In a “What to Watch” piece focusing on the upcoming NBA trade deadline, ESPN’s Bobby Marks made a grim proclamation for New York Knicks fans who were hoping the team could repeat or build on last season’s success. In short, he doesn’t see any deal out there making it happen.
“The Knicks need to continue to take a long-term approach with this roster,” Marks wrote. “There is no disgruntled All-Star available to turn the Knicks from a team fighting for a play-in spot back into a top-four team in the Eastern Conference.”
Others aren’t so sure. For example, an anonymous league executive recently told SNY’s Ian Begley that “the right player or two” could flip the current script for New York.
Although Marks doesn’t seem to like the Knicks’ chances in 2021-22, he nonetheless proposed a trade while examing the Houston Rockets’ deadline prospects that could net “the right player” for the Knicks.
Marks: Rockets Could Send Christian Wood to the Big Apple
As of this writing, we’re only 12 days into 2022, but Houston’s Christian Wood has already had an eventful new year.
The big man ruffled feathers by skipping a COVID-19 test, which delayed the team’s shootaround that day. Later, he got into it with head coach Stephen Silas and assistant John Lucas, refused to re-enter a contest against the Denver Nuggets and was ultimately suspended for a game as a result.
In the wake of those incidents, some are calling for Houston to deal the disgruntled star. And even before the mess, his name was right up there with those of Ben Simmons and Jerami Grant where trade chatter is concerned.
Marks pitched the following deal sending Wood to the Knicks:
- Knicks receive: Christian Wood
- Rockets get: Mitchell Robinson, Kemba Walker and two first-round picks (via Dallas and Charlotte)
The Rockets’ motivation here would be the acquisition of prospects and draft assets, which is exactly what GM Rafael Stone should be collecting as he engages on what could be a lengthy, post-Harden rebuild.
And while Wood is young and talented enough to be a part of that process, some are now questioning his fit from a cultural standpoint.
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The Knicks Perspective
Getting Wood from the Rockets would give the Knicks a dynamic, young frontcourt combination that would make life hard on opponents on a nightly basis. He’s in the midst of a campaign in which he has averaged 17.1 points, 10.0 rebounds and nearly one block per contest, and he could put up similar numbers in NYC.
With a 3-4-5 combination of RJ Barrett, Julius Randle and Wood — none of whom are older than 27 — the Knicks core for the next several years would be established.
Moreover, Wood is currently on a team-friendly deal paying him $13.7 million and $14.3 million next season (although he’s eligible for an extension this offseason). It’s a contract that would still afford the Knicks an opportunity to make other moves around the margins before Barrett is up for an extension, too, and things get really hairy.
Regarding a Wood deal, the questions that Leon Rose and the rest of the Knicks decision-makers would have to ask themselves are as follows:
Is Wood good enough to make up for the loss of Robinson, in addition to two first-round picks? That’s a lot of desirable assets.
Were his recent actions just the breaking point in his wild Rockets journey and isolated incidents, or could he cause problems for another team like the Knicks?