After a second-round exit last season, the New York Knicks are on a path of reformation and focus. With a promising 47-win season, Knicks fans are optimistic about the future. However, the team still has room to improve further. There are three potential blockbuster trade candidates that the Knicks could target to become genuine contenders in the upcoming season.
Could the Knicks still pull off a Donovan Mitchell deal?
After being traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Donovan Mitchell stood out in the smaller market in his sixth season. Leading his team to a solid 51-win season and averaging a career-best 28 points per game in 2022, Mitchell was simply box office; 71-point career-high level box office. If there is any opportunity for the Knicks to acquire a player of Mitchell’s caliber, New York should jump at the possibility.
Mitchell’s time in Cleveland could be short-lived. Washington Post NBA writer Tim Bontemps expressed doubts in Cleveland’s ability to retain the superstar, saying, “I don’t think there’s any chance he signs an extension there ever. And if it was up to me, I would trade Donovan Mitchell today.”
A Mitchell deal would be unlikely to get done mid-season, however. New York would be wise to wait for the summer as matching Donovan’s salary via trade would likely result in the Knicks parting ways with one of their best young players in Julius Randle, Jalen Brunson, or RJ Barrett.
Can the Knicks beat the buzzer and trade for Damian Lillard?
On May 25th, the Knicks emerged as the odds-on favorite to land the seven-time all-star Damian Lillard if he became available. The prospect of having “Dame Dolla” in New York City is enticing, but the Miami Heat appear to be Lillard’s preferred destination. The Heat are reportedly the only team willing to pay the steep price tag of players and future draft picks that the Trailblazers are seeking.
“As I look across the league and have conversations with executives and agents, I can’t identify another team that is seriously making an offer for Damian Lillard at this point,” said ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. “My belief is that the Heat can’t either.”
With talks between the Heat and the Blazers at a standstill, the Knicks could attempt to pull off a buzzer-beater deal for Lillard. The Knicks have the pieces necessary to make a Dame-level trade and if they were to pull it off, it could be the move that catapults the Knicks into becoming legitimate championship contenders.
Pascal Siakam would be a perfect fit for the Knicks’ defensive-minded culture
Pascal Siakam’s name has surfaced in trade talks for several off-seasons. The former NBA champion is the face of the Toronto Raptors franchise following the departure of teammate Fred Vanfleet to the Houston Rockets.
Siakam had an outstanding season in 2022, averaging 24 points and 5.8 assists while leading the league in minutes per game. The Raptors are not in a position to contend for a championship, causing teams around the NBA to keep a close eye on Siakam.
The Magic, Pacers, and Hawks are all reportedly eyeing Siakam as they attempt to build formidable defenses to slow down some of the Eastern Conference’s powerhouses.
Plugging Siakam into the Knicks’ defensive-minded culture playing alongside “The Sergeant,” Julius Randle, and under the tutelage of head coach Tom Thibodeau could be the move that takes New York to the top of the Eastern Conference.