Knicks' Top Trade Priorities Entering 2022

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistDecember 30, 2021

Knicks' Top Trade Priorities Entering 2022

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    The New York Knicks had hoped to spring forward from last season's playoff breakthrough.

    They have wobbled out of the gates instead, posting a sub-.500 record over their first 35 contests—albeit with only one more loss than win.

    It could be worse. But it could be a whole lot better too. Knowing that, the 'Bockers might rank among the more aggressive buyers between now and the Feb. 10 trade deadline, provided they see enough value in instant upgrades to justify selling off future assets.

    If New York wants to win now, the following three areas should have the front office's attention.

Floor General

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    New York's offensive focus this offseason hasn't unglued this attack. It has its moments every now and again, but for the most part, getting buckets has been a grind.

    Finding a top facilitator might be one way to get this group out of the mud.

    Kemba Walker has been inconsistent on offense and dreadful on defense. Derrick Rose, Immanuel Quickley and Alec Burks are more natural scorers than table-setters. Julius Randle remains the top ball-mover for the Knicks, but his assists are down, and his turnovers are up from last season's All-Star effort.

    Only the future-focused Oklahoma City Thunder average fewer assists than New York's nightly allotment of 21.4. If the Knicks want to up that number, they will have to look outside the organization for help.

Stretch Big

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    The Knicks have worked their way into becoming one of the better three-point shooting teams in the league, but nearly all of their long balls come from guards and wings.

    Outside of Randle, whose splash rate has dipped more than 8 percentage points from last season, they don't have a big who is comfortable taking aim from distance. That limits what this team can do in terms of spacing, whether that's widening attack lanes or creating more opportunities for cutters.

    Adding a legitimate stretch 5 would give coach Tom Thibodeau more flexibility with his lineups. And since neither Mitchell Robinson nor Nerlens Noel has played particularly well this season, perhaps Thibs would be open to sacrificing some interior defense for more shooting on the floor.

    Even a shooting specialist could help to create different looks, and that archetype shouldn't break the bank.

Go-To Scorer

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    Whatever clicked for Randle last season hasn't this time around. RJ Barrett has taken his own step back. Walker and Evan Fournier have both fallen short of expectations.

    It should be no surprise, then, that the Knicks entered Wednesday night ranked just 18th in offensive efficiency, per Those players are supposed to be the offensive leaders, and not one has been up to par.

    The obvious questions here are whether an offensive focal point will be available this trade season and whether or not the Knicks could afford him. Those answers will only be revealed with time, but it makes sense for the Knicks to at least be working the phone lines.

    Should a Damian Lillard-type suddenly enter the market, New York should be ready to pounce with the best trade package it can put together (and would be willing to cut loose). Having a true offensive alpha could answer some of this attack's biggest questions.