The New York Knicks could be looking to make some serious changes this offseason. After failing to make the postseason in any capacity this past year, they need to decide whether or not they will structure their roster in an attempt to compete right now or tear things down and begin a rebuild.
They own the 11th pick in the upcoming draft, and on top of that, they should have some interesting opportunities available to them in the trade market. So, as they attempt to bridge the gap between playoff contention and rebuilding for the future, adding young players who can help them compete should be a top priority.
Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report compiled a list of three “sleeper” trade candidates who the Knicks could choose to pursue. Among them was Memphis Grizzlies guard De’Anthony Melton. At just 24 years old, he would be a big-time help with both of their potential timelines.
“In case you haven’t heard this a million times (you have), the ‘Bockers badly need a point guard,” Buckley pointed out. “If they aggressively probe for upgrades, they’ll seek out a number of players before looking at De’Anthony Melton—including one of his own teammates in Tyus Jones (who’s too obvious of a target in New York to wear the sleeper label). Still, it’s possible the Knicks eventually decide Melton offers the best combination of ability and affordability.”
This past season, Melton averaged 10.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 2.7 assists while shooting 40.4% from the field and 37.4% from behind the three-point line. He’s set to make just over $9 million next season.
While Melton may not be the perfect player, Buckley sees that as the exact reason why New York should make a move for him.
Melton’s Strengths Would Be Emphasized in New York
According to Buckley, while Melton has struggled with his ball-handling and scoring consistency, the Knicks would provide him with the perfect environment. A place where his weaknesses could be hidden and his strengths would be empowered.
“His so-so handling and sporadic scoring should put a reasonable cap on his next contract, and that should be the Knicks’ signal to pounce,” Buckley wrote. “They have the scorers and shot-creators (namely, Julius Randle and RJ Barrett) to live with Melton’s weaknesses in hopes of maximizing his strengths as a disruptive defender, microwave shooter and grab-and-go rebounder.”
Tom Thibodeau loves rolling out lineups that are able to compete on the defensive end, and despite his size (just 6’2), Melton would give him another guard that fits that mold. He would fit beautifully alongside Barrett and Randle.
However, as the Grizzlies attempt to compete for a title, the Knicks would have to offer a pretty penny if they want to get their hands on Melton.
Potential Melton-to-Knicks Trade Ideas
Melton averaged 22.7 minutes for the Grizzlies last season, but that number dipped to 17.0 during the postseason. With Tyus Jones’ emergence as the go-to backup point guard, there’s a chance the Grizzlies could view Melton as expendable. However, with how affordable his contract is, Memphis may be hesitant to part ways with him.
He provides them with hustle defense, quality guard depth, and solid three-point shooting. The Knicks don’t have many players on their roster who they could give up that would entice the Grizzlies. The only players that stand out are guys like Quentin Grimes, Immanuel Quickley, and Obi Toppin, as they would give the Grizzlies a cheaper option, allowing them to re-sign Jones this offseason.
However, New York may not want to trade those pieces, and rightfully so. They should be at the forefront of the Knicks’ potential rebuild. In turn, trading for Melton could provide to be a difficult task. But if the Knicks could get it done, he would fit nicely alongside their current core.