This time last offseason, the New York Knicks were found deeply intertwined within the trade rumor mill, as they were reported to be heavily in the running for then-Utah Jazz All-Star guard, Donovan Mitchell.
Of course, fast-forward a year later and we find the 26-year-old coming off his first season as a member of the ultimate winners of the sweepstakes, the Cleveland Cavaliers, while the Knickerbockers still possess the vast majority of assets rumored to have been on the table in their 2022 negotiations.
In the eyes of Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley, the franchise should now look to shift its sights on the trade market by attempting to use some of these aforementioned luxuries in an entirely new blockbuster, one that centers around Philadelphia 76ers superstar pivot, Joel Embiid.
Recently, the seasoned writer constructed a hypothetical transaction he coins as being “realistic.”
New York Knicks receive: Joel Embiid, P.J. Tucker
Philadelphia 76ers receive: Evan Fournier, RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley, Isaiah Hartenstein, 2024 first-round pick (top-12 protected, via WAS), 2025 first-round pick (top-four protected, via MIL), 2028 first-round pick, 2030 first-round pick
Embiid is a name that has been often linked to the Knicks this summer as a presumed desired trade target. Back in July, it was even reported by 76ers beat reporter Keith Pompey that the franchise was “praying” for the superstar center to request a trade out of Philadelphia.
To Buckley, considering they’ve held onto the undesirable contract of Evan Fournier for so long, the Knicks are likely looking to make some sort of splash in the trade department at some point in the near future, and, to him, an exchange headlined by the two-guard and RJ Barrett for Embiid and P.J. Tucker should be strongly considered.
“The fact that the Knicks haven’t split from Fournier just yet suggests they want to use his salary as part of an internet-breaking blockbuster. This would absolutely qualify. New York would empty most of its asset collection, but in doing so, it would bring back the reigning MVP,” Buckley wrote.
“The Knicks have interest in Embiid—as 28 other teams probably do—who could be the missing superstar who moves them into full-fledged championship contention. Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle get a lot harder to handle if opposing defenses have to account for Embiid first. Tack on Tucker, a three-and-D swingman with 102 playoff games under his belt, and New York could see this as a title-delivering trade.”
Embiid is coming off a career-defining season in 2022-23, as he finished with astounding per-game averages of 33.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.0 steals, and 1.7 blocks while shooting 54.8 percent from the field while earning both his sixth All-Star and All-NBA nod as well as his first MVP award along the way.
Evan Fournier Dishes on Future Plans With Knicks
Easily the biggest storyline of the summer for the Knicks has been the situation with the previously mentioned veteran swingman, Fournier, and his highly questionable future with the franchise.
Since being removed from head coach Tom Thibodeau’s rotation early on last season, rumors have circulated nonstop regarding the possibility of a trade. To this point, however, nothing has yet to be made official and, in turn, he remains on the team’s payroll.
As a result, his future is hard to determine at this time, and, during a recent interview with Eurohoops, Fournier provided a rather blunt and straight-to-the-point answer about what he plans to do should he find himself staying put in New York come the start of the 2023-24 season.
“As you know, it’s not in my hands. If the Knicks want to keep me, I’ll have to stay. If they want to trade me, I’ll have to go,” Fournier said.
The wing may have improved his stock on the open market with his impressive play during the World Cup, as he averaged 24.0 points and 3.0 rebounds on 45.9 percent shooting from the field throughout the tournament.
Steve Kerr Praises Knicks Wing Josh Hart At FIBA World Cup
Fournier isn’t the only one impressing people with his on-court play during this year’s FIBA World Cup, as fellow Knicks cohort Josh Hart has caught the attention of his Team USA head coach Steve Kerr for his efforts during the festivities.
“People ask ‘what position does he play?’ He plays winner,” Kerr said. “He gets loose balls, he guards anybody. At one point, [Erik Spoelstra] turned to me and said ‘Some people get 50/50 balls [but] he gets the 30/70 balls.’ He just makes these plays with his effort and with his physicality and his toughness but also his skill.”
Hart has brought the same pizzaz and energy to the World Cup that immediately endeared him to Knicks fans upon his arrival back in early February, and has found himself sporting impressive averages of 4.3 points and 9.0 rebounds per game while boasting a sensational box plus-minus of +23.3.