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Knicks Rumors: Latest Buzz on Lonzo Ball, Norman Powell, More

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IApril 28, 2021

New York Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau gestures during the second half against the Charlotte Hornets in an NBA basketball game Tuesday, April 20, 2021, in New York. (Sarah Stier/Pool Photo via AP)
Sarah Stier/Associated Press

The New York Knicks are closing in on their first appearance in the NBA playoffs since 2013. They missed the postseason every year from 2014-20 and had six head coaches during that span.

This season, New York is 34-28 and sitting in fourth place in the Eastern Conference. It's been a turnaround performance by the Knicks, who brought in Tom Thibodeau as head coach this past offseason and have reaped the benefits immediately.

And more should be on the way. While New York's on-court performance has greatly improved from recent years, it also will likely fare better when trying to add top players in the upcoming offseason, according to Marc Stein of the New York Times.

"There have been whispers for weeks that the Knicks' flirtation with the East's No. 4 seed has helped restore their reputation to the point that star players are finally prepared to consider them a destination franchise again," Stein wrote.

So, who could New York pursue now that it may again be a desirable franchise to play for?

Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer reported Thibodeau "covets" Portland Trail Blazers guard/forward Norman Powell, who has an $11.6 million player option for the 2021-22 season. If he opts out and hits free agency, the Knicks could be among his suitors.

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The 27-year-old, who is in his sixth NBA season, is averaging a career-high 18.9 points in 58 games in 2020-21. He was traded from the Toronto Raptors to Portland on March 25.

Fischer also reported there are "many Lonzo Ball supporters within the Knicks' front office." The point guard is set to be a restricted free agent this upcoming offseason, and Fischer noted that those New York executives are likely to "lobby to sign" him to an offer sheet.

Because the 23-year-old is a restricted free agent, teams may need to arrange a sign-and-trade with the New Orleans Pelicans in order to land him, so maybe the Knicks would be in the mix to do that if they can't directly sign him.

Ball is averaging 14.1 points, 5.7 assists and 4.2 rebounds in 47 games this season, his second in New Orleans.

New York is eager to keep building off this successful season, and there are front-office members who are ready to "add more impactful talent" before the 2021-22 campaign, per Fischer. That could lead to the Knicks having more long-term success than in the recent past.

"Now the goal posts have been moved," one person with knowledge of the situation told Fischer. "Thibs isn't going to want to rebuild. He has a lot of power, and there's some momentum."

On April 7, New York was 25-27. It then won nine straight games, a streak that didn't end until Monday's loss to the Phoenix Suns. But it was a surge that boosted the Knicks in the standings and perhaps gives them even more confidence for the future.

With a strong core featuring forward Julius Randle (23.9 points and 10.4 rebounds per game) and guard RJ Barrett (17.5 points per game), New York has some solid players to build around.

Who will it be able to add to its roster in the future? We'll have to wait to see how the rest of this season plays out and what happens when the offseason arrives.

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