Knicks Trade Rumors: Players Who Are Already Available

The New York Knicks shouldn’t even consider making a trade this early in the season, but recent trade rumors have presented options.


Nov 10, 2016; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) passes the ball against Los Angeles Lakers center Timofey Mozgov (20) during the second half at Golden 1 Center. The Lakers won the game 101-91. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

It’s only November and trade rumors are already beginning to surface around the NBA. The rumor mill hasn’t yet found its way to The Mecca, but the New York Knicks are always on the lookout for an intriguing opportunity.

Though nothing is even close to imminent, it’d behoove the Knicks to keep an eye on the activity around the NBA before it passes them by.

Some recognizable names have found themselves at the heart of a number of tantalizing trade rumors. Some reports are more legitimate or believable than others, but when one searches for reliable sources, the findings can be remarkable.

In the case of the postseason-starved Knicks, a number of reports paint the picture of an opportunity for New York to make a splash.

The Knicks have a star-studded roster, but their depth has been questioned early in 2016-17. Some have even criticized the starters, but this article isn’t an attempt to replace anyone who’s currently on the roster.

Instead, it’d simply be wise for the options to be laid out and evaluated instead of ignored and cast aside for another team to capitalize on.

Nov 11, 2016; Portland, OR, USA; Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) reacts after scoring a basket over Portland Trail Blazers forward Meyers Leonard (11) in the second half at Moda Center at the Rose Quarter. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings

Take this with the thickest grain of salt that you can find. DeMarcus Cousins has been at the heart of trade rumors for the better part of his career, yet he’s played every one of his first six seasons in the NBA with the Sacramento Kings.

Despite the arrival of a proven head coach in former Memphis Grizzlies frontman Dave Joerger, Cousins could actually be on the move in 2016-17.

Cousins will be an unrestricted free agent in 2018 and the general consensus is that he won’t re-sign with the Kings. That gives Sacramento a limited window to either trade him or surround him with enough talent to help the organization win.

According to Sean Deveney of Sporting News, a rival executive believes the Kings should trade Cousins within the next month if they’re hoping to get fair value.

“I’d say they have three months, tops,” one Western Conference general manager told Sporting News, requesting anonymity because he is not allowed to speak about other teams’ players. “Probably more like a month, or month-and-a-half, because the closer they get to the (February trade) deadline, the less they’re going to get back. If you’re trying to trade him the week of the deadline, it’s going to be tougher.”

The New York Knicks should be keeping a close eye on this development.

Cousins formed an unlikely bond with Knicks star Carmelo Anthony at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. That could create the foundation for Anthony to help Cousins and Kristaps Porzingis develop into the interior duo of the future.

The harsh reality that New York will likely have to face and accept: with Anthony and Porzingis off limits, Cousins is likely to be out of reach via a trade.

There’s always 2018 free agency.

Nov 11, 2016; Portland, OR, USA; Sacramento Kings forward Rudy Gay (8) drives on Portland Trail Blazers forward Maurice Harkless (4) in the first half at Moda Center at the Rose Quarter. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Rudy Gay, Sacramento Kings

Position: Small Forward
Age: 30 (8/17/1986)
Experience: 11th Season
2016-17 Slash Line: .491/.419/.800
2016-17 Season Averages: 34.7 MPG, 22.3 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.4 SPG, 0.8 BPG, 1.3 3PM

Marc Stein of ESPN listed Sacramento Kings small forward Rudy Gay as a player who’s expected to be dealt this year. That’s just one of the numerous reports that Gay is unlikely to finish the 2016-17 season with the Kings.

Gay is unhappy with the Kings’ inability to make the playoffs and wants out—something the New York Knicks could potentially capitalize on.

Trading for Gay may seem like an unnecessary move at the moment, and that may prove true in the long-term. The reality is: the Knicks’ second unit is in dire need of offense and Gay is on an expiring contract.

Whether New York opts to go small-ball by moving Carmelo Anthony to the 4 or brings Gay off the bench as the sixth man, it’d be adding a reliable source of 20 points per game by trading for him.

The primary reason this trade won’t come to fruition is the Kings’ front office. Their players have been overpriced on more than one occasion, which is why Knicks team president Phil Jackson would be wise to pass up on this opportunity.

Landing Gay would be a massive benefit to the Knicks’ offense, but due to Sacramento’s asking price and New York’s roster structure, it seems unlikely that this will ever transpire.

Nov 9, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks power forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) drives against Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez (11) during the third quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Brook Lopez, Brooklyn Nets

Position: Center
Age: 28 (4/1/1988)
Experience: 9th Season
2016-17 Slash Line: .496/.316/.816
2016-17 Season Averages: 25.8 MPG, 19.4 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 1.4 ORPG, 1.0 APG, 1.6 BPG, 1.5 3PM

You can file this under the, “Never going to happen, but fun to think about,” category. Brook Lopez isn’t going to be moving across the Brooklyn Bridge at any point in the near future and it’d be silly to think the New York Knicks have a chance to get him.

True as that may be, one can’t help but feel as though the Knicks should evaluate all possible trade opportunities before dismissing them.

Lopez still doesn’t seem to know how big he is when attacking the glass, but he’s an outstanding offensive player. He has a career average of 18.3 points on 51.1 percent shooting from the field and is a 79.2 percent free throw shooter.

According to Marc Stein of ESPN, NBA executives believe the Nets are open to trading Lopez at some point in 2016-17.

Some rival executives are increasingly convinced that the Nets are open to moving Lopez between now and the February deadline in the proverbial right deal.

The Knicks are unlikely to go in on a potential trade, but it’s worth knowing who the options are.

Lopez is one of the better post players in the NBA, but he’s also a proficient shooter from midrange. He converted 144 midrange field goals on 42.5 percent shooting in 2015-16 and has already hit 12 3-point field goals in eight games in 2016-17.

