Potential Knicks Trade Target Viewed as Legitimate Buyout Candidate

Tom Thibodeau, New York Knicks

Getty Head coach Tom Thibodeau reacts in the fourth quarter against the Indiana Pacers.

Though the majority of attention has been focused on the February 9 trade deadline and the potential deals that could be seen executed, what has seemingly been forgotten is the buyout opportunities that come post-deadline day and, in the eyes of one NBA writer, there’s a possible New York Knicks target that could find himself becoming available.

In a February 6 piece penned by Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus, several players were discussed as being potential buyout candidates, with names ranging from seasoned veterans to underwhelming recent lottery selections.

One player, in particular, was 33-year-old big man Serge Ibaka, who SNY’s Ian Begley claimed to be a possible trade target for the Knicks following Mitchell Robinson’s right thumb fracture back on January 18.

While The Athletic’s Shams Charania did report on January 20 that both Ibaka and his current employers in the Milwaukee Bucks have mutually agreed to work together to find a trade for the big man, Pincus believes that he could wind up staying put past the deadline, thus making his claim for a buyout very likely which, should this happen, could have many postseason-bound teams interested.

“How much does Serge Ibaka have left to offer? He and the Bucks have agreed to part ways, but can he help a contender if no trade evolves? At 33, he’s certainly experienced, now in his 14th season. Last year, Ibaka split time with the Bucks and Clippers, contributing 16.2 minutes a game. A playoff team wouldn’t be looking for much more, just an experienced veteran to fill spot minutes,” Pincus wrote.

Since entering the league back in 2009, Ibaka has made a name for himself as a lethal rim protector and a steady frontcourt floor spacing option and boasts impressive career averages of 12.0 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game on 51.3% shooting from the floor and 35.9% shooting from deep.

A three-time All-Defensive selection, two-time blocks champion, and a player who played a pivotal role for the 2019 NBA Champion Toronto Raptors, Ibaka certainly has the credentials to fit into a Tom Thibodeau-led system and, with the Knicks’ lack of proven rim protectors behind the oft-injured Mitchell Robinson, one could make the argument that he’d be a quality addition for the club, be it via trade or the buyout market.

Knicks Guard Listed as Buyout Option

On Pincus’ list, the Knicks saw one of their own players tabbed as a potential buyout option, with Derrick Rose serving as somewhat of an honorable mention, if you will.

Found under the “other potential buyouts” category, the article would note the point guard’s age and salary and highlighted the fact that New York has already cut him out of their rotation as a sign that there’s a possibility the club will look to part ways with him in the near future.

Several others could join the list of free agents, including Derrick Rose of the New York Knicks. Rose is a longtime favorite of Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau, but the team has gone with younger guards. Rose is 34, and New York isn’t likely to pick up his team option for 2023-24 at $15.6 million,” Pincus wrote.

Pincus would, however, continue by suggesting that despite the rumblings of New York’s desires to “do right by” the veteran with a trade, considering the specifications of his contract, the ball club may simply choose to keep him “just in case his salary is needed for a trade past this season.”

Though Rose may be on the outside looking in on a spot within the rotation for the Knicks this season, since 2018-19 he holds per-game averages of 14.9 points, 4.2 assists, and 2.5 rebounds on 47.2% shooting from the floor and 35.7% shooting from deep.

With this proof of production, there’s a strong case to be made that, if given a bigger role, Rose could find himself serving as a valuable rotational piece coming off the bench for any team looking for some backcourt and scoring help.

Knicks Guard Opens Up on Future

Sunday evening, estranged wing Evan Fournier managed to come across a considerable amount of playing time, logging just shy of 24 minutes against a divisional rival in the Philadelphia 76ers.

With this bump in action, the 30-year-old went on to post an impressive state-line of 17 points while shooting 54.5% from the field and 62.5% from beyond the arc and, ultimately, helped lead the Knicks to win number 29 on the season.

During the night’s post-game media session, reporters asked Fournier whether he believes his performance could help earn him an increased role within head coach Tom Thibodeau’s rotation moving forward. The veteran was rather blunt in response, as he made it clear that he does not envision such a scenario will happen.

“I don’t think so. I think he’s set on his nine-man rotation. It was like a fun one-night stand…We’ll see, I mean, throughout the course of a season there’s always, you know, sometimes a guy’s sick, sometimes there’s an injury, so, you know, I’m sure I’ll have another chance to play but I don’t think he’s going to change anything,” Fournier said.

Since November 13 Evan Fournier has seen on-court action on just nine separate occasions and, for the season as a whole, as played in just 22 games while posting averages of just 7.1 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 1.6 assists.

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