Report: Knicks shop Walker, Fournier, Burks ahead of trade deadline

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST 17: President Leon Rose, Kemba Walker #8, head coach Tom Thibodeau, Evan Fournier #13, and general manager Scott Perry of the New York Knicks pose for a photo after a press conference at Madison Square Garden on August 17, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images)

The floundering New York Knicks are open for business.

It appears the Knicks are ready to move on from the Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier experiment.

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported Thursday on NBA Today that the Knicks are willing to trade their prized offseason acquisitions.

“In conversations this week with teams, the Knicks have expressed a willingness to trade some of their veteran players that includes Kemba Walker, Evan Fournier, Alec Burks, guys like this,” Windhorst said. “And there’s a reason for it.”

Windhorst added that the Knicks are motivated to move some of their veterans to open up minutes for Cam Reddish, whom they acquired from the Atlanta Hawks essentially for a first-round pick. Derrick Rose’s impending return would also likely mean Walker could return to Tom Thibodeau’s doghouse if not traded by Feb. 10.

“They traded for Cam Reddish two weeks ago, and he is not getting minutes in the rotation from Tom Thibodeau,” Windhorst said. “And Derrick Rose is expected to come back from injury very soon here. It’s just too crowded, and they’re not playing well with what they have, so they’re willing to change that mix.”

Since Reddish returned from an ankle injury, he hasn’t cracked Thibodeau’s rotation. The former lottery pick out of Duke has only played a total of 15 minutes, including 10 garbage time in the Knicks’ 110-96 loss to the Miami Heat Wednesday night.

“Obviously, the Knicks traded for him; they’d like to see him play,” Windhorst said.

It appears the Reddish trade is a front-office move which Thibodeau didn’t co-sign based on the way he’s used 6-foot-8 wingman and his statements in the aftermath of the trade. But if the Knicks front office successfully moves veterans in the current rotation, Thibodeau would be left with no choice but to use Reddish.

The Knicks have lost five of their last six games to slide to 23-26 and outside the Top 10 in the Eastern Conference. Their willingness to deal their veterans away could be a sign that the Knicks are mulling over punting this season to develop their young core the rest of the way.

Walker’s days in New York have been numbered ever since Thibodeau yanked the former four-time All-Star from the rotation 20 games into the season. Fournier had his moments, but his inconsistency has become a microcosm of the Knicks’ current play this season.

Fournier is one of the most vocal supporters of Walker, whom he played with in Boston last season, and isn’t shy in criticizing Thibodeau’s offensive schemes.

The starting five of Walker, Fournier alongside RJ Barrett, Julius Randle, and Mitchell Robinson continue to be one of the worst lineup combinations in the league with a -15.4 net rating.

But it’s going to be a challenge to move Fournier and Walker’s contracts with their value currently at their lowest. Fournier has a $73-million price tag while Walker, who was in and out of the rotation due to his persisting knee problems and being a defensive liability, signed a two-year deal worth $17.9 million in the offseason to come home to New York.

Burks, who has played out of position due to Rose’s injury and Walker’s inconsistent availability, signed a $30 million, three-year contract with the last year as club option.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

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