First, it was Andre Drummond. Now it’s Myles Turner.
A day after Shams Charania of The Athletic reported the New York Knicks‘ interest in Andre Drummond, Indy Star’s J. Michael further fueled speculations that the Knicks are indeed shopping for an established big man.
Michael added the Knicks into a group that includes the two Los Angeles teams, Charlotte Hornets and the New Orleans Pelicans, which inquired on Turner’s availability.
Turner is in the second year of a four-year, $80-million deal with $70 million guaranteed money.
The Indiana Pacers, though, aren’t shopping Turner, according to Michael’s report, despite making him available in the offseason in a Gordon Hayward deal with the Boston Celtics that was stalled.
Nevertheless, the story only raised questions about Mitchell Robinson’s future with the Knicks.
It is unclear if the Knicks’ interest in Drummond and Turner began after Robinson went down with a broken hand.
Robinson has firmly established himself as a starter this season after a shaky start with Tom Thibodeau.
Before Robinson’s injury, he was the bedrock of the Knicks’ defense, which was ranked third in the league at that time. Thibodeau has been effusive in his praise for the young big man.
But Thibodeau also didn’t hide in his interviews that he’s seeking established players that can help him win in the league.
“I have a strong bias towards good players. I know they (front office) are looking at all the possibilities. If something makes sense for us, weâ€™ll do it. If not, I love the team that we have. I love the guys that we have on the team,” Thibodeau said last week when asked about the Knicks’ plans as the March 25 trade deadline approaches.
Drummond is the league’s leading rebounder and a two-time NBA All-Star, while Turner has been leading the league in shot blocks since last season. Both are better players than Robinson at this stage of their careers. Between Drummond and Turner, the latter fits more the Knicks’ young core as he will only turn 25 this month. Drummond is three years older.
If the Knicks will be successful in bringing either of them or a player of their caliber, what will happen to Robinson?
Will he be amenable to slide back to the bench, or will the Knicks shop him?
Robinson is on a team-friendly contract with a $1.8 million team option for next season. If the Knicks exercise that option, they can have Robinson for another season backing up or competing for minutes with whoever they bring in. But they could also lose him for nothing via free agency in 2022 unless they flip him in next year’s trade deadline.
There’s also a better scenario for the Knicks, which ESPN Front Office Insider Bobby Marks suggested:
“To protect themselves long term, the smart thing is to decline the option and give Robinson a qualifying offer. That would make him a restricted free agent, and because of his low $2.1 million cap hold, New York can use cap space first and then circle back to sign him,” Marks wrote.
The Knicks will have roughly $45 million cap space this summer.
The next eight days and even this summer will be interesting for Robinson and the Knicks.
Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo