The New York Knicks have been making headlines about making big moves in the recent lead-up to the draft and free agency. The Knicks haven’t been a contender in ages; they haven’t had a consistent superstar since Carmelo Anthony, and their roster is thin on top-end talent. While they don’t have top-end talent, the Knicks have young talent that other teams can develop, and role players who would be of value in terms of production. Those assets should allow the Knicks to make splashes on the trade market.
2020 has been a wild year not only in real life but also in the free agency end. Despite the free agency market not being that great, there are a lot of rumors of stars getting traded. While those rumors may not come to pass, the fact remains that teams are talking. Another fact: if the Knicks are in play, it could mean big moves for New York instead of fringe signings. Here is how the Knicks can create a badass superteam and compete in New York.
5. Sign Paul Millsap, Joe Harris, or Jae Crowder
It seems like Paul Millsap has been in the league since forever. Millsap is a savvy veteran and Former All-Star: his talent is undeniable and he’s become great at staving off father time. With the Nuggets having up and coming talents like Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, they will likely pivot to building a contender which is more in line with their timeline of contention. Millsap will turn 36 in February, and the Nuggets could let him go to pay other players.
Millsap has been a defensive anchor for any team he’s been on: during his time with the Atlanta Hawks, he became an All-Star due to his two-way prowess. At this stage of his career, Millsap has become a great floor spacer as well. Essentially, Millsap is the quintessential PF who can shoot and defend. His role on offense would be limited, but that’s the beauty of having a superteam: some players won’t need to score that much. If Millsap signs with this hypothetical superteam, he’ll have a chance to compete in a weaker conference and win it all.
Joe Harris and Jae Crowder play the same role: they’re wings who can shoot and defend. Harris is better on the shooting end, while Crowder is better on the defensive end. They’re both veterans who can play a role. Harris is an amazing shooter who has won the 3PT contest before. Jae Crowder can play both forward positions and is a switchable defender who would be extremely valuable to any team. Both veterans could be attracted by a big market, and Harris, in particular, wouldn’t have to move very far as he played for the Brooklyn Nets last season.
4. Sign Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony is an indisputable Knicks legend. Anthony spent many years with the Knicks, dazzling Madison Square Garden with his sublime scoring. However, ever since getting traded from the Knicks, Anthony hasn’t had a consistent place in the league, bouncing around the league before finding a good fit in Portland with the Trail Blazers. Anthony is an elite scoring and spacing option on a good amount of nights; while he’s gotten older, he’s still an effective scorer in a limited capacity.
The Knicks should bring back Carmelo Anthony in free agency. Aside from Anthony being a legend, he is still a good contributor. With Portland, Anthony showed that he still has a place with the league. Combine that with his willingness to take pay cuts to be on winning teams, and you have a good situation for a former legend. Carmelo Anthony wouldn’t miss the opportunity to be part of a superteam; why not with the Knicks?
3. Trade for Chris Paul
New York Knicks Receive: Chris Paul
Oklahoma City Thunder Receive: Bobby Portis, Taj Gibson, Dennis Smith Jr., Kevin Knox
Chris Paul has had a renaissance with the Oklahoma City Thunder this year. Paul made the All-Star game at the age of 34 while taking the Houston Rockets to 7 games in the playoffs. Despite his early playoff exit, Paul had a great overall season. Paul has been linked to the Knicks in the media, and the Knicks could try and get the scintillating floor general. Paul would be a good player for a team in win-now mode; he is a point guard that can do everything. At this age, teams may not want to make Paul carry the scoring load: but on a team with other stars, his playmaking would be extremely valuable.
The Knicks would send away Dennis Smith Jr. and Kevin Knox who are young players with some upside. Dennis Smith Jr. is an athletic point guard, while Knox is a wing who could develop into a floor spacer and defender. Bobby Portis is a passable floor spacer (35.8% from 3PT) and Taj Gibson is a good rebounder and defender. This combination of players should be enough to get an aging All-Star; the Thunder would most likely welcome solid young players and contracts they can trade to other teams.
2. Trade for Russell Westbrook
New York Knicks Receive: Russell Westbrook
Houston Rockets Receive: RJ Barrett, Elfrid Payton, Wayne Ellington, a mid-level contract (Sign and Trade), 2020 No. 27 overall pick
Russell Westbrook had an awful Orlando bubble, but the fact remains that Westbrook had an All-Star season, averaging 27.2 PPG. Westbrook is also the 2016-2017 MVP and averaged a triple-double for 3 years in a row in OKC. Despite Westbrook having a mammoth contract, he is still an effective player. Westbrook’s biggest issue is his inability to space the floor; in this hypothetical team with 4 players who can space the floor, that issue could be mitigated.
The Rockets most likely want to get rid of Westbrook; there have been rumors that Westbrook requested a trade. By trading Westbrook to the Knicks, they would get an elite young prospect in RJ Barrett. RJ Barrett is a good wing who can do a little bit of everything; his biggest issue is inefficiency and the lack of structure on a developing franchise. Wayne Ellington is an okay shooter, while Elfrid Payton is a good playmaker. The mid-level contract is to match salaries.
The pick itself could be used to draft a player that can develop in the G-League and get future spot minutes. This package would build the Rockets’ future for them.
1. Trade for Joel Embiid
New York Knicks Receive: Joel Embiid
Philadelphia 76ers Receive: Mitchell Robinson, Julius Randle, Frank Ntilikina, 2020 No. 8 overall pick
The trade for Joel Embiid would herald a new era in New York. The Knicks haven’t gotten a player of his caliber in a while, and with all the trade rumors surrounding Philadelphia, it would be natural for the Knicks to get in the mix with the trade talks. Joel Embiid would bring a great inside presence to the Knicks on both ends. Embiid can bully players inside while stepping outside for a long-distance jumper. On the defensive end, he’s passable on the perimeter, all while being an elite shot blocker. Embiid would be great for the Knicks, but they would need to give up a lot to get him.
This trade package for Embiid package two of the Knicks’ most valuable assets: Mitchell Robinson and the No. 8 overall pick. Robinson would provide them a younger option to develop while replicating Embiid’s production on the defensive side. The No. 8 pick would allow the 76ers to draft a shot-creating guard who spaces the floor. Ntilikina could still develop into a good defensive point guard, while Randle would likely be a candidate for another trade. This return for Joel Embiid is undoubtedly not the worst, and the Knicks could put this deal out there to start their road to contention.
If the Knicks were to assemble this superteam, they’d be a team full of current and former All-Stars. Creating it would mean giving up all their assets; it could all be worth it. The talent would be undeniable, and they would be a clear favorite to make it out of the East. This roster would be well balanced in terms of scoring and defense; it would also have two elite playmakers. While this hypothetical Knicks team would be very boom or bust, their upside would be immense: talent alone could carry them to the Finals.