How the Knicks replaced Elfrid Payton’s minutes in genius fashion

knicks, kemba walker

The New York Knicks had several goals this off-season, but none were bigger than upgrading the point guard position. After selecting Miles McBride out of West Virginia with the 36th overall selection in the 2021 NBA draft, the front office looked forward to free agency to find veteran leadership.

One of their first moves after free agency commenced on Monday evening was to bring back point guard Derrick Rose. The veteran is preparing to turn 33-years-old in two months but was one of the more impactful players for the Knicks last season.

Upon his acquisition, head coach Tom Thibodeau played Rose 26.8 minutes per game on average. He scored 14.9 points, 4.2 assists, and shot nearly 49% from the field. He also hit a career-high 41% from three.

Rose acted as a pure floor general, spreading the ball and leading the offense with vision and efficiency. However, his presence wasn’t enough for the front office; they wanted a bigger name who could share minutes and mitigate fatigue over the course of a long campaign.

In addition to Derrick, they targeted former Boston Celtics PG Kemba Walker. Walker finalized a buyout from the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday and immediately joined the ranks in New York, looking to revive his career in his hometown. As a Bronx native, Walker is 31-years-old and played in 43 games last year before injury got the best of him.

Walker averaged 19.3 points, 4.9 assists, and shot 42% from the field. He is a high-clip three-point shooter as well, connecting on 36% over 8.2 attempts per game. However, the 2020-21 season represented one of his down years, considering he’s earned four All-Star appearances over the last five seasons.

During his most productive campaign in 2018, Walker averaged 25.6 points, 5.9 assists and shot 43.4% from the field over 82 games. His unique athleticism and burst gave him an edge over defenders, but his knees have taken a beating the last few seasons. The Knicks don’t want to rely on him as their primary option, so he will replace Elfrid Payton’s 23.6 minutes per game.

Payton was allowed to walk this off-season after a one-year, $5 million deal came to an end. He logged 10.1 points, 3.2 assists, and shot 43% from the field. He was borderline useless as a three-point shooter and was quickly replaced after the acquisition of Rose. The Knicks hoped he could provide some value during the postseason to help give Rose time to rest on the bench, but he simply couldn’t handle the load.

Fast forward to present day, and the Knicks have a point guard room consisting of Rose, Walker, McBride, and Luca Vildoza. Some might even categorize Immanuel Quickley as a PG, but he fits the role of a shooting guard moving forward.

The best part about the team’s moves is the contracts they handed out. Rose is essentially on a two-year, $20 million deal, as the third season is not guaranteed. Walker is set to earn just $8 million per year over two seasons, representing an absolute steal if he can remain healthy. Keep in mind, Walker is only one year moved from an All-Star appearance, and if he can return the form, the Knicks could find themselves pushing even further in the post-season next year.

Elfrid Payton’s father shoots back at Knicks for son’s lack of playing time in playoffs

New York Knicks, Elfrid Payton

The New York Knicks knew they’d be facing a tough opponent in the Atlanta Hawks in the first series of the postseason, but they didn’t imagine how physical and intense it would be. Playing aggressive defense during the regular season, the Knicks had the number one ranked unit in points allowed per game, but Atlanta found ways to exploit their deficiencies.

One of those weaknesses was ultimately point guard Elfrid Payton, who average 23.6 minutes per game this season, shooting .432 from the field and a measly .286 from three-point land. He averaged 10.1 points per contest, but once the playoffs rolled around, Payton saw his opportunities dwindle to mere single-digit reality.

“I would’ve liked to see him play based on him playing the whole year,” Payton Sr. told Marc Berman of The Post. “That’s the only thing I had about it. I was surprised they didn’t try to put him back in and see. I’m not saying it didn’t go well because he wasn’t in there. But they didn’t try to go back to him even in a reserve role.”

Head coach Tom Thibodeau started Payton the first two games of the series, but his minutes decreased quickly, starting at eight and falling to five in Game 2. By the time Game 3 rolled around, Payton was completely phased out of the lineup, not stepping on the court once to help his team.

