Knicks get high-flying star defender for Mitchell Robinson in latest mock trade

NBA: Chicago Bulls at New York Knicks
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

A recent mock trade has the New York Knicks adding an athletic combo guard with top-tier defensive abilities in exchange for Mitchell Robinson.

Heavy Sports’ Collin Loring formulated a trade that sends Robinson to the Chicago Bulls in exchange for Alex Caruso.

Knicks may afford to trade a center for point guard depth this offseason

New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson (23) takes rebound away from San Antonio Spurs forward Victor Wembanyama (1) during the first half at Frost Bank Center
Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

The player-for-player swap makes sense on several levels. For one, the Knicks have a stacked depth chart at center. Word recently broke that breakout five-man Isaiah Hartenstein is leaning toward returning to New York. The Knicks also have Jericho Sims under contract, and Precious Achiuwa, who could forego free agency and return to play for head coach Tom Thibodeau next season. Even if Hartenstein departs for a team like the Oklahoma City Thunder this summer, New York would still have big men to deploy, unlike at point guard.

Conversely, the Knicks are thin at the point. Save Malachi Flynn’s brief 14-game tenure in New York, All-Star Jalen Brunson was the only true floor general they deployed in the 2023-24 regular season, and one of two points guards overall, including Immanuel Quickley, the latter of whom was traded in the winter of 2023.

Alex Caruso can help the Knicks in three areas they need improvement in

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Los Angeles Clippers
Credit: Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports

Caruso is as good, if not more highly esteemed on the defensive end at his position as Robinson is. He followed up his All-Defensive First Team campaign in 2022-23 by taking home Second Team honors in 2023-24. The ball hawk is also uber-athletic, with a lengthy history of high-flying dunks and a proven ability to finish in traffic.

Importantly, the Texas A&M product plays at a fast pace. He thrived running in transition with LeBron James and Rajon Rondo while a member of the championship Los Angeles Lakers from 2019-20. He’d work additional wonders for a Knicks team that saw their most successful season in 24 years directly coincide with a shift in offensive focus from more stalled half-court sets and ball domination to swifter ball movement around the arc and activity on the break.

Caruso is a good shooter too. At 6-5, the seven-year veteran made a career-high 1.9 threes on 40.8 percent shooting from deep for the Bulls in 2023-24. He’s big enough to play next to Brunson at the two either as a full-time starter or sixth man. The Knicks are also reportedly keeping all of their options open in the trade market this offseason, save Brunson. Thus, anyone, including current starting off guard Donte DiVincenzo could see themselves leaving town as the Knicks pursue an All-Star. Caruso and his expiring $9.89 million contract for next season would be more than worth an investment for New York.

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