The New York Knicks desperately need to shake things up this off-season if they want to put together a competent team that’s capable of reaching the postseason. This year, they witnessed significant limitations on both sides of the ball, especially with Julius Randle regressing.
Injuries provided a bit of inconsistency, and the Knicks’ youth players didn’t get as much playing time as they probably should have given Tom Thibodeau’s strategy, but adding an elite defensive player in Rudy Gobert fits the mold perfectly for the identity Thibs is building.
After ranking as one of the best defensive teams in basketball back in 2020, the Knicks’ efficiency plummeted to 11th. Gobert would be a huge plus, and opening up a bit of salary relief would be beneficial, especially if the front office has Jalen Brunson from the Dallas Mavericks in mind.
Nonetheless, let’s take a look at a mock trade scenario that could present adequate value.
Knicks mock trade with the Utah Jazz:
Knicks give up:
-2023 1st rounder
-2023 1st rounder (Dallas)
NBA Analysis originally came up with this specific mock trade, which seems to be reasonably fair given the Knicks can’t afford to add any more youngsters to the equation, and Gobert is a match made in heaven for Tom Thibodeau.
This season, Fournier averaged 14.1 points and shot 39% from deep. Fournier set the single-season record for the Knicks in three-pointers made, but that doesn’t make him a good defender.
Fournier proved to be a massive liability on the defensive side but was a solid scorer for the majority of the season. The Knicks might be looking for more consistency on defense, but unloading his contract would be the critical move here.
Moving on from Cam Reddish seems to be probable at this point since he only averaged 6.1 points over 14.3 minutes of play. Trading for Cam made little sense at the time since injecting a small forward into a team that didn’t utilize that position was odd. He made little to no impact, so we should expect the Knicks to include him in potential trade offers.
Trading Derrick Rose would hurt every Knick fan’s heart, but at 33 years old and battling a few injuries last season, it might be time too to inject more young talent into the position. Brunson would obviously fit the bill, and since Rose averaged just 12 points last year and played in 26 games, the team needs a bit more reliability at the point guard position.
Giving up at least one first-round pick from this year is something the Knicks have to do. Adding more young talent to the roster is normally a benefit, but they are struggling to get their current players enough time to develop as it is.
Jazz gives up:
Acquiring Gobert immediately injected arguably the best defensive player in basketball into the Knicks’ lineup. This would be a dream come true for Thibodeau, but it would all but guarantee the departure of Mitchell Robinson.
Gobert averaged 15.6 points, 2.1 blocks, 0.7 steals, and 14.7 total rebounds, a career-high this season. Gobert is only 29 years old, meaning he’s in the prime of his game and ready to make a significant impact on the biggest stage — The Mecca.
However, he comes with a sizable contract, five years, $205 million. Rudy is projected to earn $38 million next year, but he’s well worth the money at his age. His contract will consistently increase until 2024, when it caps out at $43.8 million before a 2025 player option kicks in.
Taking on a contract of this size is something the Knicks need to think long and hard about, but his value is unparalleled as a defensive player. If New York’s young players can rise to the occasion and offer great play at a cost-controlled price, this team could be ready to compete within the next two years.