The reason behind benching Payton was simple, he offered minimal defense, and his scoring prowess for a starting PG was dismal. Instead, the Knicks put Derrick Rose in the driver’s seat, who had extensive playoff experience and averaged double-digit points per game with a high of 30 in Game 3. While his defense was spotty, there are not many players in the NBA that can currently faceguard Trae Young.

As for Payton, he undoubtedly is facing free agency on a low after being benched in the postseason, and while he wishes he could’ve experienced a bit more playing time, he pushes forward without regret.

“His spirits are fine,” Payton Sr. said. “He wish he could’ve a played a little more. He wished he could’ve contributed more in the playoffs. It was the first time he was in the playoffs since being drafted and he was one of the reasons.”

Payton was on a one-year, $5 million deal with the Knicks this past season, so he will undoubtedly hit free agency without an option for return. The Knicks are looking to make a big splash this upcoming off-season, preferably a point guard, so they can use every dollar possible to attract a big name to The Garden.

Knicks: Thibodeau sticks with Payton as starter for Game 2

New York Knicks, Elfrid Payton

Embattled New York Knicks’ point guard Elfrid Payton will keep his starting job for Game 2.

Tom Thibodeu has decided to stay the course and will roll out the same starting unit against Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night.

Young toyed around the Knicks’ backcourt in Game 1 scoring a game-high 32 points and handing out 10 assists in an auspicious playoff debut. The Hawks star guard scored the game winning floater with 0.9 seconds left steal one in New York, 107-105.

Payton’s minutes was further reduced as he went scoreless again in eight minutes, missing all his three attempts and was a plus/minus -2. He’s the one of the two Knicks’ guards who had a negative net rating. The other was Frank Ntilikina who played only 31 seconds and as Young’s defender in the final play.

“We looked at the game, we look at what’s going on. It’s a two-point game and it comes down to a loose ball. Just get out there, get the job done, play defense, run the team. We’re going to use everyone,” said Thibodeau before the game explaining his decision to stick with the same starting lineup.

Thibodeau was referring to Bogdan Bognadovic’s three-pointer that tied the game at 103 all with 55 seconds left. RJ Barrett initially swiped the ball but Bogdanovic gathered control as the Knicks’ wingman lost his balance. That shot set up Young’s heroics.

The Knicks have managed to take out Young’s three-point shot (1-of-3 in Game 1). But the cold-blooded guard went 11-for-23 from the floor and was 7-for-12 from close range.

Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young scored 32 points on a variety of floaters including the game winner against the New York Knicks in Game 1.

Thibodeau had a game plan that could have led to a Knicks’ victory in Game 1 as they neutralized Clint Capela’s lob threat. Capela wound up with only nine points on seven shots. Thibodeau’s calculated risk, however, backfired with Julius Randle playing one of his worst games and Bognadovic hitting the crucial 3 off a loose ball. Randle missed 17 of 23 shots for just 15 points, way below his average.  

And it didn’t help the Knicks’ guards were too relaxed on Young giving him enough space to operate inside.

Derrick Rose earlier said they’ll make it tougher for Young in Game 2.

“Well, I can say we played too relaxed. Tonight we’re just going to play our normal way of playing,” Rose said after today’s shootaround ahead of Game 2. Aggressive and playing smart. He’s a smart player. He knows how to use angles. We just got to make sure we stay into the ball and make things harder for him. Last game we didn’t do that.”

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Thibodeau addresses Knicks’ Elf-ant in the room; Ntilikina as Trae stopper?

Tom Thibodeau may bury struggling Elfrid Payton on the bench during crucial moments of the game, but he will never throw his beleaguered starting point guard under the bus.

The New York Knicks have reached this far, with Thibodeau sticking to his guns with Payton as a starter. But Payton’s role had been reduced to token starts for the Knicks during the home stretch, with his favorite point guard Derrick Rose taking a larger role off the bench.

