This past offseason, the New York Knicks failed in their pursuits to land themselves an already-made, top-flight talent when prized target Donovan Mitchell was ultimately dealt to the Cleveland Cavaliers on September 1.
Though many believed the guard to be the only realistic star-caliber pursuit for the franchise this year, the folks at Bleacher Report are under the impression that Leon Rose and company could put their hat into the ring for one more possible up-and-coming trade sweepstakes.
In a November 8 piece penned by the outlet, writer Grant Hughes discussed the recent rumor by sports analyst Bill Simmons that Los Angeles Lakers big man Anthony Davis “might be available” in trade talks and mentioned a few possible landing spots for the superstar should he wind up being dealt.
Of the four teams, the Knicks found themselves mentioned as being a realistic trade partner for LA, as Hughes went on to construct an exchange that, in his opinion, would help “upgrade” the team’s current starting rotation.
The proposed deal reads as follows:
New York Knicks receive:
- Anthony Davis
Los Angeles Lakers receive:
- RJ Barrett
- Mitchell Robinson
- Obi Toppin
- Quentin Grimes
- 2023 first-round pick
- 2023 first-round pick (via DET, WAS, DAL)
- 2025 first-round pick (Via MIL)
Hughes would go on to argue that this move would “lend some legitimacy” to New York’s 18th-ranked defense and help unclog the lane on offense thanks to Davis’ “perimeter skills.”
However, right off the bat, it’s apparent that this proposal looks to be far too steep for the Knicks to even remotely consider.
Should The Knicks Consider?
Anthony Davis, though literally a top-75 player of all time, has looked like a shell of himself ever since signing his lucrative $189 million max contract back during the 2020 offseason.
Through three seasons into his max deal, the big man has struggled mightily to stay on the floor due to a myriad of injuries, playing in just 84 of a potential total of 164 games during this stretch.
On top of this, while his counting stats of 22.6 points, 9.1 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.3 steals, and 2.0 blocks per contest are certainly impressive, he has done so whilst shooting a mediocre 23.4% from distance which, contrary to Hughes’ belief, is undoubtedly not the type of “perimeter skills” that will help better space out this Knicks offense.
Though he has technically proven to still be a star during this stretch, as he was selected to the 2021 NBA All-Star Game — which he missed due to injury –, and has also proven to still be a top-tier defensive specimen when on the floor, his 51% play rate since the start of 2020-21 coupled with his shooting inefficiencies are two major concerns attached to the likes of Davis.
However, even considering all this, one could make the argument that a trade for the big man could still be a sound idea to consider, so long as it’s for the right price.
That said, it’s hard to make the case that Hughes’ proposal qualifies as such.
Despite his struggles at the start of the season, the would-be Los Angeles-bound centerpiece, RJ Barrett, seems to finally be showing signs of turning the corner, as he’s been on a tear of late, putting up averages of 21.0 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and a steal on 49.4% shooting from the floor and 43.3% shooting from deep over his last five contests.
The Knicks didn’t sign the wing to a four-year, $120 million contract extension this past summer just to trade him away a mere months later. The hope is that he can serve as the Knicks’ franchise cornerstone heading into the future and, lately, it appears we’re seeing glimpses of this being the case.
We also see Hughes proposing the idea of sending Mitchell Robson, Obi Toppin, and Quentin Grimes to the Lakers along with Barrett, the latter of whom was essentially viewed as an untouchable during the offseason’s Donovan Mitchell sweepstakes.
If the Knicks were unwilling to part ways with Grimes for a 26-year-old perennial All-Star, why would they now be open to shipping him out for a soon-to-be 30-year-old with an extensive injury history?
On top of all this, the proposal then sees three first-round picks being sent packing which, though New York may have a treasure trove of said assets, does not seem like the best way to utilize their future selections.
At the end of the day, this trade idea seems to be far too risky and, frankly, unnecessary for the New York Knicks to even remotely consider, and, because of this, the organization should look to stay away from such talks at all costs.
Trade Idea Lands Knicks Two-Way Wing
Should the Knicks be interested in pursuing a trade this season, unless it’s a perfectly aligned blockbuster, they should strongly consider focusing on smaller exchanges and, in a November 7 Bleacher Report article written by Greg Swartz, the ball club is seen doing exactly that.
In the article, Swartz suggests the concept of a trade that would send high-priced sharpshooter Evan Fournier to the Washington Wizards in exchange for Will Barton.
In his eyes, such a swap would help benefit both parties.
“Barton is a reliable wing who the Knicks can plug into their rotation immediately,” Swartz wrote “He offers more playmaking than Fournier and is hitting 40.6 percent of his threes for the Wizards.
“His expiring $14.4 million contract means New York can open up $18.9 million worth of cap space next summer by flipping Fournier for him now. Considering the Wizards rank 27th in three-point accuracy this season, Fournier could become a rotation piece and floor-spacer that would slot well alongside Bradley Beal.”
Not only would this exchange help the Knicks from a talent and skills perspective but it would also help them financially as well, as Fournier is still under contract for at least another year with a club option for 2024-25 with an average salary of $18.6 million while Barton’s deal comes off the books after this season.
In Swartz’s mind, even if it costs the Knicks a pick in the process, such a move could prove to be well worth it.