Knicks Discussing Multi-Player Trade for Sharpshooter & Lockdown Big: Report

Obi Toppin Knicks-76ers

Getty New York Knicks forward Obi Toppin reacts during a game against the Philadelphia 76ers.

For the third time in the last 12-13 months, a superstar baller has requested a trade from the Brooklyn Nets. This time, it’s 2016 NBA champion Kyrie Irving who’s looking for a change in location. And while the New York Knicks are well-known for their (ill-fated) star pursuits, the Nets’ intrastate rivals haven’t been linked to Kyrie this time around.

That doesn’t mean that team president Leon Rose is kicking back and waiting for the Association’s February 9 trade deadline to pass him by, however. On the contrary, he and his brain trust appear to be actively engaged in the trade chatter that’s happening around the league.

Rose clearly isn’t precious about who he’s dealing with, either.

Per a February 4 report from HoopsHype, the Knicks have been talking trade with the team that many felt spurned them in last summer’s Donovan Mitchell sweepstakes. Namely, the Utah Jazz.

Jazz-Knicks Discussing Trade That Would Send Obi Toppin & Evan Fournier Out of NYC

As ever, shooting is at a premium in the NBA; also — defense wins championships. Cliché though those statements may be, they’re phrases that ought to be rolling around Knicks HQ right now. And the trade that New York and Utah are discussing, per league insider Michael Scotto, would bring a little bit of both to the Big Apple.

Not only that — it would see the Knicks finally shedding the albatross that is Evan Fournier’s contract, too. Here are the details, via Scotto:

“The Knicks and Jazz have had exploratory conversations surrounding Obi Toppin, Evan Fournier, and draft pick compensation for Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt, league sources told HoopsHype.”

Although he has cooled off more recently, Beasley — who’s currently averaging 13.5 points per contest — began the 2022-23 campaign as one of the hottest long-range marksmen in the game. For the year, he’s still at about 36% from deep on nearly nine attempts per game.

On a Knicks team that has been decidedly below average from range this season, he’s precisely the kind of volume three-point shooter that could open things up offensively.

Vanderbilt, meanwhile, was starting and having a career year before the emergence of Walker Kessler, who may just be on his way to All-Rookie First Team honors. So far in ’22-23, he’s still logging 8.3 points, 7.9 boards, 2.7 assists and a steal per game.

That stat line, his constant energy on the court and his commitment to D practically scream Tom Thibodeau player.

The Knicks Have Resisted Attaching Assets to Fournier Dump, But…

Despite some consternation from Thibodeau and Knicks fans, Fournier was essentially as advertised during his first year in NYC. Clearly, the honeymoon (if you can call it that) is now over, though, as the veteran has appeared in just 21 games this season and logged a veritable bonanza of DNP-CDs.

Given that the Knicks will almost certainly be over the cap moving forward whether they deal him at the deadline or not, they’re under no pressure to pay some other team in draft capital to absorb his salary. This particular trade may be the exception to that, however.

The Jazz have been said to desire a first-round pick apiece for Beasley and Vanderbilt, so they’re getting what they want here. Meanwhile, Toppin has never been high on Thibodeau’s list — at least, if his shrinking minutes/role are any indication — so the Knicks could jettison him as part of the Fournier dump and not feel too angsty about it.

The Jazz, meanwhile, would be getting a player who was hyper-effective in small doses last season and is still just 24.

Read More