The only thing more reliable than an 18-foot baseline jumper from Julius Randle is the New York Knicks‘ inclusion in each and every NBA star trade sweepstakes.
So naturally, they’ve been heavily tied to six-time All-Star point guard Damian Lillard, whose frustrations with the Portland Trail Blazers’ progress, or lack thereof, has been very publicly reported.
And the latest reporting from Sports Illustrated’s Chris Broussard (via SNY) isn’t silencing the hype:
It seems like if he had to leave Portland, New York would be the place he’d like to go…I don’t think Dame is fully into the superteam idea, and I also think he wants his own team.
For now, don’t look for a Lillard-to-the-Knicks blockbuster, given that their list of tradeable contracts is increasingly slim after an offseason of splurging.
New York is also boasting a revamped point guard rotation, with Kemba Walker starting and Derrick Rose as his backup.
As good as Lillard is there’s a slim likelihood that they’ll rush to any decision at point guard without a months-on-end trial run with their current personnel.
That’s also the base requirement of the CBA, which dictates that a signed free agent cannot be traded until six months after they put pen to paper on their new contract.
New York Knicks fans riding high off of Broussard’s latest report will have to settle for daydreams of Damian Lillard suiting up in the blue and orange at Madison Square Garden, for now.
But the two parties have struggled to stay separated in the headlines.
Knicks, Lillard a Popular Combo
When the news of Damian Lillard’s impatience with the Portland Trail Blazers surfaced, speculation mounted immediately as to what team would attempt the blockbuster trade.
And the New York Knicks opened things up as the betting favorite to land him over at SportsBetting.ag on June 7th:
Shortly after that, on a June 21st episode of Keyshawn, JWill, and Zubin, Hall of Fame point guard and former NBA executive Magic Johnson made a bold claim on the New York Knicks chances at a star:
Superstars are gonna want to play here now…I think because they made the run and got to the playoffs, and the city is alive about the Knicks, I think now guys are looking and saying ‘Hey if I put myself in that lineup with Julius Randle and Quickley, Barrett, on and on and on, we could do something special.’
And when asked who he thought was ‘the right star’ for the Knicks, Johnson maintained his sights on Lillard:
If Dame was available, to me that’s the right dude. That’s the right guy. He’s got to make a decision here. Does he say ‘Do I stay for one more, and try to give it one more try? or ‘Do I say this summer I want to go?’
Fellow Hall of Fame guard Reggie Miller echoed the same sentiments (via the New York Post) on a June 24th conference call:
To me, I think they need a superstar. For instance, I’m just saying, if they would’ve had a Damian Lillard along with a Julius Randle, that’s something where you can really say, OK, the Knicks are loaded and ready. They are a superstar away from really taking it to the next level.
New York’s Point Guards Look Ready
When the New York Knicks brought back point guard Derrick Rose, fans reacted with mixed emotions.
While happy the team was bringing back their leading scorer from the 2021 postseason, some worried about the former MVP’s durability in a season-long capacity with the team.
Rose has a resume full of different injuries that have held him back since tearing his ACL in April of 2012.
But then the Knicks pulled off the unexpected, bringing Kemba Walker home as a free agent by way of a buyout agreement with the OKC Thunder.
This move placed Rose back into a reserve role, the second-string point guard, and puts less pressure on the aging veteran on a night-to-night basis.
But it’s a double-edged sword, given that Walker’s injury history is a recent one.
The 31-year old guard played 99 out of 144 possible games in his two seasons with the Boston Celtics.
Yet thus far, despite his resting New York’s third preseason game, Walker looks healthy and as dangerous as ever.
His shot isn’t falling consistently just yet, but one can chalk that up to an acclimation period with his new team.
Especially when he’s doing (via @nyknicks on Twitter) things like this, centerstage in basketball’s loudest arena:
And for as much as fans worry about Rose, his 28-point performance against the Wizards should calm any concerns.
For now, the New York Knicks look well prepared for the 2021-2022 season, and a second-straight playoff berth.
Should things not shake out that way, or begin to trend downward in the coming months, then perhaps the Damian Lillard scuttlebutt will prove relevant once again.
Tip-off for October 20th’s regular-season opener against the Celtics is scheduled for 7:30 pm EST.
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