Despite their loss to the Toronto Raptors on Monday night, the New York Knicks are currently in the midst of a strong comeback campaign that was largely inspired by their wild start to December. Jalen Brunson has been a huge addition, and Julius Randle is even putting up numbers that are similar to those of his All-Star campaign from 2021. The Knicks are currently sixth in the Eastern Conference, which would guarantee them a spot in the playoffs if the season ended right now.
The Knicks, however, cannot afford to take their success for granted. Even though the Knicks are one of the few NBA teams that currently rank in the top 10 for both points scored and points allowed per 100 possessions, there is always room for improvement. The Knicks have a tonne of draught assets and the contracts required to complete a blockbuster trade, as we saw this past offseason. They nearly traded for Donovan Mitchell, after all.
However, if the Knicks wanted to establish themselves as a legitimate playoff team, an upgrade on the margins seems to be the most logical course of action. These four players might need to make room for that to happen.
The Knicks could trade these four players to improve their chances of contending in the postseason.
It’s not hard to understand why Evan Fournier is a part of every single significant Knicks trade proposal. Fournier is the ideal addition to a trade that could return an important player for the Knicks because of his $18 million salary this season. The 30-year-old Frenchman has significantly underperformed in comparison to expectations in the Big Apple, where he could have been that impact player.
After making a lucrative move to the Empire State, Fournier struggled to find his Orlando Magic form during his first season there. He also had the lowest field-goal percentage of his career.
Aside from the occasional appearance when the Knicks are shorthanded, his subpar play has landed him in head coach Tom Thibodeau’s doghouse, which has only made things worse for him. It is therefore quite evident that a divorce would benefit the Knicks as well as Fournier. If only leaving the NBA was that simple, especially for a player like Fournier who is bound by an onerous, protracted contract.
Therefore, despite their best efforts, the Knicks may find it very challenging to get rid of Evan Fournier, especially since his contract remains in place through the end of the 2024 season.
Derrick Rose is still well-liked by the public, and that won’t change as long as the former NBA MVP is on a team. Rose is obviously no longer as beloved by the Knicks coaching staff as they once were.
Rose has been demoted to fourth on the Knicks’ depth chart for point guards as a result of the addition of Jalen Brunson and the continued growth of Immanuel Quickley and Miles McBride. In spite of being in good enough health to participate, Rose hasn’t touched the ball in the last six games.
Therefore, finding a good deal where Rose, the youngest MVP in NBA history, could receive regular minutes might be in the best interests of both the Knicks and Rose. The Knicks also appear eager to treat Rose fairly. Rose, though, is not without controversy.
Rose hasn’t played much this season and he’s already 34. The amount of gas he has left is therefore unknown. He makes $14.5 million this season, so his contract isn’t the easiest to trade. However, there might be a team out there willing to take a gamble that Rose will at the very least continue to play like the playoff Rose from 2021.
Cam Reddish, who was acquired from the Atlanta Hawks in January 2022, has failed to win the respect of head coach Tom Thibodeau. Reddish has already been replaced in the Knicks’ pecking order by second-year 3 and D wing Quentin Grimes, and that doesn’t seem likely to change any time soon.
The Knicks may therefore be left with no choice but to attempt to dangle Reddish in an effort to recover the draught asset they forfeited in return for his talents. Additionally, Reddish is apparently easily tradeable for the low cost of two second-round picks. Even yet, given that he is in the final year of his rookie deal, potential suitors may still be leery of having to sign him to a long-term contract in just a few months.
Isaiah Hartenstein had a strong 2021–22 season serving as the Los Angeles Clippers’ backup big man, and he was able to capitalize on it by landing a two–year, $16 million contract in the free agent market. Last season, Hartenstein played a significant role for the Clippers as a high post-offensive hub endowed with exceptional court vision for a man of his height.
He has occasionally appeared lost and unsure of his role in the Knicks’ offense, which has prevented them from making the most of him. Jericho Sims would take over the backup position in a trade with the Clippers, a team that could acquire Hartenstein by using a trade exception and return draught assets to the Knicks.