Josh Hart made sure the Portland Trail Blazers knew what they lost when they sent him to the New York Knicks. It was even more glaring as Cam Reddish, the player they swapped for Hart, fizzled against his former team after blaming politics for his messed-up stint in New York.
Hart came away with a near triple-double (16 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists) and three steals to help the Knicks’ 16-point fightback — the latest proof of who won the trade.
The Knicks improved to 11-3 since Hart’s arrival. The Trail Blazers fell to 4-10 with Reddish.
Hart was a game-high plus-26. Reddish was a game-worst minus-27.
Reddish finished with only two points in 19 minutes, missing five of six attempts. He added one rebound and two steals with the most minutes off the bench for Portland, which has now lost its last 4 games to fall three games out of the final play-in spot in the Western Conference.
On the flip side, Hart’s arrival has impacted winning in New York, with the Knicks jumping back to 5th seed after securing their second .500 season in three years.
Hart’s grittiness is a seamless fit with the Knicks. Refusing to give up after the Trail Blazers zoomed to a 36-20 lead, Hart sparked the Knicks’ comeback with his infectious energy and hustle plays.
“I thought we got off to a sluggish start, and then I thought our bench came in and gave us a huge lift,” New York coach Tom Thibodeau said. “And I think a lot of that could be attributed to Josh. I love that you look at the boxscore, and it’s very telling.
Since the trade went down, Hart has averaged 11.1 points, 7.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 1.2 steals while hitting 55.9 percent from deep. Thibodeau has referred him as the team’s glue guy, a description that can’t be attached to Reddish’s name.
For all his physical gifts and potential, the 6-foot-8 Reddish struggles to find consistency. His playing time is the only consistent thing at Portland. Sure, Reddish has put up better numbers — 12.8 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists — than he did in New York, but he hasn’t impacted winning like Hart does.
After starting in 11 games, Reddish has been relegated to Portland’s bench as Anfernee Simons got healthy. Matisse Thybulle, the other player the Trail Blazers had acquired at the trade deadline, is ahead of him in the rotation with his defense.
With the Knicks poised to make the playoffs, it is increasingly likely that the lottery-protected pick they gave up for Hart will convey in the next draft.
Depending on how that pick will turn out, the Knicks, for now, are the clear winners of the trade.
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