Knicks waive veteran big man to create flexibility, roster now down to 14 players

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at New York Knicks
Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

As the Knicks continue their roll since the OG Anunoby trade, the team looks forward in hopes of making a deadline acquisition to put the team in a better standing among Eastern Conference contenders. While they look for a scorer who can aid the second unit, the Knicks waive veteran center Taj Gibson according to Fred Katz of The Athletic, who was signed following the season-ending injury to Mitchell Robinson. Gibson, who has logged over 950 NBA games in his career, showed clear signs of fatigue and old age, although it’s hard to deny that he’s one of the more well-liked veterans among Knicks fans.

New York continues to reshuffle their roster ahead of the NBA Trade Deadline, as they currently sit as the fourth seed and are in prime position to make a run.

Taj Gibson’s Departure Brings Added Trade Utility For Knicks

New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau talks to forward OG Anunoby (8) during the fourth quarter against the Chicago Bulls at Madison Square Garden
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

With the Knicks roster down to 14 players, they can now pull off a deal that allows the team to take on a second player in a deal where they depart with one player. It’s clear that the New York front office is in win-now mode, and the OG Anunoby trade seems to be a precursor for what’s to come over the next few weeks. The deal has brought an immediate impact on the team’s on-court performance, with their defense looking insurmountable even against some of the best teams the NBA has to offer this season.

Discount games against the Chicago Bulls or Washington Wizards all you want, but the Knicks hosted the Timberwolves and promptly took them down in their first game following the deal, and they beat the brakes off of a really good 76ers team in Philadelphia. Their margins of victory alongside their dominant play on both sides of the ball have brought plenty of optimism around the budding core the Knicks have, and reports indicate that one of the players we can assure will stick around through the year is two-time All-NBA forward Julius Randle.

New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) and guard Jalen Brunson (11) react to a play against the Utah Jazz during the third quarter at Delta Center
Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

The trade of RJ Barrett signified that Leon Rose believed in the duo of Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle to be the team’s primary ball handlers and that faith has yielded excellent results. What they do need is a bench scorer who can provide a jolt to their bench, as while the defensive tandem of Quentin Grimes and Josh Hart can shut down opposing offenses, there isn’t much shot creation or playmaking on the court in those reserve minutes. Malcolm Brogdon was reported to be a name the Knicks have explored, and Dejounte Murray has become a popular trade target as well for New York.

One thing is for certain; the Knicks aren’t done making moves, and while the blockbuster trade for a superstar may not come until after this season, there’s still work to be done. An overlooked hole on the roster could also be their center depth, as perhaps they find a backup to prevent running Isaiah Hartenstein into the ground and provide insurance in case of an injury. It doesn’t have to be a starting caliber guy, but someone similar to what Nerlens Noel was for the team prior to Harteinstein or even what the aforementioned Taj Gibson brought to the team in their magical 2020-2021 season.

Ryan Arcidiacono was another candidate to be waived, but he’ll remain on the Knicks roster and have his contract guaranteed later today according to Fred Katz of The Athletic as well.

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