There are nine days remaining for NBA executives to wheel and deal. The Feb. 20 Trade Deadline is quickly approaching and there have been few trades thus far this season. The New York Knicks, however, need to be one of the most active teams in trade talks in the forthcoming days. In the woeful Eastern Conference, the Knicks could still win their division and earn the third seed. They can easily grab an eighth seed if nothing else, despite their 20-31 record which has them in 10th place in the East.
But none of this will happen, and if it does, the Knicks will be knocked out almost immediately from the playoffs, unless they make several strategic moves before the deadline. The first of which will be improving at the point guard position. There are several candidates out there: Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics and Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors are the Knicks’ two highest point guards on their shopping list. Both of these players are available because of their impending free agent statuses, Rondo after next season and Lowry this offseason, otherwise their respective teams would not consider trading them.
The Raptors are very likely to engage with the Knicks, having an impressive history of making the Knicks look foolish in player exchanges. However, a deal here would be difficult to pull off with the Raptors likely only willing to do it if the Knicks include a future first rounder, which they’re nearly out of at this point, as well as the only player on the team that has given the Knicks fans something to cheer about all season long: Tim Hardaway Jr. With the future clearly not a concern of the Knicks’ brass, trading Hardaway and a pick for Lowry would instantly improve their chances this season, so the Knicks could be enticed.
If Rondo wanted, he could force a trade from the Celtics to the Knicks, but there have been no such requests coming from Rondo’s camp of yet. A deal could make sense for the Atlantic Division rivals here with the Knicks sending Amar’e Stoudemire‘s $20-plus million contract that will expire after next season for the returns of Rondo, who would likely sign an extension, and Gerald Wallace, who has three years and $30-plus million left on his deal. The Knicks would likely have to throw in a pick here, but they would be wise to do so — Rondo is a difference-maker.
I don’t see either of these trades going down, but if one does, I’d put my money on the Knicks desperately giving the Raptors whatever they want for Lowry.
The next trade being bandied about recently involves Denver Nuggets power forward Kenneth Faried and Knicks guard Iman Shumpert. Both players were drafted in 2011, with Shumpert going 17th to the Knicks and Faried 22nd to the Nuggets, so the Knicks already passed on Faried once. They tried engaging with Denver earlier this season in what was essentially the same trade, but to no avail. And it will likely unravel the same way this time around as well. Both players are among the best from the 2011 draft class, but have struggled mightily this season. As currently constructed, neither of these rosters would be made better by bringing in the other player. Denver knows this, the Knicks might not — but all it takes for a trade to fail is one team knowing it makes no sense.
Faried isn’t coming to the Knicks.
The only trade the Knicks will likely make is sending out disgruntled point guard Beno Udrih. The Washington Wizards are early favorites to land his services as they are in serious need of a better backup to John Wall. This trade could easily happen with the Wizards sending the Knicks a future second-round pick.
Let’s make this simple. For all the Knicks fans reading rumors and headlines about the Knicks bringing in outside help — don’t get your hopes up. The Knicks haven’t made a good trade since 1999 when they brought in Latrell Sprewell, and we know that that Knicks team was an entirely different beast.