Knicks linked to trade targets to bolster offensive firepower ahead of trade deadline

Charlotte Hornets guard Terry Rozier (3) dribbles up court  in front of New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson (23) and center Mark Williams (5) during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Charlotte Hornets have not made their starting five experiment work over the last three seasons, leaving the door open for the New York Knicks to make a play for a couple of their talented scorers ahead of the Feb. 8 trade deadline.

Hornets guard Terry Rozier and forward Gordon Hayward are both linked to the Knicks as options to solidify their starting or reserve units in the wake of Immanuel Quickley’s departure, as Kristian Winfield of The New York Daily News noted.

Does Terry Rozier’s Offensive Bag Trump His Inefficiencies?

Rozier is a streaky scorer who possesses great range from outside. Known to be able to break down defenders off the dribble, Rozier has a proven history in the playoffs, having filled in for Isaiah Thomas in the 2018 postseason as a member of the Boston Celtics.

With Jalen Brunson solidified at point guard and O.G. Anunoby providing great two-way play at small forward, an addition like Rozier would give the Knicks a useful scoring threat accustomed to starting and reserved roles.

It is worth mentioning that Rozier is in the midst of a career campaign averaging 24 points on 45.7 percent shooting from the field, which masks his prior inefficient seasons.

Is Gordon Hayward Worth an Investment From the Knicks After Years of Injuries?

As for Hayward, the former 2017 NBA All-Star has yet to find his way back to the pinnacle of his career, especially after his catastrophic ankle injury suffered in his 2018 season opener against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Oft-injured, the what-could-be surrounding Hayward’s name has been more of an appeal than what he’s brought to the court from an availability and execution standpoint. While he has not played over 52 games since 2018-19, Hayward was able to put together a strong 2019-2020 season in which he helped lead the Celtics to an Eastern Conference Finals appearance against the Miami Heat.

Hayward’s ability to find his shot when surrounded by a host of other scorers is worth a look from Leon Rose and the Knicks’ front office. Pertaining to upside, Hayward could give the Knicks a formidable option off the bench and in the starting lineup in certain situations.

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Both Hornets Scorers Are Expensive Options For the Knicks’ Front Office to Mull as Deadline Nears

Hayward’s expiring $31.5 million contract ensures that the Knicks would be able to resign him for less than his current salary while bearing the burden of his injury history.

Rozier is under contract until 2025-26, where he’s set to make as much as $26.64 million in the final year of his deal. That would put him in the same ballpark as Brunson for second-highest paid on the team, as Anunoby is expected to seek $30M annually come the summer of 2025.

The Knicks have the eighth-highest offensive rating (60.7) among all bench units and that number would be subject to rise with either veteran added into the fold.