When it comes to the New York Knicks, it doesn’t feel like free agency unless they’re being linked to every star that’s rumored to be available or disgruntled in their current situation.
And according to an Eastern Conference executive who spoke to Heavy.com under the condition of anonymity, the Knicks could potentially be a landing spot for Chicago Bulls star Zach LaVine should he be serious about wanting to leave his current situation once free agency begins.
“It’s possible the Knicks could get in on LaVine, though he probably wants to go to the West Coast if he has a say in the matter. But the only way it happens with Chicago is the Bulls getting back R.J. Barrett. If the Knicks are willing to put him in a deal, they might have something worth talking about.
“If it is Julius Randle the Knicks are offering, forget it, that is not getting it done. If you are the Bulls, you probably will take back (Evan) Fournier, Barrett, and their old friend Derrick Rose, then try to get the Knicks to include one of their upcoming picks. Or they could push for (Obi) Toppin instead of Rose,” the executive said.
Moving on from Barrett would be a tough decision for the Knicks, as they continue to flit between developing their young core and building a team that’s capable of challenging for a championship in the immediate future. Any move for Lavine would signal that the front office has decided to push their chips all-in, which at the moment, does seem unlikely.
Could LaVine Help New York Make a Deep Playoff Run?
If you’re looking at LaVine, he projects as an exceptional second star on a contending team, but his presence alone isn’t going to catapult you into the playoffs – especially if you’ve lost Barrett and potentially Obi Toppin to get the deal done.
However, if Julius Randle can re-discover his 2020-21 form, and the Knicks can find a starting-caliber guard, they’ll certainly be a force in the Eastern Conference moving forwards. Yet, there are lessons to be learned about throwing a team together in the hopes of instant success, and when you look at the current NBA Finals, both teams have built their cores via the draft and invested considerable resources into allowing their young talent to blossom into stars.
Still, adding a two-time All-Star who is still only 27 and averaged 24.4 points, 4.5 assists, 4.6 rebounds on 47.6% shooting from the field, and 38.9% shooting from deep, on a long-term deal is incredibly enticing for a Knicks franchise that has been starved of star-level talent in recent years.
Would the Knicks Make the Trade?
Giving up Barrett and potentially Toppin doesn’t seem like a move this front office would make, at least for a player like LaVine, that doesn’t project to be the first option on a contending team.
For the Knicks, Barrett, Toppin, Immanuel Quickly, and even Mitchell Robinson if he re-signs, are their best trade chips moving forward, using them at this early point in their careers for a secondary star could come back to haunt them further down the line – especially if one or two of them develop into stars themselves.
It’s far more likely that New York continues building for the future with its current core intact while looking to plug gaps with improved talent. This is why so many rumors at the moment currently revolve around the point-guard position, as it’s been a problem area for multiple years at this point.
Still, if the Knicks do want to add a star to their roster this summer, LaVine might be one of the more attainable names on the market, but that doesn’t mean his fit within the roster drastically changes their trajectory in the short term.