The New York Knicks have been involved in numerous trade rumors the last few days, emerging as aggressive players for Collin Sexton and now perennial All-Star Damian Lillard.
The Knicks and Lillard have been connected for quite a few weeks after reports of his frustration growing with the Portland Trailblazers’ front office and management emerged.
Seemingly, he anticipates sticking with Portland for next season, but if they don’t make the sufficient moves to upgrade the team and build around him, he could force his way out, landing him with a new club.
“I haven’t made any firm decision on what my future will be,” Lillard said, opening up the door for a team like the Knicks to make a splash.
According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, the Knicks are one of several teams to be in heavy pursuit of Lillard via trade:
Few team executives expect a Dame deal to happen this offseason. But multiple front-office sources say the Heat, Kings, Knicks, Rockets, and Sixers have recently been the most aggressive suitors.
Trading for Lillard would require the Knicks to part ways with significant capital in both the draft space and player pool. A prospective deal would undoubtedly include young players like RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley, and even Obi Toppin. In addition, multiple first-round picks would have to be included, specifically the three first-rounders the Knicks contain this year, plus additional ones in the future.
The question is, is it worth ransacking the team for an elite point guard, then having to piece together a roster around him with little money? Lillard would simply be moving from one average team to another since he recently signed a four-year, $176.2 million extension. He likely understands that moving would require the other half of the deal to be massive, so the team he would be joining would be nothing compared to the season prior. Can Lillard and Julius Randle dominate alone with a minimal supporting cast?
With the Knicks containing $50+ million in funds if they elect to let their free agents walk this summer, being patient and building around their youth would be a more efficient strategy. Personally, with all the rumors involving the Knicks and point guards, I believe the front office is simply throwing their name in the hat to create buzz and interest regarding the team. This should help down the road during negotiations with potential PG free agent signings.
Alternatively, trading away the majority of their team would likely offer them $60-70 million in available funds, and with Lillard projected to earn $39 million next season, the team would have a bit of leftover money to sign fresh players. The problem is, their youth pool would be ravaged.