Knicks reportedly eyeing 2 big names for center depth

NBA: Houston Rockets at Sacramento Kings
Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Marc Berman of the New York Post is reporting that the New York Knicks have been looking at two big men with serious upside. First is Alperen Sengun, who has been a revelation for the Houston Rockets as one of the best young scoring bigs in the NBA. Given his contract situation, Houston could be looking to move off of him and instead extend young guard Jalen Green, but Sengun brings a strong scoring option who has seen improvements on the defensive side of the ball. The other name is Jalen Duren of the Detroit Pistons, who doesn’t turn 21 until November and has excellent rebounding prowess.

Given their interest in Walker Kessler of the Utah Jazz as well, it’s clear that Leon Rose is looking to see if he can pull off a splash in the trade market and bolster the team’s center depth.

Jalen Duren and Alperen Sengun Could Be on the Knicks’ Radar

NBA: Houston Rockets at Sacramento Kings
Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Alperen Sengun is the most established name of the two, averaging 21.1 points per game on solid efficiency as he has the playmaking and rebounding chops to replace Isaiah Hartenstein on offense. What he doesn’t bring to the table is the elite-level defense Hartenstein had, as while Sengun jumped from a -0.6 Defensive EPM to a +0.5, it’s still not close to what you were getting from the newly-signed OKC Thunder. He and Jalen Green are a tough fit, but perhaps he could take another leap alongside two elite defensive wings like OG Anunoby and Mikal Bridges.

The defensive concerns are legitimate and the price tag would likely be high, bringing into question the logistics of pulling off a trade like this one. As for Jalen Duren, perhaps he’s more attainable as the Pistons could be looking to get more draft capital and further build up their future assets as they continue their rebuild under new management. Some fans may remember that Duren was a draft night trade for the Knicks, who helped them clear payroll and sign Jalen Brunson back in 2022.

NBA: Detroit Pistons at New York Knicks

Jalen Duren averaged 13.8 points per game with 11.6 rebounds, and he could evolve into the kind of defender that the Knicks would love to have someone like him on the glass. He led the NBA in defensive rebounding percentage (33%) and has the chops to be a steady force in the paint, especially under Tom Thibodeau, who has consistently gotten the most out of center in his time with the Knicks. People forget that Isaiah Hartenstein was a journeyman big who didn’t have much value on the market relative to the player he is today.

It’s not going to be easy (or realistic) to replace the value Isaiah Hartenstein brought to the table for the Knicks, but if they can land one of these two bigs, they would certainly get closer to having the kind of roster that can take down the Boston Celtics.

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