2020 NBA Trade Deadline Primer: New York Knicks

by January 11, 2020
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Marcus Morris of the New York Knicks

With the new year now finally upon us, speculation ahead of the 2020 NBA Trade Deadline is in full swing. Whether New York Knicks fans are in consensus about what the team ought to do before the Feb. 6, 2020 cut off or not, anticipation mounts across all fanbases that there will be fireworks.

In this post, just one of a series of 30, we’ll break down the reports that have started to trickle out about Knicks players that may or may not be on the move. While there’s no guarantee when it comes to a league as wild as the modern NBA, it doesn’t hurt to brush up on each squad’s roster as the deadline draws near.

Players Unlikely To Be Traded

  • R.J. Barrett
  • Mitchell Robinson

The list of untouchables for New York likely shrinks to zero should a star somehow try to finesse his way to the city via trade. Short of that scenario, the Knicks are keeping R.J. Barrett and Mitchell Robinson long-term as building blocks for the future. 

The No. 3 pick from the 2019 NBA Draft hasn’t been the most efficient player in the league but he’s shown flashes of a potential star through the first half of the season. Robinson, who was selected with the No. 36 overall pick a year ago, likely would be a top-10 pick if NBA clubs were granted a re-do of that 2018 draft. Both players give the Knicks faithful some hope for the future.

Biggest Name Available On Market

  • Marcus Morris

On a team with numerous power forward, Marcus Morris was expected to be an odd fit. It had been years since he had proven the ability to play the three efficiently, having practically moved to the four full-time during his Boston stint, and it wasn’t clear what the Knicks’ intentions were with regard to his rotation spot. However, Morris has embraced his role as a high-usage wing. At age 30, he’s put forth a career-high player efficiency rating, leading the team in NBA Math’s offensive points added, while creating a potential market for his services that wasn’t there over the summer.

New York could sell high on Morris (the Sixers and Clippers are said to be interested) and some speculate that the franchise could get a first-rounder for him in return. Yet, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News hears that the Knicks would prefer to trade Bobby Portis over Morris and some members of the organization believe that Morris could be a long-term fit with the club, Ian Begley of SNY.TV writes.

Despite some recent success, New York projects to be deep in the lottery again and it seems more likely than not that the team will deal Morris, who is on an expiring deal.

Logical Trade Pieces

  • Bobby Portis
  • Taj Gibson
  • Wayne Ellington
  • Frank Ntilikina

The report signaling the team would like to trade Portis over Morris is concerning for the big man’s future in the big city. He signed a two-year, $30.8MM contract (team option in 2020-21) over the summer but has seen his role dwindle compared to past stops. His 21.3 minutes per game are his lowest since the 2016-17 season. Portis, like fellow free agent additions Taj Gibson and Wayne Ellington, has been eligible to be traded since Dec. 15.

While Ntilikina turned heads at the World Cup over the offseason, he remains a holdover from the Phil Jackson regime that has yet to average more than 22 minutes per game. The Knicks haven’t hid efforts to find other long-term solutions at point guard, as evidenced by the subsequent acquisitions of Smith Jr. and Payton.

Trades Are Possible

  • Julius Randle
  • Elfrid Payton
  • Dennis Smith Jr.
  • Kevin Knox
  • Reggie Bullock
  • Allonzo Trier
  • Damyean Dotson
  • Ignas Brazdelkis

Julius Randle has seen a resurgence under interim coach Mike Miller. Some around the league believe the Knicks would be open to moving the big man, according to Newsday’s Steve Popper. πŸ€ Elfrid Payton has taken control of the starting point guard position in New York, though he’s not tethered to the franchise. His salary for next season ($8M) is non-guaranteed. πŸ€ There were rumors that Dennis Smith Jr. wanted a trade, though the point guard publicly squashed those reports. πŸ€ Kevin Knox, who was selected with the no. 9 overall pick in the 2018 draft, has essentially been a role player in New York. He could have more opportunities if the team deals away some players at the deadline. πŸ€ Reggie Bullock recently returned from a neck injury. The wing is making just $4M this season and will make $4.2M next year, though that salary is non-guaranteed. πŸ€ Alonzo Trier re-signed with the club this offseason and hasn’t carved out a spot in the rotation this year. πŸ€ Prior to the season, Ignas Brazdelkis spoke about how he felt he could compete for the Rookie of the Year award. To date, he’s played eight games for the Knicks.