Knicks Trade Rumors: Atlanta Hawks Fielding Offers For Three Players
Dec 21, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap (C) reacts with forward Thabo Sefolosha (L) during player introductions prior to their game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
The Atlanta Hawks appear to be willing to blow up the roster by trading players on expiring contracts. Find out who could be available to the New York Knicks.
The 2017 NBA trade deadline is set for February 23 at 3:00 p.m. ET. That leaves the New York Knicks with less than two months to evaluate the current state of the roster and determine whether or not a mid-season trade is necessary.
Though team president Phil Jackson will remain patient before he commits to a decision, the Atlanta Hawks may have offered reason to expedite the process.
Atlanta is 18-14 and has won four of its past five games, but it has a number of critical decisions to make. Key players are approaching unrestricted free agency and there could be a limit on the price they’re willing to pay to keep them in town.
According to Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst of ESPN, the Hawks are fielding trade offers for three players: Paul Millsap, Kyle Korver, and Thabo Sefolosha.
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.
Atlanta appears open to offers for other players, as well, but Korver, Millsap, and Sefolosha are easily the three biggest names who could be on the move.
Korver, Millsap, and Sefolosha will all be free agents and on the older side of 30 during the summer of 2017. All provide immediate value that ranges from starting-caliber to star-caliber, however, and all will create intrigue around the NBA.
The question is: why should the Knicks care about the three players whom Atlanta has reportedly made available?
Jan 1, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks guard Kyle Korver (26) shoots the ball against the San Antonio Spurs in the first quarter at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Age: 35 (3/17/1981)
Experience: 14th Season
2016-17 Slash Line: .446/.414/.889
2016-17 Season Averages: 28.3 MPG, 9.8 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 2.2 APG, 0.7 SPG, 2.1 3PM
There aren’t many ways better to stabilize an offense than to add a 3-point marksman who moves well without the ball. That’s Kyle Korver’s calling card, as he remain one of the most selfless and efficient scorers in the NBA.
This move only makes sense if the asking price is reasonable, but Korver’s range and efficiency make him an ideal target for Jeff Hornacek’s offense.
Even at 35 years of age, Korver is one of the best shooters in the NBA and a well-conditioned athlete. He’s known for being the ultimate catch-and-shoot threat, but he’s developed an underrated ability to help facilitate the offense.
Korver won’t be confused with an offensive juggernaut, but the former All-Star is a team player who can help New York improve its offensive efficiency.
Korver has made at least 150 3-point field goals in four consecutive seasons and is on pace to do so again in 2016-17. He’s already converted 65 3-point field goals on 41.4 percent shooting in 2016-17—more than any Knicks player not named Kristaps Porzingis.
It’s unlikely that the Knicks will make a move for Korver, but landing a sharpshooter on an expiring contract wouldn’t be a terrible idea.
Dec 30, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap (4) shoots the ball against the Detroit Pistons in the third quarter at Philips Arena. The Hawks won 105-98. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Position: Power Forward
Age: 31 (2/10/1985)
Experience: 11th Season
2016-17 Slash Line: .444/.318/.760
2016-17 Season Averages: 34.1 MPG, 17.8 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 1.7 ORPG, 3.7 APG, 1.5 SPG, 0.9 BPG, 1.1 3PM
Easily the most ambitious of the three trade options is three-time All-Star and 2016 All-Defensive Second Team honoree Paul Millsap. As one of the most versatile players in the NBA, Millsap could fill any number of roles for the New York Knicks.
A trade would likely cost too much to get done, but Millsap would be worth most asking prices due to his invaluable presence on both ends of the floor.
Millsap currently ranks No. 14 in the NBA in Real Plus-Minus and No. 5 in Defensive Real Plus-Minus. He’s one of five players averaging at least 17.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.0 steal, and 1.0 3-point field goal made in 2016-17.
The other four players on that list are DeMarcus Cousins, Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Russell Westbrook.
Whether it’s a matter of individual production or value to the team, Millsap ranks amongst the best in the NBA. He also has 81 games of postseason experience, including 36 starts and an unforgettable 45-point eruption in Game 4 of Atlanta’s series against the Boston Celtics in 2016.
It’d be tough for New York to put together a strong enough package to land Millsap, but he’s the type of star who would legitimize the Knicks’ postseason aspirations.
Nov 30, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Atlanta Hawks forward Thabo Sefolosha (25) against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Suns defeated the Hawks 109-107. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Age: 32 (5/2/1984)
Experience: 11th Season
2016-17 Slash Line: .469/.317/.756
2016-17 Season Averages: 25.8 MPG, 7.9 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 1.6 APG, 1.9 SPG, 0.6 3PM
Of the three players listed, Thabo Sefolosha would undoubtedly be the most practical of trade targets. It would behoove the New York Knicks to see Justin Holiday’s development through, but Sefolosha is one of the best on-ball defenders in the NBA.
The Knicks would solidify the defensive perimeter with the acquisition of a positionally versatile swingman whose presence on defense could prove invaluable.
Sefolosha has 88 games of postseason experience, including 69 starts. He can defend shooting guards and small forwards at a borderline elite level, and can space the floor when utilized in an off-ball capacity.
Sefolosha’s offense isn’t nearly as consistent as the Knicks would like it to be, but his defensive proficiency is rivaled by few around the NBA.
Sefolosha plays with the raw tenacity that the Knicks have been searching for on the defensive end of the floor. He refuses to quit on defensive possessions, creates turnovers with his length and activity, and makes a respectable effort on the defensive glass.
As the league leader in steals per 48 minutes, the statistics support Sefolosha’s reputation as one of the most overwhelming perimeter defenders in the NBA.
Atlanta may not be the team New York ends up dealing with, but all three of the rumored possibilities are worth considering in light of Jeff Hornacek’s comments that the defense may need outside help.
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