John Hollinger suggests how Knicks can land Lonzo Ball, Victor Oladipo

The New York Knicks point guard woes is nearing the red alert level with Immanuel Quickley (sore ankle) joining Elfrid Payton (hamstring) and Derrick Rose (health and safety protocols) at the sidelines entering Thursday’s game against the visiting Orlando Magic.

The Knicks are left with Frank Ntilikina and two-way player Jared Harper as the only point guards. New York coach Tom Thibodeau would only break the emergency glass and reach for Harper when push comes to shove. But against the Magic, who are also without their top two point guards, Thibodeau can survive with Ntilikina in the starting lineup. RJ Barrett and point-forward Julius Randle will be helping in playmaking. Alec Burks will again be the Knicks’ part-time point guard.

But this band-aid solution won’t get the Knicks over the hump in their playoff push.

John Hollinger, the former Memphis Grizzlies vice president of basketball operations and now a front office insider for The Athletic, suggested two trades that could help the Knicks immediately and set them up for the future.

Solving Knicks PG woes

In a trade deadline talk with William Guillory, The Athletic’s New Orleans Pelicans beat writer, Hollinger threw a wild trade scenario that would land Lonzo Ball in New York.

Hollinger’s trade proposal:

Knicks will acquire

  • Lonzo Ball
  • JJ Redick
  • Jaxson Hayes

Pelicans will acquire

  • Mitchell Robinson
  • Elfrid Payton
  • Austin Rivers
  • Ignas Brazdeikis
  • Dallas’ 2021 first-round pick
  • lightly protected 2021 Knicks first-round pick

Hollinger noted that it’s an overpay, but it’s the only way the Pelicans should be tempted to part ways with Ball, who has turned the corner after a slow start to this season.

Ball is coming off a career-high 17 assists and 11 points in the Pelican’s one-point loss to Portland Trail Blazers the other night. His shooting, which has been his game’s perceived weakness, is coming along well this year. He’s a reliable 39 percent three-point shooter on 7.7 attempts this season. More importantly, he’s shooting 47 percent of his corner 3s, per Cleaning the Glass.

This trade, according to Hollinger, will help the Knicks’ playoff push with Ball and Redick. It would also be easier for the Knicks to retain Ball’s services in the offseason as they could match any offer sheet he can get in the market.

It should be noted that the Mavericks have now entered the Western Conference’s playoff picture after a slow start. They have now won seven of their last 10 games. If the Mavericks continue their upward trend, the 2021 first-round pick they owe to the Knicks in the Kristaps Porzingis trade will land outside the lottery.

Firepower help

The other deal Hollinger proposed in his column today is for Houston Rockets’ Victor Oladipo.

Hollinger’s trade proposal:

Knicks will acquire

  • Victor Oladipo
  • Sterling Brown

Rockets will acquire

  • Frank Ntilikina
  • Kevin Knox
  • Detroit’s 2021 second-round pick
  • Minnesota’s 2021 second-round pick
  • $5.2 million cash

Hollinger noted that Oladipo’s Bird Rights would give the Knicks some wiggle room in roster construction next season as they could retain him without using the cap room.

Oladipo is coming off his best game in Houston uniform against his former coach Nate McMillan and the soaring Atlanta Hawks. Oladipo played like an All-Star in that 109-117 loss last Tuesday, leading the Rockets with a season-high 34 points on 13-for-20 shooting, including 4-of-6 from 3. He also handed out five assists and grabbed three rebounds in 41 minutes.

Before the game, McMillan provided clues as to why he believes Oladipo could soon return to the elite level he once was.

“I was with him last season,” McMillan said. “I know what he has done to commit to getting his body back to as close to what he was before the injury. He has invested in making sure he has everything he needs as far as trainers and doctors and putting in the work to get to that point.”

Oladipo proved McMillan right on the court that night.

Now, it’s up to the Knicks whether they believe that Oladipo can get back to that level consistently under Thibodeau.

If yes, cashing in on the Mavericks’ pick, as Hollinger suggested, could do the trick.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

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