Knicks secure rebounding machine from Pistons in mock trade

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Memphis Grizzlies, knicks
Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Having lost Isaiah Hartenstein to the Oklahoma City Thunder on a three-year, $87 million deal, the New York Knicks need more support at the center position. Mitchell Robinson remains their primary starter, but relying on him is a risky move, considering his injury history.

Robinson’s Injury Concerns and Contract Situation

The 26 year-old has played over 70 games just once in his career and featured in just 31 last season. He averaged 5.6 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.1 blocks and shot .575 from the field. The problem with Robinson isn’t his talent, since he’s an elite defensive player on the floor, but it’s rather his lack of consistency. He was knocked out of the playoffs after one series against the Philadelphia 76ers, leaving the Knicks incredibly thin against the Pacers.

Dec 8, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA;  New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson (23) looks on during the first half against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

This upcoming season, Robinson has a $14.3 million cap hit and a $12.9 million cap hit for the 2025–26 season. At this point, the Knicks don’t need the additional funds to bring Hartenstein back, so moving him wouldn’t be much of a salary dump; rather, they would be swapping assets with eyes on the future.

Exploring Trade Options with the Detroit Pistons

There may be an avenue for the Knicks to connect with the Detroit Pistons, who could use more experience and scoring potential next season.

Here’s a look at the mock trade between the Knicks and Pistons via The Athletic.

  • Pistons receive Mitchell Robinson, Miles McBride, a 2025 first-round pick (via Detroit) and multiple future seconds
  • Knicks receive Jalen Duren and Jaden Ivey

Assessing the Trade Components

This is certainly an interesting proposal since the Knicks would trade Miles McBride in addition to Robinson, a first-round pick in 2025, and multiple second-rounders.

McBride is on one of the best contracts in basketball for his value. Earning $13 million over three years, McBride averaged 8.3 points this past season, including 1.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and shot .452 from the field and .410 from downtown. During the playoffs, he averaged 11 points and shot .435 from the field. Not to mention, McBride is a solid defensive asset, an underrated factor that boosted his value this past season.

May 14, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard Miles McBride (2) reacts after a basket during the first half during game five of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs against the Indiana Pacers at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Potential Benefits of Acquiring Duren and Ivey

However, the Knicks would be getting Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren in return, two players with upside. Duren is the most attractive in this prospective deal since he’s only 20 years old and a rebounding machine.

Over 61 games this past season for Detroit, he averaged 13.8 points, 11.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists. At such a young age, he has the qualities to be a tremendous asset for a team like New York, which is eyeing a championship next season and would love another physical presence inside.

Duren will count $4.5 million against the cap next season and has a $6.5 million cap hit for the 2025–26 season via a club option. With two more years left of extremely cost-efficient control, Duren would be a great fit for the Knicks and likely provide even more value than Robinson.

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Philadelphia 76ers
Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Ivey, on the other hand, averaged 15.4 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.8 assists this past season over 77 games. Both players have played in a minimum of 60 games for two consecutive years, showcasing their reliability. Ivey shot .429 from the field and .336 from downtown, suggesting he has a bit of work to do with his scoring efficiency. However, he’s only 21 and offers plenty of potential off the bench. Ivey has an $8 million hit this upcoming season and a $10.1 million cap hit for the 2025–26 campaign via a club option as well.

Strategic Considerations for the Knicks

In return, the Pistons would be getting a solid big man in Robinson and a more developed scorer in McBride, who is on an extremely efficient deal. Not to mention, multiple draft picks, including a first-rounder next year, would give the Pistons more room to develop their squad.

Adding some experience and offensive production would be ideal if they are keen on building around Cade Cunningham. From New York’s perspective, some may label this as an overpay, but Duren’s long-term potential is fantastic, and the Knicks may be able to maximize his quality.

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