“The depth of our team is one of our strengths. There are things that Elfrid provides for us that are big assets to our team — his size, his defense,” Thibodeau said on his zoom call with reporters on Wednesday. Those are important factors. And then you look at it in totality. How does the team function?”

The Knicks have won 16 of their last 20 games despite Payton’s offensive woes. Payton hasn’t breached the 20-minute barrier since April 28. His confidence took a hit with only a total of six points in their final six games. He shot at an atrocious 3-for-19 from the floor during that ugly stretch.

“As is the case with most players, there will be ups and downs. You don’t have to shoot well to play well. Just go out there and give us what you can. And every game is different,” said Thibodeau of Payton.

“The thing that I love about our team is if someone’s not doing good, another guy steps in, and if he’s doing good, everyone is cheering for that guy. The most important thing is the team winning. That’s where I want the focus to lie,” he added.

Thibodeau was able to hide Payton’s deficiencies with Rose closing out games and Alec Burks getting back in the groove.

Rose and Burks will figure heavily in the rotation as Thibodeau will rely on their playoff experience. The veteran backcourt duo has a combined 63 playoff games under their belts.

“The things that you can do well, focus on those things. The things that you don’t do well, you stay away from those things. Play with your strengths and cover your weaknesses and do that as a team. And if you do that as a team, the team will have success and that’s what we’re focused on,” Thibodeau said.

Aside from Rose and Burks, Thibodeau may reach deep in his pocket in his bid to slow down Trae Young, who averaged 24.7 points and 12.0 assists in three games against the Knicks this season. Thibodeau admitted he’s been contemplating a lot about utilizing Frank Ntilikina, who’s been out of the rotation for most of the season.

“Frank has been sort of that role as a defensive stopper. He adds great value to our team,” Thibodeau said.

“What you guys don’t see is — he and Kevin Knox and a bunch of other guys who are not in the rotation — how hard they work in practice. We value practice greatly. They’re providing a lot to our team. And whatever their strengths are, we’re gonna try to take advantage of that. And we want them to continue to improve, and that’s an important part of what we’re doing here. All our players are critical.”

If Ntilikina manages to sneak into the rotation, it will be interesting to see how Thibodeau will spread out the minutes.

Will Payton’s minutes get further reduced, or will Ntilikina cut into rookie Immanuel Quickley’s playing time?

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

John Hollinger suggests how Knicks can land Lonzo Ball, Victor Oladipo

The New York Knicks point guard woes is nearing the red alert level with Immanuel Quickley (sore ankle) joining Elfrid Payton (hamstring) and Derrick Rose (health and safety protocols) at the sidelines entering Thursday’s game against the visiting Orlando Magic.

The Knicks are left with Frank Ntilikina and two-way player Jared Harper as the only point guards. New York coach Tom Thibodeau would only break the emergency glass and reach for Harper when push comes to shove. But against the Magic, who are also without their top two point guards, Thibodeau can survive with Ntilikina in the starting lineup. RJ Barrett and point-forward Julius Randle will be helping in playmaking. Alec Burks will again be the Knicks’ part-time point guard.

But this band-aid solution won’t get the Knicks over the hump in their playoff push.

John Hollinger, the former Memphis Grizzlies vice president of basketball operations and now a front office insider for The Athletic, suggested two trades that could help the Knicks immediately and set them up for the future.

Solving Knicks PG woes

In a trade deadline talk with William Guillory, The Athletic’s New Orleans Pelicans beat writer, Hollinger threw a wild trade scenario that would land Lonzo Ball in New York.

Hollinger’s trade proposal:

Knicks will acquire

  • Lonzo Ball
  • JJ Redick
  • Jaxson Hayes

Pelicans will acquire

  • Mitchell Robinson
  • Elfrid Payton
  • Austin Rivers
  • Ignas Brazdeikis
  • Dallas’ 2021 first-round pick
  • lightly protected 2021 Knicks first-round pick

Hollinger noted that it’s an overpay, but it’s the only way the Pelicans should be tempted to part ways with Ball, who has turned the corner after a slow start to this season.

