Over the weekend, rumors surfaced that the New York Knicks were offering a package to the Minnesota Timberwolves for their star player Kevin Love. The Timberwolves declined their offer of Amar’e Stoudemire, Iman Shumpert and Tim Hardaway Jr.
Hey, no harm in trying if you’re the Knicks, right? The worst they can say is no, which the Wolves wisely did. None of those players are on the current playing level of Love and there weren’t any draft picks involved, so it would be tough to accept that. This weak offer brings up the question, do the Knicks have the assets to make a blockbuster trade this season?
To answer it quickly, I would say not at the moment. This comes as an interesting debate because I do feel that the Knicks have a talented team, which usually translates to nice chips to trade. Their two best players to trade would be Carmelo Anthony (who is their best player and isn’t going anywhere) and the young and inexperienced Hardaway Jr. The Michigan-man had an excellent first year, making NBA All-Rookie first team. He showcased his gift of talent on the offensive end with his marksmanship from downtown and his athleticism in the open floor, but his passing and defensive struggles did not go unnoticed. Hardaway’s 3.8 available rebound percentage and 5.8 percent assist percentage are marks that sit at the bottom in NBA history for players his size (per Basketball-Reference.com). Anthony had his worst field goal percentage dip with Hardaway Jr. on the court compared to any other player. He has to get better at playing a team game, which the Knicks did not do much of anyway.
As for Stoudemire and Shumpert, well, both have major flaws. Stoudemire won’t be as hard as he normally would be to add into a trade because of his expiring contract at the end of the season, and cap space is something that excites any NBA front office. His current talents, which aren’t too great, won’t factor too much into a trade based on that. Shumpert, on the other hand, is entering his fourth year in the league and has a lot to prove if he wants his stock to go up. He has proven to be a very talented defender on a relatively bad defensive team in New York. What stands out with him are his atrocious shooting numbers, shooting 37.8 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from three in 2013-14. Despite his youth and athleticism, these numbers can be scary for any team to take a chance on, and the trio the Knicks offered the Timberwolves would not make up for the loss of a talent like Love.
Other players on the roster the Knicks could try and move would be Andrea Bargnani and J.R. Smith, but those two would be tough to get rid of as well. Bargnani has an expiring contract, but after some injuries and a couple of viral videos on the internet displaying his bad play he might not be on the top of team’s wish list. Smith, who tends to get sidetracked on the court and become an off-court distraction, isn’t an ideal pickup. Shane Larkin and Cleanthony Early are two young and unproven talents teams would be looking at, but they are highly unlikely to be moved; and if they are thrown in the Love trade, I’m not sure it will make much of a difference.
The Knicks have been busy this offseason. President Phil Jackson hired a new coach in Derek Fisher and re-signed his star in Anthony. He traded away Raymond Felton to improve the team’s chemistry, and not only did he do that, but he also made the team better and got two picks in the NBA draft a night before it happened when they had none. Now, the team is looking younger and better, but it is still working out a lot of things from a disastrous season in 2013-14. With the current assets on their roster, I don’t see the Knicks making a blockbuster trade this year; they just don’t have the pieces. They have a first-round pick in 2015 and a couple of big expiring contracts, so if they wait one more year their team has the potential to become completely different without a trade anyway.