Knicks $20M ‘Trade Prize’ Could Be Scratched From Playoff Rotation

Bojan Bogdanovic

Getty Bojan Bogdanovic during a February 24 game against the Boston Celtics.

Not all trades work out in professional sports. Alec Burks, Bojan Bogdanovic, and the New York Knicks are learning that lesson together.

The two veterans were acquired from the Detroit Pistons on February 9, in exchange for former first-round pick Quentin Grimes, Evan Fournier, Malachi Flynn, Ryan Arcidiacono, and two-second round picks.

But since joining the Knicks, their shots aren’t falling, despite being trusted with a high volume of shots in big minutes.

Stefan Bondy of the New York Post thinks it will cost their place in the rotation come playoffs, as he wrote in an April 7 column.

“Creeping up on the two-month anniversary of the Knicks’ deadline deal with the Pistons, Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks continue to ride the struggle bus,” Bondy wrote. “And it leaves questions about their future in the potential playoff rotation.”

Bondy believes that coach Tom Thibodeau’s rotation will shrink to eight players come the postseason.

That means someone coming in off the bench won’t hear their number called.

Bogdanovic, Burks’ Shooting Struggles

Neither Bogdanovic nor Burks has lived up to their potential since the trade to New York, and their struggles have been placed centerstage with the absences of Julius Randle and OG Anunoby.

Burks has struggled most of all, averaging just 6.5 points on 31 percent shooting from the floor and 29 percent from three.

He might already be out of coach Tom Thibodeau’s rotation.

“Burks, 32, already has had his role greatly diminished after returning from a shoulder sprain, averaging just eight minutes in the past four games,” Bondy wrote on April 7. “Since the trade on Feb. 8, he’s the NBA’s least efficient among players with at least 100 shot attempts. No. 2 is Detroit rookie Marcus Sasser, who is shooting 31.8 percent.”

Bondy predicts it’s Anunoby’s potential return to form that could exile Bogdanovic.

“If Anunoby is healthy and gets off his minutes restriction — he acknowledged playing under one after logging 29 on Friday,” Bondy wrote. “It’s possible Bogdanovic is out of the rotation as well.”

Bogdanovic, in 25 games, has been more consistent than Burks, shooting 43 percent and 35 percent respectively.

But to his credit, he’s picked it up as of late, earning the respect of opposing defenders and Knicks fans alike.

Bogdanovic Finding His Stroke

Over the Knicks’ last five games, Bogdanovic is averaging 11.4 points on 56 percent shooting and 38 percent from three.

In the previous 10 games, he averaged just 6.9 points on 39 and 33 percent shooting.

Bogdanovic’s most recent game might be his best as a Knick. He scored 15 points on six-of-nine shooting from the field, in just 16 minutes, posting a +5 plus/minus.

It’s tied for Bogdanovic’s second-highest plus-minus of the season, if you exclude an exaggerated +16 in the Knicks’ 44-point blowout win over the Toronto Raptors.

If he can continue this level of play, then despite Thibodeau’s playoff rotation count, he’ll get at least one opportunity in the postseason.

What he does with it could determine the rest of his story as a Knick.

Burks Bound to Bench?

Bondy made a good point in his column: Burks may have already lost his rotation spot.

Call it injuries, call it missed shots, but the fact is this: in a must-win game against the Milwaukee Bucks, he did not see the court.

Per Cleaning the Glass, in 551 possessions with Burks on the court this season, the Knicks have been outscored by 11.7 points. In 925 possessions with Bogdanovic on the floor, that number improves slightly, to 10.1.

Any decision Tom Thibodeau faces in shrinking this New York Knicks rotation will prioritize team defense.

It’s the calling card of his career. And really bad news for Alec Burks and Bojan Bogdanovic.