Knicks Rumors: Trade Buzz Surrounding Lonzo Ball, Victor Oladipo and More

Theo SalaunCorrespondent IMarch 24, 2021

Knicks Rumors: Trade Buzz Surrounding Lonzo Ball, Victor Oladipo and More

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    Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

    It has already been a sweet season in the Big Apple, but things could get a little spicy by Thursday's trade deadline. As the big day nears, trade talks continue to involve the revamped New York Knicks.

    Last season, New York finished 21-45, well out of the playoffs. This season, the Knicks have already eclipsed that win mark and sit in the seventh seed with a 22-22 record. SNY's Ian Begley reported that, content with the team's progress, "New York is unlikely to trade major assets for a top player."

    Even if the team's best players and top picks will be difficult to pry away, the Knicks are still involved in discussions. Begley noteed that Austin Rivers could be moved and certain trade targets could be in play should prices drop far enough.

    Right now, the New Orleans Pelicans' Lonzo Ball and Houston Rockets' Victor Oladipo top the list of potential new Knicks, alongside candidates such as the Orlando Magic's Evan Fournier and Charlotte Hornets' Devonte' Graham.

Weighing Lonzo's Cost

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    Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

    As the popular saying goes, "if you build it, they will come." Well, New York has most certainly started building its, and the expression may explain its reluctance to move for Ball right now.

    As Begley reported, the Knicks don't want to disrupt their current chemistry. Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report also reported, "a segment of the Knicks front office … are against surrendering draft capital now for any player they could presumably sign this summer."

    Ball, a 23-year-old disproving his doubters in a major way this season, becomes a restricted free agent this offseason and could be available without New York needing to spend their coveted draft picks (including the 2021 first-rounder from the Dallas Mavericks). 

    Already a renowned ball-handler and defender, Ball is shooting a career-high 38.5 percent from three this season while taking a career-high 7.8 of them per game. He would be an excellent fit for New York's future, but it's unclear if the team is willing to match New Orleans' price point.

    So far, an impasse seems to have been reached, with sports writer Mike Mazzeo reporting that New York is still looking for a third team to absorb Eric Bledsoe's contract in any deal for Lonzo.

Avoiding Oladipo's Cost

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    Troy Taormina/Associated Press

    For weeks, New York's interest in Oladipo has circulated. And that appears to be mutual, as ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Knicks are another team Dipo is enticed by (after the preferred Miami Heat).

    At 28 years old, Oladipo has proved the heights of his play and the potency of his offensive panache. His playmaking and shot-making would be an obvious boon to New York's ceiling. 

    But Oladipo could have a positive impact for any team and, as such, his asking price has remained quite high. Like Ball, the guard is a free agent this offseason. Unlike Ball, he will be unrestricted in the market. Considering New York's aforementioned reluctance to give up serious assets, the team is likely to wait until this offseason to make a push for the former Indiana Pacers star.

The Cheaper Options: Fournier and Graham

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    Nell Redmond/Associated Press

    New York's tribulations beyond the arc have become a consistent theme, despite the team's sharp improvements this season. 

    It should therefore be no surprise that two gunners are on the wish list this trade season. Begley reported that there have been discussions with the Magic about Fournier, while Fischer reported interest in Graham. Interestingly, both are free agents this offseason as well (Fournier, unrestricted; Graham, restricted), but their trade costs should be considerably lower than Ball or Oladipo's. 

    Over the past two seasons, Fournier has averaged 18.7 points with a 39.4-percent clip from deep (on 6.7 attempts per game). Graham has averaged 16.5 with a 37.1-percent clip from beyond (on 8.7 attempts). Both are a strong fit for New York's needs and, if the price is right, could be worth assessing within the team's system prior to a contract offer this offseason.