The New York Knicks should be preparing for what could be their most important offseason in years. As noted by Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report, “New York needs to be honest and decide” between trying to compete right now or cutting ties with veterans and preparing themselves for the future.
After finishing as the fourth seed in the 2020-21 season, the Knicks fell all the way down to 11th this past year, missing out on the Play-In Tournament entirely. With how poorly Julius Randle played this past year, choosing to rebuild around their young core could prove to be the right decision, and based on a recent prediction, they could potentially make a trade to help further that decision.
Grant Hughes of Bleacher Report wrote an article on May 27 titled “1 Bold 2022 Offseason Prediction for Every NBA Team.” In the article, he predicted that Michael Porter Jr. may have played his last game for the Denver Nuggets.
The 23-year-old forward only appeared in nine games for the Nuggets this past year due to season-ending back surgery. Porter entered the league with injury issues, but when healthy, he was a core piece in Denver’s rotation.
Despite this, Hughes believes the Nuggets could end up trading him, opening up the doors for the Knicks.
Nuggets ‘May Not Be as Tied’ to Porter Jr. Anymore
Tim Connelly, the person who drafted, signed, and extended Porter Jr., just left the Nuggets for the Minnesota Timberwolves, In turn, Calvin Booth, the head of Denver’s front office, may not be as interested in the young forward.
“Connelly is not only the executive who presided over the decision to draft Porter, but he’s also the one who paid him,” Hughes noted. “Calvin Booth, who’ll step into Connelly’s vacated role, may not be quite as tied to the young forward.”
Hughes said that this could lead to the Nuggets using him as trade bait.
“Add to that the Nuggets’ need for reliable depth on defense (which even a healthy Porter wouldn’t provide), plus the urgency to field a winner right now as Nikola Jokic is racking up MVPs, and it isn’t so hard to see Denver cutting bait on Porter,” wrote Hughes.
If the Nuggets do decide to place Porter Jr. on the chopping block, the Knicks should place a call. With how stacked the Eastern Conference is, taking a chance on a young scorer could boost New York’s potential moving forward. The question is, what would they have to give up?
Potential Knicks-Porter Jr. Trade
While New York may not have the most enticing package, they would be able to give the Nuggets some quality depth in exchange for Porter Jr. The Knicks could offer a an assortment of Evan Fournier, Alec Burks, Cam Reddish, Nerlens Noel, and others.
As mentioned by Hughes, the Nuggets could be on the hunt for defensive-minded depth this summer. Burks is a quality defender and would give them a versatile player who can play a variety of positions. In addition, Noel would be able to give them solid backup center minutes as a defensive specialist.
Reddish would give the Nuggets a cheaper option who still has the potential to grow into a quality rotational piece. Fournier could be of interest, as, despite his down season, he’s still a quality scorer. The Knicks could also dangle Julius Randle in the deal, but the Nuggets would likely be looking to clear up cap space rather than take on a giant contract.
There may be better offers on the table if the Nuggets decide to make Porter Jr. available, but this one gives them plenty of flexibility. Burks, Noel, and Reddish will be off the books by 2023-24, giving the Nuggets some cap space to work with.
If Porter Jr. does become available, New York should do their due diligence and inquire about a potential trade, as he could help bridge the gap into the new era of Knicks basketball. His injury concerns may be a risk, but his upside more than makes up for it.