Knicks Trade Targets to Avoid at 2021 NBA Deadline

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistFebruary 11, 2021

Knicks Trade Targets to Avoid at 2021 NBA Deadline

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    The New York Knicks could be among the NBA's busiest teams between now and the March 25 trade deadline.

    Their desire to win sooner rather than later was hinted at with the hiring of head coach Tom Thibodeau and then hammered home by the recent acquisition of Derrick Rose. Should things go south before March, though, New York could shift to the seller's spot by flipping veteran rentals like Alec Burks or Reggie Bullock for rebuilding assets.

    The Knicks' mountain of cap space—roughly $18 million—can be used in several ways. If they are buying, then it becomes a tool to take on the higher-salaried contributors other clubs can't afford. If they are selling, then it's an avenue to possible draft considerations as compensation for housing another team's unwieldy contracts.

    While the possibilities seem endless, the Knicks shouldn't be in the market for everyone. The following three players, in particular, are best for the 'bockers to avoid.

DeMar DeRozan, San Antonio Spurs

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    Eric Gay/Associated Press

    New York's thirst for star power hasn't been quenched by Rose's arrival or Julius Randle's ascent. With that in mind, it would hardly be shocking if the Knicks were to kick the tires on DeMar DeRozan, who's playing out the final months of his pact with the San Antonio Spurs.

    In a vacuum, the scoring swingman seems a sensible target.

    The Knicks are slotted 25th in offensive efficiency, so they would presumably welcome a player capable of relieving some of the burden being carried by Randle and RJ Barrett. DeRozan, a nightly supplier of 20.2 points and a career-high 6.7 assists, would certainly be up to that task.

    But it would be a temporary upgrade for a team that isn't guaranteed a playoff spot and wouldn't be expected to make much noise if it secured one. That's not much of a prize. The cost could go beyond whatever would need to be sent to San Antonio to bring back DeRozan too.

    Add him to this offensive menu, and there might be too many touches going to the veterans and not enough being spent on the development of the club's long-term core.

Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    The Toronto Raptors are careening toward a crossroads with their fearless leader and floor general Kyle Lowry. While he remains a key contributor, there are some within Toronto's front office who feel it's time to split with the 34-year-old free-agent-to-be, per B/R's Jake Fischer.

    "There's a time capsule for everybody and everything, and it's probably just time to move on," a Western Conference executive told Fischer.

    Should Lowry hit the trade block, it isn't hard to imagine the Knicks being mentioned among his suitors. They have been searching for an impact point guard for forever (or at least it feels like it), and they previously made it to the goal line on a Lowry trade back in 2013 before governor James Dolan pulled the plug.

    Lowry might still make sense in the Empire State as an on-court accelerator and off-court culture-setter, but the time for a pursuit would be in free agency—not during trade season. The Knicks have too many young guards and playmakers to justify sacrificing major assets for Lowry, who would undoubtedly improve this club but not nearly to the point of championship contention.

Any Center

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    Tony Dejak/Associated Press

    The trade market could feature a plethora of post players. The Cleveland Cavaliers alone have four trade candidates in the frontcourt should they opt to sell—an increasingly likely scenario given their recent skid (2-8 in their past 10 games.

    Andre Drummond has multiple suitors, per The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor, and Larry Nance Jr. would if the Cavs make him available to the highest bidder. JaVale McGee's combination of size, length, athleticism and championship experience could all stand out to a center-needy buyer. Kevin Love has seemed available from the moment LeBron James left Northeast Ohio in 2018, provided someone can stomach the $60.2 million Love is owed beyond this season.

    If the supply outweighs the demand, that theoretically creates a buying opportunity. But the Knicks should avoid all available bigs because that might be the sturdiest spot on the roster.

    Randle is having a career season. Mitchell Robinson has further cemented his status as a long-term keeper. Nerlens Noel is rock-solid. Taj Gibson is a Thibodeau favorite. Rookie Obi Toppin, the eighth overall pick, is in desperate need of more developmental minutes.

    No matter what centers become available, the Knicks should take a hard pass on the position as a whole.


    All stats courtesy of and Basketball Reference unless otherwise noted.