Knicks: Trade target to bolster their interior defense ahead of the deadline

Washington Wizards center Daniel Gafford (21) blocks the shot of New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) in the second quarter at Capital One Arena
Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks have seen many changes to their lineup at center in recent weeks. More changes could be on the horizon as the team may look to trade for another center before the deadline.

Knicks Have an Abundance of Centers With Varying Health & Activity Statuses

Mitchell Robinson went down with an ankle injury and has the remainder of his season hanging in the balance. The Knicks signed Taj Gibson for reinforcements and then wound up cutting him shortly after.

The OG Anunoby trade brought Previous Achiuwa to town, who has since stepped into a reserve role behind breakout starter Isaiah Hartenstein.

Jericho Sims, who was Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau’s favored option to replace Robinson in the starting lineup a season ago has battled injuries of his own and has also seen time with their Westchester G League affiliate this year.

Daniel Gafford Identified as a Quality Trade Option For the Knicks Bench

Amidst all of the changes, ESPN’s Tim Bontempts suggests, per Heavy Sports’ Alder Almo, that the Knicks go after Washington Wizards center Daniel Gafford as a backup to Hartenstein, saying:

“The guy that I think would be really interesting for the Knicks is… Daniel Gafford,” Bontemps said on the “Hoop Collective” podcast. “And if the [Washington] Wizards do look to move Gafford, you pair him with Isaiah Hartenstein [and] you get back to what was one of the real Knicks strengths before Mitchell Robinson got hurt, which say you had 48 minutes of high-quality above-average-to-really-good center play.

Gafford is a mobile center with nimble moves in the interior. At 6-10, Gafford would give the Knicks an interior presence that they don’t have in abundance. Though lacking in volume, he ranks in the top 20 in pick-and-roll offense among all screen setters and also has a soft touch inside of 10 feet.

Gafford Offers Production That Will Help Spell For Mitchell Robinson Until He Returns

Additionally, Gafford offers rim protection at a steady rate. He is currently sending back a career-high two blocks per game and has notched at least one BPG every season of his career.

With an 11.8 percent offensive rebounding percentage, his 2.8 boards on the offensive side of the ball rank No. 14 league-wide. He’s one of only four players in the top 15 doing so in under 26 minutes of play.

The Feb. 8 trade deadline is one month away, leaving the Knicks with pressure to round out their roster for a championship chase this summer.

They could opt to retain their current lineup at center and hope that Sims can come back soon, and Robinson by the end of the year. If both remain hampered, having a guy like Gafford would give the offense a new element that could be invigorating for the second unit.

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