Knicks' Complete Guide to 2021 NBA Trade Deadline

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistMarch 11, 2021

Knicks' Complete Guide to 2021 NBA Trade Deadline

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    The New York Knicks have had trouble getting ahead of themselves at previous NBA trade deadlines.

    Should they make a win-now purchase between now and the March 25 deadline, though, that wouldn't necessarily be the case.

    This roster is legitimately competitive. There are a number of factors contributing to that, the key ones being Julius Randle's All-Star ascension, the impact of new head coach Tom Thibodeau and the production of up-and-comers like sophomore RJ Barrett and rookie Immanuel Quickley.

    The roster is young enough that selective selling off of veteran rentals shouldn't be off the table, though if the goal is maximizing competitiveness for this campaign then the 'Bockers will land among the buyers.

    Here's where everything stands for the Knicks in the heart of trade season.


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    Nell Redmond/Associated Press

    New York's second-ranked defense—by far Thibodeau's biggest accomplishment—looks ready for the postseason. The same cannot be said of its 23rd-ranked attack.

    The Knicks need more scoring threats. Randle (23.2) and Barrett (16.5) are their only players clearing 13 points per contest. Derrick Rose has added some juice (12.5), but there's only so much they can ask from a 32-year-old with an injury history as long as his.

    In a similar vein, shot-creation isn't a strength of this roster, either. Randle paces the club with just 5.5 assists per outing—a great mark for a power forward, but a less impressive one for a team leader. Rose (4.9) and Elfrid Payton (3.7) are the only other players dropping three dimes a night. Overall, New York ranks 29th in both assists per game (21.2) and assist percentage (54.3).

    Finally, the Knicks could use a volume increase in their perimeter arsenal. The Knicks aren't a bad three-point shooting team in terms of percentage (37.2), but they're second-to-last in both triples (10.3) and attempts (27.8).


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    John Minchillo/Associated Press

    New York has the trade capital to make anything from a cannonball-sized splash to a small ripple ahead of the deadline.

    Assuming the Knicks hold onto their top-shelf prospects like Barrett, Quickley and Mitchell Robinson (as they should), their top two assets are draft picks and financial flexibility.

    On the draft front, they own all of their upcoming first-round picks, plus firsts from the Dallas Mavericks this year (unprotected) and in 2023 (top-10 protected). In addition, they have all of their future seconds minus this year's selection along. They're also owed a 2021 second-rounder from the Detroit Pistons and future seconds from Detroit (2023), the Utah Jazz (2023), Utah or the Cleveland Cavaliers (2024) and the Minnesota Timberwolves (2026).

    In terms of finances, the Knicks still had about $15 million in cap space after the Rose trade, per The Athletic's Danny Leroux. With just $32.2 million in guaranteed money on next season's books, they have the wiggle room to take on bloated contracts in exchange for assets. Saying that, any money added now is money they could no longer use in 2021 free agency.

    Finally, if they go the selective-selling route, they might be able to drum up interest in veteran rentals like Alec Burks, Reggie Bullock, Nerlens Noel and Austin Rivers (non-guaranteed salaries for 2021-22 and 2022-23). They could also poke around to see if there are any takers for non-rotation youngsters like Kevin Knox II and Frank Ntilikina.

Potential Targets

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    This boils down to how high the Knicks would like to aim, because they have the trade artillery to make a run at just about anyone.

    If there are sweepstakes held for Bradley Beal or Zach LaVine, New York can't be ruled out. Whether the Washington Wizards and Chicago Bulls seek picks, prospects, financial relief or all of the above, the Knicks can scratch those itches. Their previously stated need for more shot-creation would be instantly addressed with either one.

    The Knicks reportedly have interest in Victor Oladipo, per B/R's A. Sherrod Blakely, but the former All-Star should arguably be avoided without a deeply discounted price tag. Oladipo will be an unrestricted free agent at season's end, and he's still knocking off the rust from—or just not the same after—the torn quadriceps tendon he suffered in Jan. 2019.

    If New York seeks plug-and-play veterans, then sharpshooter JJ Redick and combo guard George Hill could be on the radar. If the Knicks take the longer view with roster construction, then chasing a young restricted-free-agent-to-be like John Collins, Lonzo Ball, Devonte' Graham or Talen Horton-Tucker might be options.


    Statistics used courtesy of Basketball-Reference and Salary information obtained via Basketball Insiders.