Winners and Losers of New York Knicks' Trade for Atlanta Hawks' Cam ReddishJanuary 13, 2022
Winners and Losers of New York Knicks' Trade for Atlanta Hawks' Cam Reddish
The New York Knicks were sinking fast, with the Atlanta Hawks not too far behind. A change for both organizations was needed. And the deal they struck, like most deals, had its share of winners and losers.
According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Hawks sent Cam Reddish, Solomon Hill and a 2025 second-round pick to the New York Knicks on Thursday for Kevin Knox II and a protected 2022 first-rounder (via Charlotte).
Here's a look at who came out on top, who didn't and what this trade means to a pair of franchises that a year ago showed the promise to be among the better teams this season.
Instead, both have looked more like play-in game fodder for some top-shelf team in the Eastern Conference (Brooklyn, Miami or defending NBA champion Milwaukee) to run over and make into basketball roadkill.
Winner: Cam Reddish
Reddish joins a .500 Knicks team that absolutely needs a player with his particular skill set as a scorer. It was clear that Reddish's impact with the Hawks was not going to be significant—not only this season but going forward.
They established their core when they offered extensions to All-Star Trae Young, budding star John Collins and Kevin Huerter, who can play well both as a starter and as a key reserve.
Reddish gets a fresh start with the Knicks, who will offer him ample opportunities to play his way into a more meaningful role, or at least better position himself to attract suitors in the summer of 2023 when he hits restricted free agency.
Prior to the trade, Hawks head coach Nate McMillan discussed the challenges this season of getting Reddish the kind of playing time that the 22-year-old was seeking.
"It's really hard. It's really hard," McMillan told Bleacher Report. "We are a team that went from last year developing to this year competing. And it's tough to develop while you are competing. I was told a long time ago by [former Temple head coach] John Chaney, when you're developing, you're losing. You do want to develop but … it's really difficult to do that when the expectations have changed for the organization."
Atlanta's run toward the Eastern Conference Finals pushed up the Hawks' title-contention timeline, resulting in them going into this season leaning more on the guys who helped carry them to unexpected heights a year ago.
And while Reddish showed flashes of being a difference-maker in the playoffs, he was not a player they went into this season counting on to be a major contributor.
Loser: Kevin Knox II
There really was no scenario that would have worked out for Knox leading up to the trade deadline. If he stayed in New York, it wouldn't have been because the Knicks wanted him or saw he had value. It would have been because they couldn't trade him.
And now that he's moved, the likelihood of his playing decent minutes is even lower than it was for Reddish and Hill. While Knox is still relatively young enough to warrant being on someone's roster next season, his future in the NBA—not just with the Hawks but the league as a whole—is very much up in the air.
Knox, drafted by the Knicks with the ninth pick in 2018, never lived up to the promise and potential so many saw in him coming out of Kentucky. On the surface, it appears he will get a fresh start in Atlanta.
But truthfully, he may be on the move again.
The inability to develop Reddish was a driving force behind the 22-year-old being moved. If the Hawks couldn't find room for Reddish to grow and develop, can Knox have better luck with the team in that regard?
Because the need for him to play and develop is even greater than it was for Reddish.
Winner: New York Knicks
The struggles of Kemba Walker this season, combined with the inconsistent scoring of Evan Fournier and Derrick Rose's injury troubles, made the need to add a scorer such as Reddish essential for New York to have any shot at improving upon last season's strong showing or at a minimum, solidify its position as a playoff team this year.
Immanuel Quickley has shown growth this season, but don't be surprised if the arrival of Reddish eventually cuts into his playing time. And with Walker already out of the rotation, he has to decide if he's cool with being back home and not playing or whether he wants to move on and play for a possible contender.
The problem with the latter scenario is, because of Walker's recent bouts with injuries, there isn't a significant market for his services.
Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau's defense-first (and second and third and…) brand of basketball has worn on his teams of the past, with signs of that being the case now. But by adding Hill, who has shown himself to be a solid team defender, as well as Reddish's shot-making, the Knicks became a deeper, more talented team by addressing two areas of need: perimeter defense and scoring.
Winner: Atlanta Hawks
Trading a player who just about every league executive expected you to move on from makes getting anything of value for him difficult. Not only were the Hawks able to move Reddish and get a first-round pick for him, but they also were able to shed Hill's contract.
While Hill's $2.4 million deal wasn't a huge cap hindrance to the Hawks, they still have at least one player (DeAndre Hunter) who is due for an extension, which means every penny counts for Atlanta to best ensure it can continue to keep the players it believes make up its core.
Hunter's deal is complicated to some extent because of the rash of injuries he has sustained in a still-young NBA career. But there's no debating his value to this team in comparison to Reddish's.
While Reddish's scoring showed potential, Hunter's proven body of work—when he's been healthy—is among the many reasons the Hawks feel his versatility as both an elite defender as well as another scoring option is vital to Atlanta's continued growth into being a major player in the East for years to come.
Loser: New Orleans Pelicans
Not a single player on their roster was involved, but you can bet the "Get Zion to New York" train will be full-steam-ahead now. It has always been out there, ever since the Knicks were among the really bad teams hoping Williamson would fall into their lap on draft night.
Instead, they wound up with one of Williamson's teammates at Duke, RJ Barrett.
And now that the Knicks have traded for Reddish, the stars—at least in the eyes of Knicks fans and the franchise's front office—are aligning themselves in a way that looks very appealing to Williamson.
Of course, the Pelicans will do all they can to keep their star happy.
But we've seen this movie before, right?
New Orleans did all it could to keep Anthony Davis content, but the compounding losses in the small-market city made Davis' departure inevitable.
Also…there was peer pressure from other stars in the league (cough, LeBron James!) urging him to not waste some of his best basketball years with a team that wasn't going anywhere.
So Davis forced his way out of New Orleans and wound up with an NBA title in Los Angeles.
Will Zion look to do the same and force his way to New York?
Regardless of how real a threat the Pelicans see New York being in luring away Zion, the opportunity to play with Barrett and Reddish at a minimum will be something he'll think about.
And that would turn what was a dream come true for the organization in landing Zion on draft night in 2019 into a full-blown nightmare.
Winner: Solomon Hill
He only appeared in 13 games for the Hawks this season, so the likelihood that his role will be expanded from that is minimal. But what he brings goes beyond stats. He is widely regarded as one of the better locker-room guys.
In fact, one of Hill's biggest fans is Reddish.
Because when Reddish was going through his rehab last season, there was no voice among the players in his ear more often than Hill's.
"Solo [Solomon Hill] kept telling me all the time, 'Just stay ready.'" Reddish told Bleacher Report earlier this year. "I didn't necessarily think they would need me at that time. But they ended up needing me [in the playoffs], and I was ready."
Having Hill around will certainly help Reddish's transition to New York. And for the Knicks, he provides another voice in the locker room with experience, leadership and maybe most important, someone players trust with his word.
Salary info via Spotrac unless otherwise noted.