With the 2021 NBA Draft just weeks away, the league’s rumor mill is hard at work, and the New York Knicks are being tied to point guards left and right.
They’ve been linked to all of Chris Paul, Collin Sexton, Dennis Schroder, Kendrick Nunn, Kyle Lowry, and Lonzo Ball ahead of free agency and the upcoming offseason.
One name that hasn’t been linked to the Knicks by way of any outlet’s reporting is Mike Conley of the Utah Jazz.
The 33-year old is coming off of a season where he averaged 16.2 points, six assists, and 1.2 steals per game for a team that finished with the best record in the NBA.
Maybe it’s for good reason, the lack of connection between Conley and New York.
One analyst has gone as far as to advise the point guard to steer clear of signing on with the Knicks this summer.
Favale: Conley Should Avoid Being a ‘Be-All Setup Man’
In his latest piece for Bleacher Report, Realistic Landing Spots Top Free Agents Should Avoid, Dan Favale went through upcoming free agents and which teams might not be the best fit for them.
When he got to Mike Conley, he was adamant that the New York Knicks are a poor fit for the All-Star point guard.
He cited their recent success and the tall task that is playing point guard for this team, as reasons why the two sides wouldn’t find their partnership mutually beneficial:
Propping up an entire offense isn’t Conley’s wheelhouse. It could have been at one time; Memphis just seldom used him in that way. But now? Going on 34? After missing a combined 46 regular-season games, plus some playoff time, over the past two years while dealing with knee and hamstring issues?
As well as the inevitable market that will develop for Conley, in which he’d undoubtedly find a better fit:
Conley will have other cap-space squads offering him a small ransom, not to mention his own team. He is better off landing somewhere he won’t potentially have to serve as the be-all setup man or crunch-time engine.
His argument makes sense if you’re expecting Julius Randle to regress.
But if not, there may not be a better All-Star to pair Conley with.
Randle shoulders an admirable share of playmaking responsibilities for a frontcourt player; he averaged a career-high six assists this season.
One could argue there are parallels to what Conley had when he was in his prime, playing with All-Star big man Marc Gasol in Memphis with the Grizzlies.
What I won’t argue is that the Utah Jazz are currently better suited for a championship run than the Knicks would be in a scenario where they potentially lure Mike Conley to New York.
Fortunately, both sides have other options.
Knicks the ‘Most Aggressive Suitor’ for Sexton
It seems Leon Rose and the New York Knicks front office have zeroed in on a different target: Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Collin Sexton.
The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported on Tuesday morning that the Knicks have emerged as ‘the most aggressive suitor’ for the 22-year old:
The Knicks are the most aggressive trade suitor for Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton, sources said. Sexton is eligible for his rookie extension this offseason, and with one year left on his deal, it allows Cleveland to continue to be patient in constructing the roster.
Sexton averaged 24.3 points, 4.4 assists, 3.1 rebounds, and one steal per game last season, his third in the NBA.
But speculation is mounting as to whether or not the Cavaliers will be willing to pay up for his next contract.
Sexton’s currently eligible for a max rookie extension worth north of $168-million. But if Cleveland opts to bypass those talks, he’ll enter restricted free agency in 2022.
Fear the Sword editor and host of the Locked on Cavaliers podcast Evan Dammarrell reported a potential Knicks package for the point guard:
If true, that’s about as even a value for both teams as Cleveland and New York could hope for.
It seems a matter of when, not if, Collin Sexton is moved.
And the Knicks are ready and willing with an offer in hand, or so it appears.
It’s very rare to find no fire underneath this much smoke.