Nov 23, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Atlanta Hawks forward Thabo Sefolosha (25) dribbles the ball while Indiana Pacers forward Paul George (13) defends in the second half of the game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Atlanta Hawks beat the Indiana Pacers 96-85. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
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The New York Knicks have a rare opportunity to make a trade and save the 2016-17 NBA regular season. Which options should the Knicks consider?
The New York Knicks continue to be one of the most disappointing teams in the NBA. Since beginning the 2016-17 NBA regular season at 16-13, the Knicks have dropped 11 of 13 and fallen to 18-24.
Though some may refrain from entering the realm of trade talk and speculation, it stands to reason that a move needs to be made.
42 games into the 2016-17 NBA regular season, the Knicks are still suffering from the same issues that plagued them in October. The defense ranks amongst the worst in the NBA, the ball doesn’t move as much as it should, and the effort has been inconsistent.
If the Knicks are going to turn this season around, then they must improve upon those three critical points of emphasis.
It’s possible that change could come from within, but the organization must be proactive. As Jeff Hornacek and the players address the flaws at hand, the front office must consider the potential for moves to be made.
The question is: what are the realistic trade options that could save the Knicks from another disastrous season?
Nov 16, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Phoenix Suns forward P.J. Tucker (17) shoots the ball during the first half against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
A Jeff Hornacek Guy
The New York Knicks have suffered a potential setback on the trade market in the form of Lance Thomas suffering an orbital fracture. He’s been ruled out indefinitely and will be forced to wear a protective mask once he returns.
If Thomas recovers in time for the 2017 NBA trade deadline and passes his physicals, however, he could be the perfect player to move.
Phoenix Suns get F, Lance Thomas
New York Knicks get SF, P.J. Tucker
In this trade, the Knicks swap Thomas for a player who better fits team needs: P.J. Tucker. A second-round draft pick may need to be included, but New York and Phoenix would both benefit from this deal.
Oct 10, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks forward Thabo Sefolosha (25) looks on from the court against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the fourth quarter at Philips Arena. The Hawks won 99-93. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
A Swap With The Atlanta Hawks
The Atlanta Hawks need an improvement at the backup point guard position and the New York Knicks need defense. That creates the potential for a swap that would be mutually beneficial if the rumors hold true.
Sources told ESPN.com that the Hawks, fearful of losing Millsap in free agency without compensation in the summer, are not openly shopping him but are taking calls on the 31-year-old and other pending free agents, notably sharpshooter Kyle Korver and swingman Thabo Sefolosha.
That creates an intriguing possibility for the Knicks and Hawks to execute a mutually beneficial swap.
Atlanta Hawks get PG, Brandon Jennings
New York Knicks get SF, Thabo Sefolosha
Losing Jennings would be tough, but you have to give something to get something.
For Atlanta, Jennings would be an upgrade over Malcolm Delaney as a backup to starting point guard Dennis Schröder. Jennings has the invaluable ability to facilitate the offense, is still capable of spacing the floor, and may be the proper system away from a resurgence.
As for the Knicks, the acquisition of Sefolosha would help stabilize the defense.
Sefolosha is averaging 1.8 steals per game—No. 8 in the NBA—and New York ranks No. 23 in the same statistic as a team. Sefolosha is also a smothering defender who can pick up players off the inbound and make life hell for even the best of scorers.
The Knicks are in desperate need of players who can create turnovers and contain No. 1 scoring threats, which makes Sefolosha the perfect target.
Jan 9, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony (7) is escorted off the court after being ejected during the third quarter against the New Orleans Pelicans at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
A ‘Melo Move
If the New York Knicks are going to trade Carmelo Anthony, then the destination will need to be that of a contender. It’s been reported that Anthony would only consider a trade to the Cleveland Cavaliers or Los Angeles Clippers, but it’s worth exploring other options.
Per Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, Anthony will meet with Phil Jackson to discuss his future with the organization.
New York Knicks prez Phil Jackson plans to meet with disgruntled star forward Carmelo Anthony in the next few days, sources told ESPN.
It’s no secret that Danny Ainge is hoping to find another reliable scoring threat, which makes the Boston Celtics an intriguing option.
Boston Celtics get SF, Carmelo Anthony; F, Maurice Daly Ndour; C, Marshall Plumlee
New York Knicks get 2017 First-Round Draft Pick (via Nets); SF, Jae Crowder; PF, Amir Johnson; PF, Jonas Jerebko
In this trade, Anthony would join a Celtics team that wouldn’t be giving up its core to land him. He’d join MVP candidate Isaiah Thomas, All-Defense wing Avery Bradley, and perennial All-Star Al Horford on a team with depth and great coaching.
With the Celtics off to a 26-15 start to the 2016-17 NBA regular season, it stands to reason that Anthony could help elevate Boston to true contender’s status.
For the Knicks, Jae Crowder would represent the long-term acquisition as a borderline elite defender who does a bit of everything on offense. It’s worth noting that Jackson called not acquiring Crowder in the Tyson Chandler trade his biggest mistake as an executive.
Jonas Jerebko and Amir Johnson are on expiring contracts that would clear $17 million in cap space.
Most importantly, the Knicks would receive the Brooklyn Nets’ first-round draft pick. Brooklyn, of course, has the worst record in the NBA. Thus, New York would have the chance to secure the top pick in the draft—and keep its own draft pick.
New York may ask for more, but this deal would better accommodate the timeline of Kristaps Porzingis’ development.