Should the Knicks make a play for elite defensive guard?

Milwaukee Bucks guard Jrue Holiday (21) celebrates a basket during the fourth quarter against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday was traded from the Milwaukee Bucks to the Portland Trail Blazers earlier today in a blockbuster deal centered around Damian Lillard, and Portland has made it known that they’re shopping Holiday again.

Should the New York Knicks shuffle the deck and acquire the 14-year veteran?

The Upside: Holiday’s Elite Defense at Point Guard

The Knicks have not had an All-NBA defender on their roster since center Tyson Chandler back in 2013. Holiday has received the prestigious honor three times in his career in 2018, 2021 and 2023.

Current point guard Jalen Brunson elevated his play in a career season last year under Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau behind 24.0 points and 6.2 assists per game and is no slouch guarding the perimeter.

Holiday, 6-5, would provide the backcourt with plenty of size next to Brunson. Holiday’s ability to strip ball-handlers and cut off driving lanes is an invaluable addition to any team, along with his polished offensive game.

However, the congruence in Holiday and Brunson’s play styles — posting up, creating shot opportunities for others, and using screens to find easy midrange jump-shots — runs the risk of producing redundancy in the offense.

The Downside: The Knicks’ Contractual Situation is a Roadblock

The Knicks would struggle in engineering a balanced deal, and according to Jonathan Macri, the money and positions that would have to be relinquished to acquire Holiday would be a win-lose situation for the franchise.

With Josh Hart and Donte DiVincenzo off the table, the Knicks would have to assess the risk-reward potentiality of moving ascending forward RJ Barrett to Portland for Holiday in order to make the nearly $30 million price tag work.

Barrett has had his ups and downs in a Knicks uniform but his size and driving abilities do not negate the upside that the 23-year-old Canadian still possesses at his ripe age.

Franchise player Julius Randle is under contract until 2025-26 and is coming off of a great season which saw him stuff the stats sheet and record several offensive tirades including a season-high 57 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves on March 20. It’s safe to say Randle’s security leading the franchise is etched in stone for the time being.

Championship Experience

Save DiVincenzo, the Knicks do not have a player on their roster who has won a championship. Holiday was instrumental in the Bucks’ 2021 run to the Larry O’Brien Trophy and adding another champion would give coach Thibodeau a hard-nosed star that can handle his coaching and help usher the Knicks to a deep playoff run.

Holiday’s age presents the only other detracting factor, but whether the Knicks stand pat with their playoff-caliber roster or not, this upcoming season remains promising for the ball club.

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