Ball is coming off a career-high 17 assists and 11 points in the Pelican’s one-point loss to Portland Trail Blazers the other night. His shooting, which has been his game’s perceived weakness, is coming along well this year. He’s a reliable 39 percent three-point shooter on 7.7 attempts this season. More importantly, he’s shooting 47 percent of his corner 3s, per Cleaning the Glass.

This trade, according to Hollinger, will help the Knicks’ playoff push with Ball and Redick. It would also be easier for the Knicks to retain Ball’s services in the offseason as they could match any offer sheet he can get in the market.

It should be noted that the Mavericks have now entered the Western Conference’s playoff picture after a slow start. They have now won seven of their last 10 games. If the Mavericks continue their upward trend, the 2021 first-round pick they owe to the Knicks in the Kristaps Porzingis trade will land outside the lottery.

Firepower help

The other deal Hollinger proposed in his column today is for Houston Rockets’ Victor Oladipo.

Hollinger’s trade proposal:

Knicks will acquire

  • Victor Oladipo
  • Sterling Brown

Rockets will acquire

  • Frank Ntilikina
  • Kevin Knox
  • Detroit’s 2021 second-round pick
  • Minnesota’s 2021 second-round pick
  • $5.2 million cash

Hollinger noted that Oladipo’s Bird Rights would give the Knicks some wiggle room in roster construction next season as they could retain him without using the cap room.

Oladipo is coming off his best game in Houston uniform against his former coach Nate McMillan and the soaring Atlanta Hawks. Oladipo played like an All-Star in that 109-117 loss last Tuesday, leading the Rockets with a season-high 34 points on 13-for-20 shooting, including 4-of-6 from 3. He also handed out five assists and grabbed three rebounds in 41 minutes.

Before the game, McMillan provided clues as to why he believes Oladipo could soon return to the elite level he once was.

“I was with him last season,” McMillan said. “I know what he has done to commit to getting his body back to as close to what he was before the injury. He has invested in making sure he has everything he needs as far as trainers and doctors and putting in the work to get to that point.”

Oladipo proved McMillan right on the court that night.

Now, it’s up to the Knicks whether they believe that Oladipo can get back to that level consistently under Thibodeau.

If yes, cashing in on the Mavericks’ pick, as Hollinger suggested, could do the trick.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Deciding the fate of Knicks players on the bubble ahead of the trade deadline

New York Knicks, Austin Rivers

The All-Star weekend is officially in the books as teams are now fully focused on the second half of the NBA season. The New York Knicks are in a really good spot for a change, as they sit at the 5th seed in the East with a record of 19-18.

The fact that they are in the playoff race, let alone a game above .500 this late into the season, is nothing short of remarkable considering the expectations heading into this year. This is a huge testament to the work of head coach Tom Thibodeau and the rest of the coaching staff, as they have this Knicks team playing hard every night and outworking their opponents, especially on the defensive end as they currently rank second in defensive rating at 108.8.

Usually once the trade deadline rolls around Knicks fans are already scrolling through mock drafts and familiarizing themselves with prospects in the upcoming draft. The Knicks themselves are usually trying to sell guys for draft compensation or searching the bargain bin for anyone they can take a chance on.

This year is totally different, as the Knicks will probably look to be buyers over the next few weeks, and as usual, they have been connected to almost every name out there. This also means a number of guys on the team already have been connected to trade rumors as well, so we could possibly see a roster that looks significantly different once the March 25th deadline passes. With that, let’s dive into a few current Knicks who are on the bubble and see if they are likely to remain in orange and blue, or if their time as a Knick could be over rather quick (how did I do, Clyde?):

Four players the New York Knicks could decide on at the March 25 deadline: 

Austin Rivers

I really feel bad for Austin Rivers. I do. He went from being a guy who immediately cemented himself as a vocal leader on the team and had Knicks fans excited, to a guy who fell out of the rotation and hasn’t seen the court in weeks unless it’s garbage time.

