Despite their recent string of hard-fought back-to-back wins on the road that has finally thrust them over the .500 threshold with a record of 8-7, the New York Knicks are a team that still could be argued as being in need of some remodeling.
Across the association, there are believed to be many available players who, if acquired, could help benefit the organization during the remainder of this season as well as for the next several to come, and, according to one anonymous executive, there’s a potential target residing in Charlotte that Leon Rose and company may wish to consider pursuing.
In a recent sit down with Heavy Sports’ NBA Insider Sean Deveney, an Eastern Conference GM noted that the nosediving 4-12 Hornets could end up holding some sort of “fire sale” down in the Tar Heel state at some point in the near future, and, should this happen, they’d likely be looking to part ways with some of their veteran talents, including forward Gordon Hayward.
Should team owner Michael Jordan opt for a retooling of the roster, the exec told Deveney that the Knicks could be an interesting fit for the 32-year-old fallen All-Star.
“Hayward (currently out with a shoulder injury) is a gamble because it’s been five years since he was actually healthy,” the Eastern Conference GM told Deveney.
“But he’s only got one year after this one (at $31.5 million) and there are teams that probably need to take a gamble if they’re going to win a title—Dallas is one, and Miami. He’d be a good fit in Milwaukee or Phoenix, too, even New York.”
Now, as the executive correctly suggested, Hayward is a gamble for any team he winds up suiting up for due to his well-documented injury history that has seemed to flow right along into 2022-23.
However, should he find a way to stay healthy, and the Knicks play their cards right with an ideal trade offer, making a move for the veteran could prove to be a move well worth New York’s while.
Knicks Have Shown Interest in Hayward
When it comes to Gordon Hayward, there are many things one can describe him as: injury prone, risky, overpaid, etc.
Since his 2016-17 All-Star season, the $120 million forward has struggled mightily to stay healthy, playing in just 226 out of a potential total of 324 games during this stretch.
However, one thing the veteran can’t be described as is unproductive when he’s found on the hardwood, which is why the Knicks have been reported as being interested in him for several months now, even dating back to the Donovan Mitchell sweepstakes.
Over the past six seasons, when on the floor Hayward has certainly shown that he still has the franchise centerpiece type of talent within his arsenal, as he’s posted impressive averages of 15.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game on 47.5% shooting from the floor and 37.8% shooting from distance.
As an NBA executive told Deveney back in late August if he can remain healthy Hayward would “be good with what the Knicks have, with Brunson and R.J. Barrett, a bigger guy who can be a ball-handler.”
Should New York be able to package together a deal that either includes no truly noteworthy assets or, even more ideal, one that sends off undesirable contracts of their own (Julius Randle’s four-year, $117 million deal; Evan Fournier’s three-year, $55.8 left on his current deal), perhaps a deal for the likes of Gordon Hayward could prove to be of great value for the club.
However, if he continues to struggle with his health, there would be no long-term risk for the franchise, as his contract expires at the end of this season.
Knicks a Potential Destination for Durant
In a November 17 article by Bleacher Report, staff writer Eric Pincus discussed the idea of disgruntled superstar Kevin Durant potentially revisiting his desire to be traded from the Brooklyn Nets this season and, should this happen, he believes the New York Knicks could be a realistic landing spot for the forward considering their treasure trove of assets.
“In addition to all of its first-round picks, the Knicks have three protected firsts in 2023 from the Dallas Mavericks, Detroit Pistons and Washington Wizards, and a 2025 first (in the 5-30 range) from the Milwaukee Bucks. That draft capital could be enough if both sides were eager for a deal,” Pincus wrote.
“Additionally, the Knicks have several young prospects to offer, like Obi Toppin, Immanuel Quickley and Quentin Grimes, among others. Evan Fournier would probably be necessary for salary matching, along with at least one additional veteran like Derrick Rose or Mitchell Robinson.”
Despite Brooklyn’s sub-par record of 6-9, Durant still finds himself putting forth a phenomenal individual showing to start the 2022-23 campaign, as he is boasting impressive per-game averages of 30.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 1.9 blocks on 52.4% shooting from the floor and 35.3% shooting from deep.