The New York Knicks finished 47-35 as the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference last season and advanced to the second round of the 2023 NBA playoffs before losing to the Miami Heat in six games.
All signs point to the Knicks being able to repeat as playoff contenders, but could they pull off a trade that could help them advance further in the postseason?
The Knicks do not have an abundance of players that can be dealt with in the short term, but three players carry measurable trade value.
RJ Barrett holds plenty of value entering a crucial fifth season
Barrett has already proven himself to be a volume scorer in the NBA. The Knicks are hoping he can solidify a contending big three alongside Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson.
He is under contract until 2026-27, giving other teams looking for a dynamic scoring wing long-term insurance.
Barrett carries the potential to be a 25-point-per-game scorer in the league. Many other forwards have recently taken the next step post-trade, including Brooklyn Nets star Mikal Bridges, Washington Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma, and Utah Jazz’s reigning Most Improved Player of the Year Lauri Markkanen.
The Knicks will seek a booming return on their draft investment, but Barrett offers the most trade value on the team.
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Immanuel Quickley could be moved amidst contract negotiations
Immanuel Quickly will be a restricted free agent this offseason and the two sides have been actively working on a contract extension. He has been a spark plug off the bench for Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau.
Quickley scored 14.9 points per game with a 53.7 percent effective field goal percentage en route to Sixth Man of the Year consideration in 2022-23.
In a packaged deal, Quickley’s ability to catch fire from beyond the arc, ignite runs, and set up the offense makes him a valuable trade piece that can lead a second unit or breakout as a scoring starting guard.
Could moving Mitchell Robinson be beneficial?
The jury is still out on just how good Mitchell Robinson can be. Robinson has made a name for himself as a shot-blocker, sporting a career average of 2.0 rejections per contest, but has only played 75 percent or more of a season twice in five years.
His career average of 2.9 fouls per game shows a propensity to be undisciplined in contesting shots at the rim and has room to grow in his offensive production, despite being efficient from the field.
His defensive attributes make up for his current struggles like his 48.4 percent clip from the charity stripe in 2023. Many teams have a need for rim protection inside, and Robinson could yield a solid return for New York with three years and roughly $43 million left on his deal.
Trade options for the Knicks
The trade market is sparse with three weeks before preseason begins. Rumors have circulated that Cleveland Cavaliers All-Star Donovan Mitchell could be on the move, which gives the Knicks the opportunity to land the scoring guard.
Barrett, Quickley, and Robinson could offer Cleveland a robust package in exchange for Mitchell, who is under contract until 2027-28 where he is owed north of $44 million.
Isaiah Hartenstein, Jericho Sims, and Isaiah Roby give coach Thibodeau options at center until the trade deadline and beyond when the Knicks can make a play for another center. Hartenstein had flashes of brilliance last season on both ends of the floor and enjoyed four of his seven games scoring in double figures when given 25-plus minutes.
The Knicks could also try to make a play for Atlanta Hawks center Clint Capela. The veteran center has been one of the best pick-and-roll finishers in the NBA since his tenure alongside James Harden with the Houston Rockets.
Atlanta has liked what they’ve seen from backup center Onyeka Okongwu, giving the Knicks the ability to offer an enticing package in exchange for Capela. New York finished last in pick-and-roll man scoring last season among all teams. Capela would be an instant fix. Packaging Robinson with Quickley in return for Capela and Siddiq Bey works contractually and Bey offers size, inside offense, and defense off the bench.