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The New York Knicks are currently 24-29 and entering a brutal stretch of games on the west coast. After a tough overtime loss against the Los Angeles Lakers this past Saturday Night, the Knicks will face the Utah Jazz, Denver Nuggets and Golden State Warriors. The Knicks are currently 1.5 games out of the last play-in spot in the playoffs. After this West Coast stretch the next could be further out of the playoff picture then when they started. With the trade deadline looming on Thursday, questions arise on what they should do. Last season, it was an easier choice for Knicks President Leon Rose. This season, there's many more options to weigh. Should the Knicks be buyers at the deadline or sell off pieces?
In a perfect world, the Knicks would be buyers at the trade deadline. They could easily go upgrade the biggest need on the team, which is the point guard position. The Knicks have been linked to DeAndre Fox from the Sacramento Kings as they coveted the left-handed scoring machine. Even with Fox on the injured list and having a slightly down season from the previous one, the Knicks could slot him in when healthy and he would be a vast improvement. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst confirmed that Fox is indeed on the Knicks’ radar. However the only way this deal makes sense is if Julius Randle is in the deal.
The Knicks have also been linked to throwing their hat in the ring for port card phenom Damian Lillard. The Portland Trail Blazers executed a trade to send Norman Powell and Robert Covington to the Clippers. It signals the Blazers are willing to strip it down and start over with their head coach Chauncey Billups. Lillard hasn't requested a trade, but could be on the move if they want to completely tear it down.
Photo Credit: USA Today
Bringing in Fox or Lillard would be a massive improvement at the point guard position; the Kemba Walker experiment hasn't worked out and Derrick Rose has yet to come back from injury. But to get one of these pieces, the next would have to give up either draft capital, current players or a mix of both. Would giving up players in a deal for Lillard or Fox put them in the playoff picture? Possibly but who knows if that would be enough.
When the West Coast trips dust settles, the Knicks could be so far out of it that it would be smart to trade the veterans and play the young kids. Kemba Walker, Evan Fournier, Alec Burks and Julius Randle are all available in trade scenarios at the deadline according to multiple reports. Reports have even stated that Walker and Burks would be the first pieces to move. With Julius Randle inconsistent play and attitude as of late, he could be a valuable chip for a contending team. When pressed on trade rumors, Randle pushed back at the media which hasn't helped his cause much in the eyes of the fans. We all know Randle’s play this year has been up and down and not at the level of last year's brilliant Most Improved Player campaign. I don't feel the Knicks can continue to keep Randle as their number one option on this team. I think it's best to trade Randle off for DeAndre Fox and build towards the future.
Photo Credit: Daily Knicks
The young kids are stepping up and should get a majority of the minutes if the next fall out of playoff contention. Quentin Grimes has really shown to be a 3 and D guy that they can use as a valuable piece in the future. We all know Immanuel Quickley is a stud and needs more minutes at the lead guard position. He's a bit erratic with his play so minutes are valuable for him. Obi Toppin is another player that just can't get on the court with Randle soaking up so many minutes. Westchester Knicks sensation Miles McBride continues to improve in the G-League and his name will only continue to be brought up more. In his last 3 games, McBride is averaging 31.7 points, 11 assists, and 7 rebounds for Westchester.
The trade recently for Cam Reddish was a win with fans, but he's barely seen the court since the trade. Burks and Fournier take up a majority of the minutes but trading them will free up time to get a good look at Reddish. We traded a first round pick for Reddish, so you have to evaluate if Reddish can be a part of the future. We all know that RJ Barrett continues to improve year after year. Barrett just posted a career high 36 points against the Lakers this past Saturday night, including a game-tying 3-pointer with 8 seconds to go in regulation.
While it would be nice to see the Knicks go hard in at the trade deadline to improve the team, common sense mandates patients. The Knicks overachieved last season as they were the 4th seed in the playoffs. This season, the Knicks are right where they should be this season, a rebuilding team with a young promising core. The Knicks should look to trade the veterans for some assets or young talent. And plan for the future. We have a core of young players that need minutes and we can build around with one or two more superstars in tow. It's time to move on from the Randle experiment and look towards building the future.