Knicks Trade Rumors: Rival Teams Say NY Hasn't Been 'Aggressive' Before Deadline

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMarch 13, 2021

New York Knicks Tom Thibodeau questions a call during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs in San Antonio, Tuesday, March 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Eric Gay/Associated Press

The New York Knicks have apparently learned from past mistakes and won't attempt to go all-in on clinching a playoff berth this season.

Ian Begley of SNY.tv reported the Knicks have not been "aggressive" in pursuing trades ahead of the March 25 deadline. 

The Knicks have been one of the NBA's biggest surprises, sitting at 19-19 after many expected them to be among the league's bottom feeders. Tom Thibodeau would have gotten midseason Coach of the Year consideration for his work coaching up the roster and helping turn Julius Randle into an All-Star.

While Thibodeau has typically favored an aggressive approach to immediate contention—his tenure in Minnesota saw several win-now trades, most notably the acquisition of Jimmy Butler—he does not have personnel say in New York. Thibs has regularly made it clear Knicks president Leon Rose handles personnel decisions.

"That's a Leon question," Thibodeau said when asked if the team would look to improve ahead of the deadline. "Look, I have a strong bias toward good players. I know they're looking at all the possibilities. If something makes sense for us, we'll do it. If not, I love the team that we have. I love the guys that we have on the team. We'll just keep working with what we have and Leon and Wes [Knicks senior executive William Wesley], they're combing the league. [General manager] Scott Perry, that's their job.”

The Knicks have one of the NBA's cleanest cap sheets moving forward. Randle, RJ Barrett, Obi Toppin, Kevin Knox, Immanuel Quickley, Mitchell Robinson, Austin Rivers and Ignas Brazdeikis are the only players under contract for next season; Randle is the only one who makes more than $9 million. The Knicks could have upward of $70 million in cap space and have one of the NBA's youngest rosters.

After years of toiling in mediocrity (at best), there's a chance the Knicks are finally putting together a long-term plan to return the team to contention. Keeping quiet at the deadline would be a sign the Knicks aren't going to overreact to their surprising success.