That being said, Rivers has been playing very inconsistently for much of the season. He is a hot-and-cold type of player and is a very streaky shooter. It seemed that Rivers was trying to do too much when he was on the court, and he was failing to find the guys around him when they had open looks far too often.

After the Derrick Rose trade, it seemed like the writing was on the wall for Rivers. The second unit has largely performed much better with Rose, and even when Rose was out the last couple of games due to health and safety protocols Rivers still didn’t see any playing time.

Rivers can still be a valuable trade piece because of his experience, veteran presence, and team-friendly contract. There should definitely a few teams who are interested in bringing in a guy like Rivers to bolster their scoring off the bench, including the team coached by his father, who had also shown interest in him during the offseason along with the Knicks. The Knicks might be able to get themselves a second-round pick or two for Rivers if they move him, and it is all but guaranteed at this point that they will do so.

Prediction: Gone

Kevin Knox

Kevin Knox has suffered a similar fate to that of Rivers, as the 2018 ninth overall pick has also fallen out of the rotation and has only seen the court sparingly recently. In just over 15 minutes played he’s averaging only 5 points, 2 rebounds and under 1 assist per game.

Early on in the season Knox showed an improved shooting touch, particularly from behind the three-point line, although Coach Thibodeau must not have liked what he saw from him in other areas of his game and phased him out of the rotation pretty early on.

The Knicks have reportedly been shopping Knox, although they were unwilling to part ways with him in the Rose trade last month. Nevertheless, it’s likely that team president Leon Rose and the rest of the front office were looking to save Knox for a future trade down the line, and I doubt he is untouchable now by any means.

Knox still could provide some value to a team looking to take a chance on a young guy and see if they can try and unlock something that the Knicks were not able to. He could also be an attractive throw-in piece as part of a bigger trade, but no matter what the trade looks like the likelihood is that Knox’s time as a Knick is coming to an end.

Prediction: Gone

Frank Ntilikina

Ah, the beloved French Prince. A man who will forever unite and capture the hearts of Knicks fans across the globe. After his early-season injury and COVID scare, we thought Frank Ntilikina was pretty much done as a Knick as he was forced to the bench alongside Knox and Rivers once he returned. But alas, an opportunity presented itself once injuries struck, and Ntilikina was the one Thibodeau called on to step up to the plate, which shows that he trusts him.

Ntilikina has done a solid job this season overall, especially since he returned to the rotation the last few games before the All-Star break. He hasn’t lit up the scoreboard, but that’s never been his game. He’s shot the ball selectively but more efficiently this season, and he’s continued to affect the game greatly with his suffocating defense. The offense as a whole has also seemed to flow better when he’s on the court, as he’s been able to help move the ball around while doing a good job of getting his teammates involved.

Could this mean that maybe the Knicks won’t trade Frank after all? He is a free agent after this season, and it was thought that the Knicks were looking to move on from him. They could possibly look to trade him and then re-sign him in the offseason. However, the Knicks would lose his Bird Rights, and they might want to see if he continues to improve the rest of the season. He would probably be affordable to re-sign as well, which would be appealing.

This is really a toss-up, it can go either way, but I’m going to lean towards the Knicks holding onto him and the Frank Ntilikina experiment continuing… for now.

Prediction: Stay

Elfrid Payton

We now go from the most beloved Knick to the most criticized Knick. Elfrid Payton seems like a great guy and is a solid player, he just can’t catch a break with Knicks fans. He isn’t a starting point guard, and even though he hasn’t been terrible he hasn’t been great either. He’s been good getting to the basket and even in the mid-range with a strong floater game, but his inability to shoot the ball has limited what the Knicks have been able to do offensively. He’s held his own defensively as well, but he’s been underwhelming getting his teammates involved as he’s averaged a career-low 3.7 assists this season.

