With just under a month remaining until the NBA‘s February 10 trade deadline, the New York Knicks have work to do. Over the last 22 months, Leon Rose has built what can only be described as a win-now roster, with Julius Randle and RJ Barrett leading a slew of battle-tested vets.
The problem: New York isn’t winning now, at least not at the rate many expected after the club finished with a top-four playoff seed last season.
So, reports that the Knicks are considering moves both big and small definitely ring true.
ESPN’s front office insider and capologist Bobby Marks just pitched a Knicks move that would fall into the latter category; one netting a potentially useful backup big. However, it would also bring in another draft asset, which is something that Rose has managed to accumulate in spite of his other, win-now moves.
Marks: Knicks Could Aquire Derrick Favors, Pick
Marks served up the following trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder as one he’d like to see from the team:
- Knicks get: Derrick Favors and a 2022 first-round pick (via Phoenix)
- Thunder receive: Mitchell Robinson and Kevin Knox
Moving Knox probably wouldn’t cause Knicks brass much angst at this point. Although he was picked in the lottery range — and went on to have a promising rookie campaign — the 22-year-old has seen his minutes reduced over subsequent seasons. And he really hasn’t been part of Tom Thibodeau’s rotation in 2021-22.
Robinson, however, has started 28 games on the year and is a physical specimen who has impressed with his shot-blocking, rebounding and rim-running ability. That said, he’ll be an unrestricted free agent this summer and will command much more than the $1.8 million he’s making this season.
The big get in this deal for the Knicks would be the pick, even as it’s likely to fall at the tail end of the first round. Meanwhile, if Rose doesn’t want to pay Mitchell, Favors is also a player who can play in the pick-and-roll, hit the occasional mid-range jumper and will give effort on the boards, as well as defensively.
As for OKC, Knox and Robinson could be viewed as players they can continue to develop and potential long-term pieces.
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The Argument Against the Deal
While Favors has been a solid pro and a low-maintenance guy in the locker room over his 12-year career, he’s clearly lost multiple steps as age and injuries have set in. At one time, he was one of the better defensive bigs in the league; now, his lateral movement and shot-blocking ability are a shell of what they once were.
Acquiring him comes with a price, too. The Utah Jazz were overly generous with the deal they gave him to return to the team in 2020. As such, Favors is making nearly $10 million this season and he has a player option — that he’ll inevitably take — worth more than $10 mil. next season.
A middling pick may not be enough to offset that, either.
He’ll have some value as an expiring contract beginning this summer, but that’s still a lot of scratch to be paying for a backup big and there’s no guarantee the Knicks would be able to move him for anything of substance.
Moreover, it’s hard to say with any level of confidence that the Thunder would actually have any interest in doling out a long-term deal to Robinson or working to get something out of Knox. As ever, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.