Celtics’ loss gives Knicks free ride to playoffs

new york knicks, knicks, nyk

The New York Knicks are officially back in the NBA playoffs!

Thanks to Kevin Love’s best game of the season, the Knicks (38-31) got a free ride to the playoffs after the Cleveland Cavaliers dealt Boston Celtics a 102-94 loss.

Love pumped in 30 points and 14 rebounds, both season-highs, as the Knicks heaved a sigh of huge relief at their homes after a painful overtime loss to the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers last night.

It will be the Knicks’ first postseason appearance since Carmelo Anthony led them to the second round of the playoffs in the 2012-13 season.

Knicks’ All-Star forward Julius Randle immediately celebrated the franchise’s return to the playoffs on Twitter.

He’s right.

The Knicks still have plenty of work to do beginning tomorrow night’s matchup against the San Antonio Spurs. With three games left, the New York must sweep its remaining games and hope the Miami Heat (38-31) lose one game to grab the fourth seed in the East and a homecourt edge in the first round playoffs.

The Atlanta Hawks (39-31) momentarily sit as solo fourth after their come-from-behind victory against the Washington Wizards, 120-116, earlier. But the Knicks hold the tie-breaker with a 2-1 record over the Hawks if they wind up with the same record.

Meanwhile, Miami swept New York this season, giving the Heat the edge in case of a tie or even in a three-way tie with the Hawks. In this scenario, the Knicks will be the sixth seed. 

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Knicks Draft Watch: What is the value of the top two picks?

New York Knicks, LaMelo Ball

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

LaMelo Ball has added more fuel to the fire when he said on ESPN’s Jalen & Jacoby Show Wednesday that he has spoken to only two teams thus far: the New York Knicks and Golden State Warriors.

The 6-foot-7 point guard has been on top of the Knicks’ Draft Board since May according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Meanwhile, Ian Begley of SNY recently reported that some NBA teams believe that the Knicks have been trying to move up in the Draft.

If the Knicks have their eyes on Ball, what could move the needle for them to get to the top of the Draft?

 

According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, executives around the NBA believe the Minnesota Timberwolves will shop the top overall pick for a win-now player. The Warriors are also in the same boat, hoping that they could snag a key piece to augment the loss of Kevin Durant and Andre Igoudala.

But ESPN’s Front Office Insider Bobby Marks believes the value of the Wolves and Warriors’ top two selections have decreased relatively owing to the unpredictability of this Draft class.

“I don’t believe you can get an All-Star back. It’s a lot different compared to last year,” Marks told Empire Sports Media.

Last year, Zion Williamson was the consensus top pick. This year, it’s unclear.

Ball, swingman Anthony Edwards, and big man James Wiseman have routinely figured out on top of several Mock Drafts and Draft Boards.

Trading draft picks have been tricky. Because there’s an unknown variable involved.

Revisiting past trades involving top picks might give us a better appraisal of the Timberwolves and Warriors’ picks.

The last time the No. 1 pick was traded happened in 2017 with the Philadelphia 76ers moving up from No. 3 to select Markelle Fultz. In return, the Celtics received the No. 3 pick (Jayson Tatum) and a future first-round pick which turned out to be Romeo Langford, last year’s No. 14 selection.

The following year, another Draft Day trade involving a top-three pick had a major impact. The Atlanta Hawks traded down from No. 3 to No. 5 to get an additional draft pick and selected sharp-shooter Trae Young.

The Mavericks, on the other hand, went on to pick Luka Doncic, who finished in the top five of the MVP balloting this season. The additional draft pick which the Hawks got in the trade turned out to be Cam Reddish, last year’s No. 10 selection.

Those cases, however, don’t apply to the Knicks, who are at the bottom half of the lottery. For the Knicks to move up into the top two, they will have to give more compensations than what the 76ers and the Mavericks have sent out.

The Knicks have the Draft capital, having six first-round picks starting next year until 2023 to choose from to add to their current No. 8 pick in a trade package. But they don’t have the win-now player which both the Timberwolves and the Warriors seek in a trade.

The last time an All-Star was involved in a trade for a No. 1 pick occurred in 2014 when the Cleveland Cavaliers sent No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins for Kevin Love in a larger three-team trade with the Philadelphia 76ers. 

In addition to Wiggins, Minnesota also received Anthony Bennett, Thaddeus Young, and a trade exception while the 76ers got Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Alexey Shved, and a future first-rounder which turned out to be Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (24th pick in 2016 NBA Draft).

As complicated as it is to pull off a multiple-team trade, it’s the more plausible way for the Knicks to convince ironically the Timberwolves or the Warriors to part way with their picks.

The New York Knicks Should Trade For Kevin Love

New York Knicks, Kevin Love

When you think of the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers, you don’t think of much. Most people who think of the last key member of the 2016 championship team think of Kevin Love as washed. That is all foolish, as it neglects how much of a star Kevin Love was and how great of a power forward he is. He’s a very good player still, and he has a ton of value, in my opinion. He can do something most Power Forwards cannot do, and that’s space the floor and be versatile. While he can’t ball handle, he can do a lot that the Knicks desperately need. Kevin Love is a much-needed upgrade at the 4 for the New York Knicks, who should look to trade for him.

Getting A Really Good Shooter Over Randle

The biggest issue with Julius Randle in 2019 was he couldn’t space, shoot 3s, or defend. He had struggled a ton with the Knicks defensively and did not help the Knicks due to his inability to do much else other than shoot mid-range jumpers. This is where Kevin Love comes in, as he can shoot very well, and he spaces the floor for their two young players who struggle to shoot like RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson. He would be able to stay on the perimeter and get you a bucket, as evidenced by his 38.8% three-point percentage on 6.3 attempts per game since 2018. This would allow the Knicks to give RJ and Mitchell Robinson much better spacing and give them a chance to do what they do best offensively.

Significantly Better Perimeter Defender

Kevin Love and Julius Randle primarily defend forwards as guards are too fast for them to defend, and centers are too big for them to defend. When looking at their stats against Forwards, Love holds them to 33.6% from 3 while Randle can only keep them to 38.8%, which is really bad. This is a big no-no for a player who can’t shoot as it means they’ll give up threes, but only score twos, which is a point chipped away in every possession and defensive assignment. Love shoots better than teams shoot against him, so he’s going to have more value per possession and defensive assignment. When you factor that RJ and Mitchell aren’t good perimeter defenders, you can give them a little bit of a boost as you lockdown at least the forwards on the 3 point side of the ball.

Giving the Knicks A Path In Free Agency

If the New York Knicks land Kevin Love in a trade, you can go ahead, and for the next 2-3 years, check three positions off of the list. Center, Power Forward, and Shooting Guard are all positions you no longer have to worry about. This means you go out into free agency/draft and go after a point guard with great playmaking, a shooter, and a defensive-minded forward. In the draft, you can land the playmaking Killian Hayes who can shoot the ball pretty well, and in free agency, the Knicks could look to add names to fill their needs in. It’s important for the Knicks to make that move that gives them momentum and some draw, as if they are able to win 38 games next year and make it to the playoffs, it gives them the draw they need to land a star-caliber player.