Knicks Rumors: Latest on Damian Lillard Trade Buzz, Other NY Offseason Targets
The New York Knicks didn't land superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving last offseason, but they are still pushing their way into the postseason. Currently sitting in the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference, New York is beginning to look like a threat.
With Julius Randle and RJ Barrett emerging as legitimate stars, the Knicks could become a prime destination in the offseason. The front office will look to capitalize.
"There is some cohort of Knicks decision-makers who are eager to build on this ensuing playoff appearance, sources said, and will push to add more impactful talent for next year's postseason run," Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer wrote.
Who might New York target this offseason? Let's take a look at some of the latest buzz.
Knicks Waiting to See If Lillard Becomes Available
One player the Knicks could pursue on the trade market—should be become available—is Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard.
There's no guarantee he will try making his way out of Portland, but Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes believes Lillard could be growing impatient.
"Simply put, Lillard has not received the help he needs to win a title in this era," Haynes wrote. "As he turns 31 this summer, and considering all he's done for the franchise, a more aggressive, risky approach is needed in order to pair him with another bona fide star."
It seems that New York may also view this to be the case. According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, the Knicks are prepared to pounce if Lillard does wind up on the trade block this offseason.
The Knicks are gearing up to be heavy hitters either on the trade market or in free agency this summer—with point guard their top priority—and they have their antennae up regarding the status of Portland superstar Damian Lillard," Berman wrote.
The Trail Blazers are in seventh place in the Western Conference.
Knicks Weren't Interested in Making In-Season Deals, Could Be Offseason Buyers
With New York eying a deep postseason run, some expected the team to be a heavy buyer ahead of the trade deadline. According to Fischer, however, the Knicks were never that interested in pursuing a player like Russell Westbrook or Fred VanVleet in-season:
"The Knicks were never significantly involved in Russell Westbrook trade talks with Houston, sources said. Ditto for any Fred VanVleet contract discussions, despite the rampant speculation revolving around both guards. New York could have chased a big name like DeMar DeRozan, Victor Oladipo or Lonzo Ball ahead of the trade deadline. Instead, executives chose to operate as a third team in Oklahoma City and Philadelphia's swap of George Hill, essentially acquiring two second-round picks for Austin Rivers."
It seems that New York was willing to take a patient approach during the 2020-21 season, looking instead to the offseason, when players like Lillard might be available.
The Knicks could also be aggressive in free agency.
"Now the goal posts have been moved," one source told Fischer. "[Coach Tom Thibodeau] isn't going to want to rebuild. He has a lot of power, and there's some momentum."
Knicks Likely to Eye Dennis Schroder, Lonzo Ball
The Knicks should have some intriguing options in free agency—both restricted and unrestricted. SNY's Ian Begley reported in April that Dennis Schroder and Lonzo Ball could be near the top of New York's wishlist:
"Schroder is among the players on New York’s radar as the club looks ahead to free agency, SNY has learned. ... They could also turn to Ball, a restricted free agent in 2021. The Knicks and Pelicans touched base prior to the trade deadline—one person with knowledge of the Pelicans/Knicks Ball dynamic expects New York to re-engage on Ball in the offseason."
While not specifically listed as a target for New York, Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry could be an option. He's scheduled to reach free agency and could be seeking a long-term deal.
"Word among league personnel suggests Lowry is looking for a longer contract this summer," Fischer wrote.
At the very least, Lowry should be on New York's radar when the offseason gets underway.