Knicks are looking to deal young guard for a big time addition at the deadline

NBA: Toronto Raptors at New York Knicks
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

With the Knicks pursuing an addition to their rotation ahead of the NBA Trade Deadline, New York is actively looking to center a deal around Quentin Grimes. According to Brett Siegel of ClutchPoints, the Knicks are still heavily involved in the sweepstakes for Dejounte Murray and Bruce Brown, who could both upgrade their bench scoring and make a meaningful impact on the court. By trading Immanuel Quickley and RJ Barrett, it’s been made clear by Leon Rose that the Knicks are gunning for a chance to legitimately compete in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

New York has been on a tear since they acquired OG Anunoby, going 9-2 and sporting one of the best Net Ratings in all of basketball, and they could be a big move away from making noise this upcoming postseason.

Who Could the Knicks Target At the Deadline?

Atlanta Hawks guard Dejounte Murray (5) dribbles against the New York Knicks in the second half at State Farm Arena
Nov 15, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Hawks guard Dejounte Murray (5) dribbles against the New York Knicks in the second half at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Dejounte Murray is one of the most highly sought-after players this trade deadline for a reason, as the proficient scoring guard can jumpstart any offense and generate points with his excellent shooting or playmaking. He’s averaging 21.1 points per game while draining 38.2% of three-pointers on high-volume and proving to be one of the more dynamic scorers at the position. The fit with Trae Young hasn’t been there, and while there would be concern about a potential fit alongside Jalen Brunson, this hasn’t dismayed New York.

While most fans are used to laughing at any move the Knicks pull off, they’ve done an excellent job identifying and acquiring players who noticeably improve the roster, including OG Anunoby. It’s not just a matter of adding Villanova guys or CAA guys, but rather an organization that has correctly identified players who provide value in ways that perfectly match what the team is searching for.

Shot creation is exactly what Dejounte Murray brings to the table and it’s exactly what the Knicks are lacking on their bench, and while he would likely start, he’d also stagger minutes with Jalen Brunson. The 27-year-old guard ranks in the 81st Percentile in three-point shot creation and the 57th Percentile in Points per Possession, and running with a bench unit that has plenty of stellar defenders like Josh Hart and Miles McBride could also allow Murray to concentrate all of his efforts on offense, as he’s in the 96th Percentile in Matchup Difficulty on defense.

That being said, if the Knicks aren’t able to match the high price tag for Dejounte Murray, could they pivot to a cheaper option for their bench unit?

nba: indiana pacers at atlanta hawks, bruce brown, knicks
Jan 12, 2024; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Bruce Brown (11) makes a basket against the Atlanta Hawks during the first half at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

It was made clear almost immediately that Bruce Brown would be re-routed elsewhere after he was sent to Toronto in the blockbuster Pascal Siakam deal. The guard also handles extremely difficult defensive assignments, as he ranks in the 97th Percentile in Matchup Difficulty and the 81st Percentile in Defensive Positional Versatility. Brown isn’t as good of a shooter as Dejounte Murray is, but he can increase the tempo of the offense and provide playmaking.

The Raptors are still looking for a first-round pick for Brown, but perhaps a deal similar to the one made for Josh Hart last year could make sense for the Knicks. A late first-round pick can convert into a quality NBA player, but the Knicks aren’t in the business of finding young players to insert into their starting lineup. The versatility Bruce Brown brings is highly valuable, and the ability to anchor multiple positions alongside his willingness to play in the system should bode well.

What’s unclear is whether it would be wise to deal Grimes for Brown, as while the Knicks would likely get better, increased usage of the younger player could result in a similar boost to the bench. It’s much more likely that if the Knicks were to trade a young player with value, it would be for someone like Dejounte Murray who would unquestionably be a difference-maker.

Leon Rose has his work cut out for him, but expect the Knicks to make a deal before the February 8th deadline as the Knicks look to upgrade a bench that has lagged without Immanuel Quickley.