Knicks Trade Rumors: Reviewing Latest Chatter on 2021 Deadline Day

Theo SalaunCorrespondent IMarch 25, 2021

Knicks Trade Rumors: Reviewing Latest Chatter on 2021 Deadline Day

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    Elsa/Associated Press

    The NBA trade deadline is at 3 p.m. ET, and the rumors are flying, particularly for the New York Knicks. In a resurgent season, the Big Apple's front office is hoping to maintain the team's fruitful chemistry while planting seeds for the future.

    Playmaking, depth and shooting are consistent areas of need for the Knicks. At 22-22, holding sixth in the Eastern Conference, New York's new identity has made those needs less dire, but they remain present. A mix of young players finding their footing and veteran players gradually losing a step, the trade deadline and offseason free agency are chances to bolster an improving roster.

    Understandably, most of the trade targets mentioned over the past couple of weeks have centered on those areas. Players like the New Orleans Pelicans' Lonzo Ball and Toronto Raptors' Norman Powell have emerged as serious candidates. 

    More surprisingly, underutilized Cleveland Cavaliers center Andre Drummond appears to have entered the fold as well—and the organization, like the fans, seems to have mixed feelings about that.

Mixed Feelings About Andre Drummond

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    Tony Dejak/Associated Press

    Mitchell Robinson burst onto center stage for the Knicks in 2018, prompting hopes that the 22-year-old would man Madison Square Garden's paint for years to come. Then, the Knicks drafted Obi Toppin eighth overall in 2020, solidifying a promising young frontcourt.

    But Robinson continues to deal with injuries (he has yet to play a full game this season) and Toppin has fallen out of rotation in his rookie year. In that context, The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor reports that a new big man could be on the horizon: Drummond. 

    While the 27-year-old tumbled out of Cleveland's plans and hasn't played in a game since early February, he was productive in his minutes prior. Averaging 17.5 points, 13.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game, Drummond is a legitimate presence. But his skill set is redundant in light of Robinson's standing with the team, and that is why SNY's Ian Begley reports that "a majority of [the] organization doesn't see Drummond as a fit."

    An unrestricted free agent at the end of this season, Drummond could be available to the Knicks months from now without needing to give up assets. It's possible the team acquires him now for stability in a playoff run considering Robinson and Toppin's respective injury and development issues, but that seems like an unlikely use of assets.

Tentative Interest in Norman Powell

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Free agency should be explosive this offseason, as the most frequently discussed trade targets tend to be on ending contracts. The Raptors' Powell is one such player, but his skills are a better match for New York's current needs.

    Alec Burks, continuing his career renaissance, has been a godsend for the Knicks as a bench wing who hits 40.4 percent from deep (better than any Knick who finished the season with the team in 2020). But the shooting void is too large for one bench player to fill, and that's where Powell, who is averaging 19.5 points per game (on 43.4 percent from range), would fit in.

    The New York Post's Marc Berman reports that Powell is indeed on "the list of persons of interest" for the New York front office. But, expected to opt out and become an unrestricted free agent this summer, the Knicks "would prefer assurances he would re-sign if they make a move." 

    There are a lot of moving parts, but New York could buy in before the deadline if the cost is right.

Lonzo Ball: Waiting on the Point Guard of the Future?

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    Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

    Like Drummond and Powell, Ball will hit free agency this offseason. But he will be a restricted free agent, and that puts some pressure on interested general managers.

    The question for New York is whether or not Ball is worth the long-term investment. On the persuasive side, at 23 years old, Ball is averaging 14.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 5.6 assists while shooting a career-high 38.5 percent from three (on a career-high 7.8 attempts per game). Those are exciting, intriguing numbers.

    On the dissuasive side, there are questions about the ceiling of Ball's progress as a shooter (although he has improved his three-point percentage in each of his four seasons)—and there's likely some hope that the upsurging Immanuel Quickley could be that point-guard cornerstone. 

    Additionally, Begley reports that Ball will be interested in New York as a free agent. Consequently, noting a reluctance to give up major assets or disrupt team chemistry, Begley's sources indicate that the Knicks aren't being aggressive in pursuit of Ball, but instead are "keeping an eye on the price that it would take to trade for" him.