Though the New York Knicks may have gotten a bit thinner up front with the recent injury to Mitchell Robinson, some of the folks at Bleacher Report seem to believe that a trade sending backup big man Isaiah Hartenstein outbound could still prove to be a worthwhile move for the club to make.
Perhaps perceived as a bit risky on the surface, writer Mo Dakhil recently constructed a deal that would cut down the ever-so-slim center rotation even more, as the proposal sees the 24-year-old being shipped out to the Mile High City of Denver, Colorado.
The trade package concocted reads as follows:
New York Knicks receive:
- 2024 second-round pick
- 2025 second-round pick
Denver Nuggets receive:
- Isaiah Hartenstein
While Dakhil’s reasonings behind why such a deal could be executed mainly focused on the positives it would bring to the Nuggets, as they are the legitimate title contender in this scenario and are in “serious need for a backup center,” he believes the Knicks should be willing to partake in the transaction, primarily because it would clear up minutes in the frontcourt that could lead to more experimentation such as sophomore big man Jericho Sims coming across a more consistent role.
“The trade would make them thin at center, but the Knicks should look to spread his minutes around. Give more minutes to Jericho Sims, whose per-36 numbers are comparable to Hartenstein’s,” Dakhil said.
The superiorly athletic Jericho Sims has certainly passed the eye test when given extended run on the hardwood during his second season in New York, and his averages of 7.7 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks on 75.8% shooting from the floor when receiving 20-29 minutes certainly back up the idea that he’s deserving of more action within Tom Thibodeau’s rotation.
In Dakhil’s eyes, he’s done enough to warrant consideration for a larger role for the Knicks, and trading away Hartenstein could be the first step toward making this happen.
Knicks Could Roll Out Toppin, Randle Tandem
Along with the greater opportunities that would likely come for Jericho Sims, Dakhil would go on to note that trading away Isaiah Hartenstein would simultaneously open the door for Tom Thibodeau to experiment with the oft-discussed, yet rarely utilized frontcourt tandem of Julius Randle and Obi Toppin.
“Experiment with playing Obi Toppin and Julius Randle. Playing small would not be a bad idea for New York,” Dakhil said.
A pairing that has yet to fully see their fair share of minutes together, before this season Randle and Toppin had only seen a total of 294 possessions together, according to Cleaning the Glass. Through the first few months of 2022-23, while on pace to surpass the aforementioned cumulative number, they still have only registered in with a mere 144 possessions played.
Finding a way to generate success out of such a frontcourt duo could prove to have several positive effects, with a notable one possibly being the tampering down of trade rumblings involving their 2020 lottery pick who, just within the last few months, has been reported as being a target for a few rival ball clubs.
Knicks Could Pursue Veteran Big Man
Though Dakhil seems to be under the impression that the Knicks could look from within when it comes to better filling out minutes at the team’s center rotation, SNY’s Ian Begley believes that they could pursue a trade for former NBA Champion Serge Ibaka to bolster their talent at the pivot.
“Three weeks is a big big chunk of time, especially at this point in the season when you’re approaching the trade deadline. I wouldn’t expect the Knicks though to fold up the tent and start to tank for the upcoming draft, this team is not built that way…If the Knicks look elsewhere for options, you know, Serge Ibaka with Milwaukee is certainly an option if you’re looking for a replacement during Robinson’s absence,” Begley said.
Currently in his 14th season in the association, the big man has made a name for himself as being a lethal rim protector–a skill set that would come in handy with the absence of Mitchell Robinson–and a steady frontcourt floor spacing option who 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.