Even as the club was 5-6 over its previous 11 games heading into Friday’s bout with the Cleveland Cavaliers — and Julius Randle‘s ankle injury notwithstanding — the New York Knicks are in a sweet spot heading into the NBA Playoffs.
That said, it’s hard to see them overtaking the likes of the Milwaukee Bucks or the Boston Celtics in a seven-game series as postseason play moves beyond its opening round. And while Knicks fans are largely over the moon about where the team is, 40-something-win seasons and second-round exits aren’t the endgame here.
It’s all about getting another banner up beside the ones that Clyde and the Captain raised in the early 1970s.
With that in mind, one analyst just floated a big-time trade turning the Randle-Jalen Brunson twosome into a legitimate Big 3 with current LA Clippers star Paul George jumping into the fray.
B/R: Proposed Deal Swaps RJ Barrett & More for 8x All-Star Paul George
The Paul George play was pitched by Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz, who just dropped his list of “surprising NBA offseason trades to start thinking about now.” Here’s what the hoops scribe had in mind:
- LA Clippers receive G/F RJ Barrett, PF Obi Toppin and C Isaiah Hartenstein
- New York Knicks receive F Paul George
A starting lineup of Brunson, Quentin Grimes, George, Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson with Immanuel Quickley as a sixth man could go head-to-head with the best in the East.
Of course, the big concerns with George — outside of the colossal financial commitment that’s made when any big star is acquired by a team — are his age and overstuffed injury file.
On the other hand, he continues to be a top-20 player in the Association, having averaged 23.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 1.5 steals per contest while shooting 37.1% from deep so far in 2022-23. And he’s a proven winner with 108 career playoff games under his belt.
There’s definitely an element of risk involved here, though, as George could decline early and/or dramatically and mess up New York’s cap situation along the way. Also: Barrett could explode and morph into the decade-plus franchise cornerstone that many Knicks fans still feel he can be.
Even if none of those things were in the cards, though, this particular deal could be a non-starter for the Clips.
Clippers’ Return for George Is Remarkably Lean in This Trade
Where the Clippers are concerned, Swartz noted that “moving from George to Barrett gives Los Angeles a younger wing who’s been far more durable as of late. As good as George is when healthy, he’s failed to play more than 56 games in a season since being traded to the Clippers four years ago.”
And while that’s undeniable, so too are Barrett’s woeful efficiency numbers and inability to consistently play well on the defensive end. His D-rating for the Knicks currently checks in at a whopping 116.3 — the second-worst mark teamwide. Meanwhile, he has never had an effective field-goal percentage on the right side of 50.0.
League average eFG% as of this writing is 53.8.
So, the chances that the Knicks could get a bona fide two-way star in a trade where Barrett is the centerpiece and the only other components are a potentially underutilized role player in Obi Toppin and a returning role player in Isaiah Hartenstein — with no other prospects, picks or assets of any kind — seem pretty low.