How should the Knicks move forward after Mikal Bridges & OG Anunoby power plays?

NBA: New York Knicks at Brooklyn Nets
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Decisions, decisions. The New York Knicks’ trade for Mikal Bridges on Wednesday put them one step closer to competing for a championship next season and beyond. The Knicks would be wise to strike again while the iron is hot and round out their championship roster in the making.

New York is a team that appears to be one of two more moves away from giving the defending NBA champion Boston Celtics and the league as a whole a real scare.

The Knicks should do (almost) everything possible to acquire Paul George

Apr 9, 2024; Phoenix, Arizona, USA;  (New York Knicks) LA Clippers forward Paul George (13) handles the ball against Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant (35) during the first quarter at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

As presently constructed, the Knicks are the best they’ve been in 25 years. However, bringing 2024 All-Star Paul George in from the Los Angeles Clippers could be that final piece that makes New York the favorites next season.

The Knicks could say goodbye to Julius Randle and package him along with a role player like Josh Hart and a draft pick, in a blockbuster deal for George. If the Fresno State product foregoes his $48.78 million player option for 2024-25, the Knicks would be wise to free up cap space to bring him on board. A 1-2-3-4 lineup of Brunson, Bridges, Anunoby, and George would give the squad two 25 PPG scorers, a third that can complement them with 20 points of his own in Bridges, and a player in Anunoby whose impact goes beyond the numbers.

It would also give the Knicks a former MVP candidate who is battle-tested in the playoffs, an elite two-way option, and frankly an upgrade from Randle as their No. 2 option. New York’s lineup would be able to switch everything on defense and connect from deep better than any Knicks team probably ever.

Hang on to Donte DiVincenzo

May 17, 2024; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; New York Knicks guard Donte DiVincenzo (0) reacts after a made basket during game six of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs against the Indiana Pacers at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

There wasn’t a single more impactful role player next to Brunson in 2023-24 for the Knicks than Donte DiVincenzo. His skill in moving without the basketball, finding open spots on the floor, and shooting lights out from deep without needing excess time to possess the ball allowed the Knicks to play fast and smart.

He and Brunson have chemistry with Bridges from their days spent together at Villanova. That feel could translate at this level and create an offense that flows like water. DiVincenzo set the franchise’s single-season three-pointers made record with 283 in 2023-24. Whether or not the Knicks traded for Bridges, he’d be worth prioritizing as untouchable In the open market. His college mate only heightens that.

Now that New York has Bridges and resigned Anunoby, the starting backcourt and small forward spots are all locked up. DiVincenzo could do what he did in college and with the Milwaukee Bucks and be the Knicks’ microwave off the bench.

Acquire a Sixth Man of the Year-caliber point guard & center for bench depth

When the Knicks had Immanuel Quickley coming off their bench, their second unit thrived. Once they lost the 15 points he was automatic for as a reserve, Miles McBride and Precious Achiuwa held down the fort well. Albeit, the need for a dynamic playmaker on their second unit needs to be addressed.

The Knicks could go two ways from here. Exploring a trade that sends Mitchell Robinson or one of their other role players to the Utah Jazz for Jordan Clarkson could give the Knicks a fourth bonafide 20 PPG scorer. Clarkson would be a failsafe if Brunson gets injured again in 2024-25. He can also play both guard positions and facilitate.

May 2, 2024; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Kyle Lowry (7) controls the ball against the New York Knicks during the second half of game six of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

There are other names out there like Kyle Lowry that would also do the trick. As for center, the Knicks are facing the reality of losing Isaiah Hartenstein and Precious Achiuwa in free agency. Replacing those two archetypal big men would be ideal. A rim-running defender has been the recipe for their success under Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau, and a mobile big that can slide over to the four would also give New York dexterity in their frontcourt.

The Knicks have a salary cap situation to settle. Finding a cost-effective center that can bring down the $27.26 million Robinson has left on the last two years of his deal would allow them to pull off the two aforementioned moves while giving Jericho Sims a greater role in the rotation.

A combination of these power plays would make the Knicks as strong as any team in the league. The Larry O’Brien trophy would no longer be a hope but a realistic prize within reach.

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