Fans have been calling for Derrick Rose to replace Payton as the starting point guard ever since he came on board, but Thibodeau keeps standing by Payton and it doesn’t seem like he’s planning on taking him out of the starting role. That being said, you never know with Thibodeau, and Rose has played well as the starter in the games Payton missed with a hamstring injury.

When you combine that with guards like Ntilikina and rookie phenom Immanuel Quickley coming off the bench, it makes Payton more expendable. Plus, there have been rumblings of Payton drawing some interest from other teams. But, at the end of the day, while it is possible that Payton could moved at the deadline, there has been nothing that gives off the impression that it’s likely to happen.

Prediction: Stay

All-Star send-off: Randle powers Knicks over .500 after Pistons rout

Julius Randle put on a show at The Garden before heading to Atlanta for his first NBA All-Star game.

Randle’s near triple-double powered the New York Knicks to their first winning record at the All-Star break in eight years.

The Knicks improved to 19-18, sitting at fifth place in the Eastern Conference after a wire-to-wire 114-104 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Thursday.

This marks the first time the Knicks are above .500 this late in the season since they were the Eastern Conference’s second seed at the All-Star break in 2013, the last time they reached the playoffs.

After a disappointing road loss in San Antonio two nights ago, the Knicks vented their ire on the Eastern Conference-worst Pistons.

With Randle leading the way, the Knicks led from start to finish. The first-time All-Star already had a double-double (18 points, 10 rebounds) in the first half alone as the Knicks sat on a 13-point halftime lead, 59-46.

New York extended the lead to 19, heading into the fourth quarter. The undermanned Pistons put up a token resistance in the final period cutting the lead to nine, but RJ Barrett quickly restored a double-digit lead with a three-pointer.

Randle bullied his way to 27 points, 16 rebounds, and seven assists, becoming the first player in Knicks history to have 800 points, 400 rebounds, and 200 assists at the All-Star break, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

Aside from that milestone, the 26-year old forward also recorded his 10th game with at least 25 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists, the second-most in franchise history. He needs five more to tie the franchise record held by Bob McAdoo, which he did during the 1977-78 season.

“We’re growing as a team, growing as a unit,’’ Randle told Rebecca Haarlow after the game. “We got to go into the break and stay ready because the second half will be a beast. The first half was great for us, but we know we can keep improving and get better as a team, and we will.’’

The Knicks took care of business in the first half of the season, winning 12 games against losing teams and scoring victories against some playoff-caliber teams. They routed Golden State and Boston on the road and Milwaukee at home while beating Indiana twice.

But it will get tougher after the All-Star break.

The Knicks will play 26 of their last 35 games against playoff-contending teams, starting with a tough road trip in Milwaukee next Thursday followed by visits in Oklahoma, Brooklyn, and Philadelphia.

But before they get tested, this night was all about the Knicks punctuating a terrific first half of the season, which pundits never saw coming.

The Knicks’ turnaround wasn’t only about Randle. Collectively, this team emerged from the long years of dysfunction and incompetence.

They learned to play for each other under first-year coach Tom Thibodeau. Thursday night’s encore against the Pistons was another testament to that.

Derrick Rose missed his second straight game due to COVID-19 health and protocols, but Elfrid Payton returned to the starting unit with aplomb.

Payton directed the Knicks’ offense which became stagnant in their 119-93 loss to the Spurs earlier. He was active on both ends of the floor, collecting 20 points, six rebounds, four assists, four steals, and a block in a complete performance. Payton tied Reggie Bullock, who had 12 markers, for the night’s highest net rating with +17.

All five starters finished in double figures, with Barrett scoring 21 points on 9-of-13 shots. The Canadian swingman, chosen as one of the Rising Stars for the second straight year, added four boards and five dimes.