Lopez would improve the Knicks’ spacing and interior scoring, albeit with a sharp decline in rebounding that could sink New York’s season.

Nov 1, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore (23) shoots the ball over Miami Heat forward James Johnson (16) during the first half at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Ben McLemore, Sacramento Kings

Position: Shooting Guard
Age: 23 (2/11/1993)
Experience: 4th Season
2016-17 Slash Line: .441/.316/.750
2016-17 Season Averages: 19.2 MPG, 7.4 PPG, 1.6 RPG, 1.1 APG, 0.7 3PM

While DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay are unrealistic targets, the New York Knicks could conceivably acquire Ben McLemore. Courtney Lee is safe on the roster and Justin Holiday is showing flashes, but McLemore could be the developable athlete that New York lacks at the 2.

A 23-year-old shooting guard with explosive athleticism and an established ability to convert the 3-ball, McLemore could thrive under head coach Jeff Hornacek.

McLemore made 140 3-point field goals on 35.8 percent shooting from distance in 2014-15 and hit 67 on 36.2 percent shooting in 2015-16. He’s been phased out of the office, but he’s safely regarded as an athletic floor-spacer.

According to David Aldridge of NBA.com, the Kings aren’t just willing to trade McLemore; they’ve been attempting to do so for a year.

Ben McLemore (7th overall), Sacramento: The Kings have been trying to move him for more than a year.

If Hornacek could lead Gerald Green to a career year, then he could help resurrect McLemore’s entire career.

At 23 years of age, McLemore has upside that the Knicks can tap into and develop on a similar timeline to Kristaps Porzingis. Defense is an issue with McLemore, but he has tremendous physical tools at 6’5″ with a near 6’8″ wingspan and a 42.0″ max vertical leap.

With restricted free agency pending, the Knicks could re-sign McLemore for a reasonable cost and have a promising talent to develop over the next four years.

Apr 8, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Nerlens Noel (4) attempts a shot against New York Knicks forward Kyle O’Quinn (9) and guard Langston Galloway (2) during the second half at Wells Fargo Center. The New York Knicks won 109-102. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Nerlens Noel, Philadelphia 76ers

Position: Power Forward, Center
Age: 22 (4/10/1994)
Experience: 3rd Season
2015-16 Slash Line: .521/.500/.590
2015-16 Season Averages: 29.3 MPG, 11.1 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 2.3 ORPG, 1.8 APG, 1.8 SPG, 1.5 BPG

Philadelphia 76ers big man Nerlens Noel is currently sidelined by an issue with his knee that could be the ultimate red flag. After tearing his ACL during the 2012-13 college basketball season, he recently underwent surgery on an inflamed pica.

With joint issues that are following a previous injury that required surgery, it’d be fair to advise the New York Knicks to keep their distance.

When healthy, Noel has flashed genuinely elite defensive potential. He works for rebounds, hustles for loose balls, has active hands in the passing lanes, and has already shown signs of becoming a dominant shot-blocker.

David Aldridge of NBA.com kept it brief when discussing what’s become a well-known belief around the Association: the 76ers are trying to trade Noel.

Nerlens Noel (6th overall), Philadelphia: The 76ers are looking to move him.

With an abundance of big men on the roster, that’s hardly surprising.

By trading for Noel, the Knicks would have two big men in their early 20s who can anchor the defense. As Kristaps Porzingis spaces the floor, Noel can be the pick and roll finisher who plays above the rim.

New York trading for Noel is highly improbable, but a 7’0″ center with a 7’4″ wingspan and guard-like agility will always be on the radar.

Oct 29, 2016; Sacramento, CA, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio (9) speaks with head coach Tom Thibodeau (L) on the sideline against the Sacramento Kings during the third quarter at Golden 1 Center. The Kings won 106-103. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves

Position: Point Guard
Age: 
26 (10/21/1990)
Experience: 6th Season
2016-17 Slash Line: .450/.286/.500
2016-17 Season Averages: 30.3 MPG, 6.5 PPG, 7.4 APG, 3.8 RPG, 1.8 SPG

It’s one of the NBA’s worst kept secrets that the Minnesota Timberwolves will eventually trade Ricky Rubio. Tom Thibodeau, true to form, isn’t yet ready to name rookie Kris Dunn the full-time starter, but that, too, is all a matter of patience.

Considering both of the New York Knicks’ point guards are on expiring contracts, Rubio would solve the issue of having to sign two point guards under a ridiculous salary cap.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, the Timberwolves are simply waiting for Kris Dunn to establish himself before trading Rubio.

There is still time until the 2016 NBA draft’s fifth overall selection, Kris Dunn, takes over as the Minnesota Timberwolves’ point guard – which is why the franchise is still resisting trade overtures for Ricky Rubio, league sources told The Vertical.

Thibodeau’s loyalty to Derrick Rose could create the potential for a Rose-for-Rubio swap at some point in 2016-17. That’d be a dangerous move for the Knicks, however, as Rose is one of the only players on the roster who can consistently create penetration.

Rubio is one of the most well-rounded players in the NBA, however, and combines his defensive proficiency with a cost-efficient contract at $42.3 million through 2018-19.

In 2016-17, Rubio ranked No. 2 amongst point guards in Defensive Real Plus-MInus and No. 2 overall with 2.13 steals per game. Rubio led the league with 3.35 steals per 48 minutes and continue to be one of the best facilitators in the Association.

Rubio’s shot is still horrendous, but if Jeff Hornacek taught himself to shoot by taping his thumb to his hand, then perhaps he could find similar success with Rubio.

Though it all sounds ideal on paper, Rubio’s injury history and erratic nature as a scorer may be too much of a gamble for the Knicks to commit to.

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