Front office insider Bobby Marks suggests Westbrook to Knicks scenario

The New York Knicks are trending down with the trade deadline looming.

Despite a more spirited effort in Milwaukee last Friday night than their lackluster loss in Miami, the Knicks were no match to Giannis Antetokounmpo and the defending champion Bucks.

A 3-0 shutdown in their road trip shoved the Knicks (23-27) to 12th in the Eastern Conference and a game outside the last play-in spot currently occupied by the soaring Atlanta Hawks and slumping Washington Wizards, who both carry identical 23-25 record.

With the Knicks spiraling out of the playoff picture, they are reportedly making their veterans available. ESPN front-office insider Bobby Marks suggested a trade that would inject energy and star power to the Knicks’ current roster.

“[If I were the Knicks], I call the Lakers for Russell Westbrook,” Marks said on Zach Lowe’s podcast last Thursday. “I’m offering Kemba Walker, Alec Burks, and Evan Fournier for Russell Westbrook and [Lakers’] 2027 lottery-protected first-round pick.”

The Westbrook experiment in Los Angeles seemed ill-fitted from the start. The Lakers and the Knicks, the two biggest markets in the NBA, need a jolt to salvage their season.

From the vantage point of the Knicks, Marks said Westbrook would be returning to his primary star role with a young supporting cast.

“It’s different than the situation in Los Angeles, where you have six guys and sign guys for the minimum. You’ve got these young kids already there [in New York]. You’ve got 5-6 players under contract next year. You got (Julius) Randle there. You’re not a tax team.”

Westbrook will run the first unit composed of Randle, RJ Barrett, presumably rookie Quentin Grimes and Mitchell Robinson in this scenario. This trade will also open a rotation spot for Cam Reddish in the second unit alongside Derrick Rose, Immanuel Quickley, Obi Toppin, and Nerlens Noel.

“Hey, of all the flaws of Russell Westbrook, that guy competes. He’s a competitor. He’s a wildcard. I’m just watching a Knicks team that is so lethargic right now where their second unit is better than the first. Sometimes, these guys seem they don’t care,” Marks explained.

If it doesn’t pan out pairing another ball-dominant player next to Randle, the Knicks could flip Westbrook’s $47-million expiring contract next summer or ride it out and will still have a future first-round pick from the Lakers for the trouble.

For the Lakers part, the three Knicks veterans will make the LeBron James and Anthony Davis-powered lineup more balanced and deeper. It will also give them the flexibility to maximize James’ remaining window. Next season, the Lakers can choose not to pick up Burks’ team option, and it will be easier to trade Walker’s expiring contract than Westbrook’s current pact.

Lowe said one of those three Knicks veterans will likely get traded, but teams around the league are more interested in one of their young promising players.

“My educated guess is they would deal Fournier. And that would cost them,” Lowe said. “I know the vultures are circling. And they’re getting a lot of calls about Quickley. And I think they’re batting those calls away. They should. But the vultures are circling, and they’re trying to poach somebody from the Knicks, and Quickley is the name that keeps coming up.”

Unless the return is significant, it’s unlikely the Knicks are going to give up Quickley just to get rid of Fournier and his $78-million contract.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

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