another team. Could he develop into a long-term center for someone sooner rather than later?
One of the few bright spots in what has become another lost Knicks season has been the newly acquired (and well-traveled) Michael Beasley, who has averaged 12.5 points and 5.1 boards in 19.5 minutes per game.
Knicks fans can breathe a sigh of relief, then, as Stefon Bondy of the New York Daily News reported the 29-year-old likely isn't going anywhere:
"There hasn't been much interest in Beasley and, even if there was, the Knicks think very highly of a player that has exceeded expectations. Player development VP Craig Robinson is especially big on Beasley and the Knicks may even dip into their mid level to re-sign him over the summer."
Beasley provides excellent depth off the bench, like when he scored 32 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in 25 minutes against the Boston Celtics. He can also start in a pinch and become the Knicks' No. 1 scoring option in the absence of All-Star forward Kristaps Porzingis, like when he scored 30 against the Houston Rockets.
He's never been known for his defensive efforts (per ESPN, Beasley's defensive plus-minus is -1.29), but he's not in New York to be a lockdown defender. He's done an excellent job serving as a volume scorer off the bench and should be on the team next year.
Jarrett Jack and Kyle O'Quinn
Fred Kerber of the New York Post quoted an anonymous scout who had the following to say about starting point guard Jarrett Jack and backup center Kyle O'Quinn:
"There are two guys on their team that are available that people would want: Jack and [Kyle] O'Quinn. If they deal O'Quinn, that gives [Willy] Hernangomez an opportunity. If they deal Jack, you've still got Frank and Trey, two young guys, to play the point."
Jack, who has carved out a 13-year NBA career and once led Georgia Tech to the 2004 NCAA men's basketball championship game, is averaging 7.8 points and 6.1 assists per game in 26.6 minutes this season.
Although Jack has been an excellent mentor to 2017 first-round pick Frank Ntilikina, it's possible he could be a better fit elsewhere for a team looking for a veteran presence and additional point guard depth.
Center O'Quinn is like a combination of the aforementioned Hernangomez and Beasley: He's a big man off the bench (like Hernangomez) and one of those guys who can stuff the stat sheet in limited time on the floor (like Beasley and Hernangomez).
His per-36 numbers are impressive. Per Basketball Reference, O'Quinn averages 14.3 points and 12.2 boards on that front. Although he is a hit on the New York Bar Mitzvah scene, it's possible he has a new home soon as well.