The New York Knicks surprised a lot of people this year. After finishing with a 21-45 record last year, the Knicks were the 5th seed in the Eastern Conference with a 41-31 record. Led by All-Star Julius Randle and the coaching genius of Tom Thibodeau, the Knicks were a joy to watch every night. But unfortunately, the Knicks season ended rather quickly.
The Knicks lost in 5 games against the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the playoffs and were no match for the better team on both ends of the floor. Julius Randle had a poor postseason averaging under 30% shooting from the field, while the Knicks mainly relied on the play of 33-year old Derrick Rose. The Knicks were a solid team but they need a superstar player to take them to the next level.
As good as Randle and Rose are, they need more to avoid first-round exits. For a potential trade, the Knicks can offer Obi Toppin, Kevin Knox, Immanuel Quickley, Mitchell Robinson, and 2 separate 2021 first-round picks. Here are the 3 unrealistic and 3 realistic targets for the New York Knicks next season.
3 Unrealistic Targets
3. Brandon Ingram
The Knicks will need to build around Julius Randle, RJ Barrett, and Derrick Rose to have any success in the coming seasons. Acquiring 24-year old All-Star Brandon Ingram is the best way to continue building a contender in the Eastern Conference. Ingram averaged 23.8 PPG and 4.9 APG for the Pelicans this season and is one of the best small forwards in the NBA.
Unfortunately for Knicks fans, Ingram will not be coming to New York. The Pelicans are hell-bent on keeping their dynamic duo of Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram for the long-term, and even the attractive trade package the Knicks can offer will not be enough. New Orleans will reject any offer the Knicks put on the table for Brandon Ingram.
2. Damian Lillard
Damian Lillard is always on the radar for a lot of NBA teams. With the hopes, he gets fed up with the mediocrity in Portland, New York is one of those teams dreaming of a new franchise superstar. Lillard was once again dominant at his position by averaging 28.8 PPG and 7.5 APG for Portland and is in a 2-3 deficit in the first round against the Denver Nuggets despite a legendary 55-point performance in Game 5.
The Trail Blazers could rebuild with the Knicks' offerings if Lillard eventually demands a trade out of Portland, but Lillard will most likely want to join a contending team. New York is a big market for a big player like Damian Lillard but they are not a certain contender yet which makes this scenario unrealistic.
1. Kawhi Leonard
There is a lot on the line for the Los Angeles Clippers this season. Down 2-3 against the Dallas Mavericks in the first round, an early exit could shape the Clippers' future forever. Will Paul George continue to be trusted, or will he be moved? Most importantly, is Kawhi Leonard going to put up with this for much longer? If the Clippers choke again this season Leonard is very likely to consider his options elsewhere. There are few places better than New York.
The Knicks could use Leonard's two-way dominance and they could recreate another version of the Toronto Raptors squad that won in 2019. But considering what Leonard passed up to be in his hometown Los Angeles, it is unlikely he will leave. Leonard is back where he truly belongs and that means the Knicks don't have a shot at acquiring the 2-time NBA champion.
3 Realistic Targets
3. Bradley Beal
Bradley Beal was a force on offense this season. He averaged 31.3 PPG and carried a heavy burden at the start of the season while the Wizards were struggling to win games. Washington did their best to make the playoffs but they fell badly in 5 games to the favored Philadelphia 76ers with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Unfortunately, that also meant Russell Westbrook couldn't make it out of the first round.
Bradley Beal is an All-Star shooting guard but he doesn't have enough in Washington to win, even if Westbrook averaged a triple-double this year. Beal wants to play for a good team and he could be better off playing in the Eastern Conference rather than the Western Conference. The West is stacked with multiple good teams while he can form a very strong team in New York under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden.
2. Karl-Anthony Towns
Towns is struggling to win games in Minnesota. Despite averaging 24.8 PPG and 10.6 RPG, the Timberwolves missed the playoffs and had no shot of being a difficult team to play against. The team fired their head coach and there are a ton of questions about the future of Towns in Minnesota. He is too good to be on a team playing in the lottery every year. Towns fits perfectly in New York, and a deal works for both parties.
Towns and Randle are an excellent duo in the frontcourt because they can do everything including run the floor, and both stars have an inside and outside game. Towns also gets the spotlight as he is one of the best young stars in the NBA. For Minnesota, they rebuild with Toppin and Quickley while acquiring picks in exchange for trading their franchise player.
1. Jimmy Butler
A ton of critics and fans had egg on their faces when Jimmy Butler made the NBA Finals last year with the Miami Heat. Butler is one of the best two-way players in the NBA and plays harder than almost every star in the league, but Miami have failed to improve this season and could be in trouble if they can't acquire another star. As things stand, Brooklyn, Philadelphia, and Milwaukee are all miles better than the Miami Heat.
The biggest reason why the Heat would trade Jimmy Butler is money. Reportedly, he could ask $181 million extension and the final year of his contract will have him making $50.6 million at age 36.
Butler with New York is a match made in heaven. He gets to reunite with the Chicago Bulls crew of Derrick Rose, Tom Thibodeau, and even veteran Taj Gibson. This was the core that helped Butler reach All-Star status in Chicago and they all want to win. Butler gets a shot at guiding the Knicks to the NBA Finals and his winning mentality will do wonders for the growth of All-Star forward Julius Randle.