Nerlens Noel continued to provide a defensive spark with Mitchell Robinson (fractured hand) and Taj Gibson (ankle injury) still sidelined. He stuffed the stats sheet with 12 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, four steals, and two blocks while shooting a perfect 5-for-5 from the field.

Dennis Smith, Jr. returned to New York for the first time since he got traded for Rose and scored 12 points in a starting role. Another ex-Knick, Wayne Ellington, who spent last season in New York, led the Pistons with 17 points.

It was a fitting send-off for Randle, who was selected and praised by one of the All-Star captains, Kevin Durant, also the leader of the championship-caliber team in Brooklyn, just across the borough.

Bannering Team Durant are starters Kyrie Irving, Joel Embiid, Kawhi Leonard, Bradley Beal, and Durant’s replacement Jayson Tatum.

Randle joins James Harden, Devin Booker, Zion Williamson, Zach LaVine, Nikola Vucevic, and Donovan Mitchell as reserves.

Randle will also compete in the Skills Challenge while Knicks rookie Obi Toppin hopes to end his dull first half with a bang in the Slam Dunk competition as a springboard to the second half of the season.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

3 New York Knicks players that could be traded

New York Knicks, Austin Rivers

The New York Knicks are actively scouring the trade market for ways to improve their team, as they recently acquired Derrick Rose, sending point guard Dennis Smith Jr. to the Detroit Pistons. Smith Jr. was “all smiles” after being treated by the Knicks, and now they can finally move on from what was a massive mistake several years ago.

Rose has already shown his quality on the court, scoring 14 points over 20 minutes in his first game this season. The Knicks are currently 11-15, four games from .500. The most recent loss of the Miami Heat was disappointing, as they had a slight advantage going into the fourth quarter and blew a late lead, coming up short for a second consecutive night.

Once New York can close out tight games, it will make them a far more exciting team. One way they can improve their performance is to strike a trade for a premium asset. However, they would have to part ways with some of their current talent.

Three tradeable players for the New York Knicks:

1.) Elfrid Payton

One player that might draw some attention is Elfrid Payton, who is averaging 12.1 points per game and 3.7 assists. He was far more resourceful with the ball in his hands last year, averaging 7.2 assists per game, but his aggressive defense is why Tom Thibodeau continues to utilize him as a starter. There’s likely a team out there looking for a solid defender and reserve point guard to utilize in a rotational aspect. The Knicks are preparing to thrust Immanuel Quickley into the starting role at some point, which makes Payton expendable, especially since he’s on a one year contract.

2.) Frank Ntilikina

There’s always a need for a quality defender on the bench, but the Knicks have completely disregarded Frank Ntilikina over 26 games. He’s only made four appearances, and at 22 years old, a team out there will likely see the value in his fantastic defense.

There is still potential left offensively, but they have tried every which way to improve his scoring abilities. He has never averaged more than 6.3 points per game, and Thibodeau is looking for players who can put points on the board as well as dominate on defense.

I see the value that Ntilikina has, but at the end of the day, if Thibodeau isn’t going to utilize him, it is best to cash in on his value.

3.) Austin Rivers

The Knicks landed Austin Rivers on a three-year, $9.975 million contract this past off-season. While he started the year nursing an injury, he has provided a spark with his solid dribbling and off-ball movement.

He’s averaging just 8.1 points per game, which has value as a rotational player off the bench. At some point, he seems like he could be an adequate starter, but inconsistencies have dismantled his case. He is shooting a bit better from the field and three-point line, but nothing to be overzealous about.

Rivers is a player who could draw some attention on the market, and if the Knicks could package a few players together to land a more valuable asset, it might be worthwhile to explore a trade.

New York Knicks’ rookies aren’t getting the playing time they deserve

Through 25 games, the New York Knicks have turned some heads this season. Currently 11-14 and just 0.5 games out of the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference, the Knicks are seemingly headed in the right direction under coach Tom Thibodeau.

However, despite the surprisingly strong start, many Knicks fans are disappointed in the lack of playing time for rookies Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickley. Some struggling veterans are getting playing time instead, and the team’s rotations may have cost the Knicks some games.

