Not even a week has passed since the New York Knicks were eliminated from the playoffs, but people all around the NBA are already focused on what’s next for the team this summer.
With all of Immanuel Quickley, Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson, and RJ Barrett in house, they’ve got the foundations of a winning product moving forward.
This season was the first in eight years that New York made a trip to the playoffs, so you can trust that they’ll approach the offseason with a desire to ride that momentum into a deeper run next year.
It seems a matter of ‘who,’ not ‘if,’ in regards to the Knicks’ plans this offseason.
Lately, the Portland Trail Blazers have been at the center of trade rumors, with Damian Lillard’s future up in the air following another disappointing out in the playoffs.
Yet while the six-time All-Star would certainly make for a huge talent upgrade in New York, Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz thinks Lillard’s counterpart, CJ McCollum, might make for an easier acquisition.
Swartz’ Trade Proposal
In his latest for Bleacher Report, Trade Packages to Fix NBA Playoff Losers, Greg Swartz went through the eight teams outed between the play-in game and first round of the playoffs and made roster upgrades via trade.
For the New York Knicks, he suggested a deal with the Portland Trail Blazers, not for six-time All-StarDamian Lillard though, but his backcourt teammate CJ McCollum:
- New York receives: CJ McCollum
- Portland receives: Immanuel Quickley, Obi Toppin, Kevin Knox II
His logic? The pending teardown and rebuild should Lillard’s apparent feud with the team come to a head:
If Portland indeed tears things down, Quickley and Toppin represent two quality building blocks. While he may never be a true point guard, Quickley already has a terrific floater and is a good three-point shooter. Toppin doesn’t carry the same upside, but should at least be a solid starter with his athleticism and overall feel for the game.
This certainly would be an easier get than the Trail Blazers point guard, who as The Athletic’s Mike Vorkunov recently noted, is likely to command a package more along the lines of what teams paid for Anthony Davis and James Harden.
It Would Take More to Get a Deal for McCollum Done
At first glance, this seems like a steal for the Knicks, a near-robbery of Portland.
Even with the recent reports that NBA teams are viewing the remainder of CJ McCollum’s contract (three years and $100-million) as “slightly negative value for trade purposes,” the Trail Blazers could get more for the guard.
And it’s unlikely that Portland, whether blowing it up or choosing to remain competitive, would accept a package without any of the five first-round picks New York holds over the next three years.
McCollum is coming off a disappointing postseason, sure, but he had a great eighth year in Portland.
The 29-year old averaged career-highs in both points (23.1) and assists per game (4.7) while knocking down an also career-best 40 percent of his 8.9 attempts from behind-the-arc across 47 games played.
Still, that’s exactly why he’s worth the inevitable compensation it would take to land him in New York.
Something like Swartz’s aforementioned package, along with two first-round picks of the Trail Blazers’ choosing makes sense for both parties, provided, again, that they’re interested in rebuilding.
If not, the Knicks could still appeal as a trade partner based on their cap space alone. New York could absorb McCollum’s salary directly into cap space if a trade took place following this year’s draft.
For a capped-out team like Portland, cap space may represent a greater asset than draft picks or young talent.