Toppin, the eighth pick in 2020’s NBA draft, averages just over 11 minutes a game. He’s doing okay in his limited minutes, 4.6 ppg and 2.6 rebounds, but doesn’t get enough playing time to really show what he’s got. Playing time certainly isn’t given, but the eighth overall pick on a rebuilding team needs extended minutes.

Although many of Toppin’s minutes are taken by the forward duo of Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson, Toppin should be getting some of Reggie Bullock’s minutes. Bullock’s know to be a “three-and-D” player but has struggled a lot this season. He scored 21 points the other night against Miami, but averages just 8.9 ppg in 27 minutes.

Quickley has had some games this season where he’s completely lit it up, yet he sits on the bench. He’s scored 16 or more points eight times this season but averages just 19 minutes. Despite the Knicks winning two of their last three games, Quickley has played no more than 17 minutes in those games.

Elfrid Payton, on the other hand, continues to be an offensive nuisance. In nearly 29 minutes per game, Payton averages 12 ppg (same as Quickley), while shooting just 43% from the field and 24% from downtown. His defense keeps him in the lineup, but his offense is just brutal to watch.

Over the weekend, the Knicks acquired Derrick Rose, adding another guard into the mix. While Rose and Payton will likely see the bulk of the minutes, the Knicks must continue to give Quickley playing time. Rumors indicate that the Knicks could eventually move on from Payton, but for now, he’ll remain a Knick and another obstacle blocking Quickley’s minutes.

Despite the Knicks having a deep roster, the Knicks must give their rookies decent playing time. You can’t turn a team into a dynasty without young talent, and they have plenty of young talent. The Knicks aren’t a contending team this season, so they need to make time for their rookies and development.

 

 

Report: Knicks could trade Elfrid Payton after Derrick Rose acquisition

New York Knicks, Elfrid Payton

The New York Knicks made an interesting trade over the weekend, acquiring Derrick Rose from the Detroit Pistons. Rose hasn’t started a game this season at 32 years old, but he’s averaging 22.8 minutes per contest off the bench. He’s putting up 14.2 points per game and 4.2 assists, edging current Knicks Elfrid Payton in the scoring department.

The Knicks now have multiple point guards, including Payton, Rose, Immanuel Quickley, and Austin Rivers. This will likely make someone expendable, and Payton might be the player who can attract the most interest and add the most draft capital.

At this point in his career, Rose is more of a rotational player, who can offer Quickley a mentor and teacher. He does provide some spark on offense, but the Knicks might feel IQ is ready to take a step forward into the starting five. If that is the case, NY should be looking for trade partners who want a solid defensive point guard in Payton who is averaging 11.9 points per game.

According to Bleacher Report, teams have inquired about Elfrid Payton, who’s now expendable after the acquisition of Derrick Rose.

After ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Knicks traded Dennis Smith Jr. and a second-round draft pick to the Detroit Pistons for Derrick Rose, Ian Begley of SNY reported “at least one team in playoff contention has shown interest in Elfrid Payton.”

Payton started Sunday’s loss to the Miami Heat, but there will be less need for him following the Rose trade.

In addition to the veteran Rose, New York can turn toward Austin Rivers and Immanuel Quickley to handle the ball. Quickley, who was the No. 25 overall pick of the 2020 NBA draft, has been a pleasant surprise for the Knicks this season with his ability to provide an immediate boost off the bench.

The question remains, is Quickley ready to take that step forward and retain a starting role?

Over 21 games, he’s averaging 12 points over 18.9 minutes, and while his defense is a work in progress, he has the effort and athleticism to develop in every category. I would like to see him move the ball a bit more efficiently and increases assist numbers, but that will likely come with more time on the floor. Payton is simply taking up too many minutes, and while he has been playing well as of late, selling high would be a good move for New York, who likely feel confident IQ can replace his production with ease.