2 players the Knicks must stay far away from in free agency

knicks, kemba walker

The New York Knicks are heading into free agency with a full head of steam, strapped with draft capital and funds to be allocated appropriately. However, spending aimlessly should not be a strategy for the front office, but rather bolstering with specific players who can benefit the team long-term should be in mind, but there are a few options to avoid for a myriad of reasons.

Two players the Knicks shouldn’t consider in free agency:

1.) Kemba Walker

The point guard market is projected to be littered with talent this upcoming August, but one option the Knicks should steer clear of is Kemba Walker. Walker is expected to be traded from the Thunder in a trade and flip move. Considering he’s entering the third year of a four-year, $141 million deal, parting ways with capital to acquire a player who played in just 43 games this past season might be seen as negligence.

When Kemba is playing at the top of his game, there’s no question he’s one of the best PGs in basketball, but he hasn’t played over 56 games in two seasons, and as he prepares to turn 32 years old next year, taking a flyer on him could backfire.

In addition, unless Oklahoma is willing to give him away at cost, the Knicks would benefit from avoiding a contract with just one year remaining until a play-option kicks in.

The former Celtic averaged nearly 20 points last year, including 4.9 assists, and shot 42% from the field. He’s not the most efficient three-point shooter, hitting on just 36% over 8.2 attempts, but for a volume shooter, his clip is adequate. He missed the All-Star game for the first time in five years, indicating a less than adequate season in context with his quality. At $36 million next year, New York could look to an alternative like Lonzo Ball for cheaper and commit long-term to develop him into their focal point.

2.) Victor Oladipo

The second player the Knicks should avoid is Victor Oladipo, who could be an enticing option if not for missing the majority of the last three seasons. He hasn’t played over 36 games since 2017 when he made an All-Star appearance with the Indiana Pacers.

At 29 years old, Oladipo is an adequate scorer, averaging nearly 20 points per game, 4.6 assists, and shooting about 41% over 33 games this past season. However, his injury history is troubled, presenting a warning sign for any team that is willing to give him another opportunity.

Considering he is coming off a four-year, $85 million deal unless he’s willing to settle for significantly less this upcoming season, New York should keep their eyes focused on healthier options. They say the best ability is availability.

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

Knicks still ‘eyeing’ Victor Oladipo ahead of trade deadline

There is no question the New York Knicks could use a player upgrade before the March 27 trade deadline. They’ve been connected with a bevy of star players, including Zach LaVine, Bradley Beal, and more.

However, one name continues to return back, and it is Victor Oladipo of the Houston Rockets. With the Rockets potentially looking to shed some weight and add draft capital, Oladipo could be on his way out within the next few days. He’s averaging 21.1 points over 32.9 minutes this season, but his injury history is a bit toxic. The former Indiana Pacer hasn’t played over 36 games since 2017 but went on the floor, he is an offensive producer. Averaging over 20 points per game is exactly what the Knicks need from a player-acquisition, as better teams with stronger defenses are simply phasing out Julius Randle.

There are still players available for the taking, and it is clear the Knicks will be involved until the final day.

According to Ian Begley, the Knicks are still in the market for a productive player to add to their roster.

“You’d expect the Knicks to continue to be aggressive and try to find ways to upgrade their roster via trade”

Coming up short in back-to-back losses against playoff-caliber teams, the Knicks feel good about their current roster, especially with Derrick Rose on the return. However, they lack that extra star to push them over the edge, especially one that can hit clutch shots at the end of games.

Randle hasn’t had much success closing out contests with the ball in his hands, and Immanuel Quickley launched a three-pointer which fell to waste against the 76ers. Those few additional points are the difference between winning and losing, and Tom Thibodeau has done such a fantastic job putting this team together; adding one more piece could be the final catalyst.

What could Andre Drummond cost the Knicks? Is he worth the price?

New York Knicks, Andre Drummond

With starting center Mitchell Robinson still on the recovery from his fractured right hand surgery, the New York Knicks have done their due diligence on Cleveland Cavaliers’ big man Andre Drummond.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Knicks have explored the possibility of adding Drummond, a four-time NBA rebounding leader and a two-time All-Star, for their playoff chase.

Charania added that the Knicks are mulling a multi-year deal to lure Drummond from going elsewhere. Title contenders Los Angeles Lakers and the Knicks’ crosstown rival Brooklyn Nets are believed to be potential destinations for Drummond should he enter a buyout agreement and becomes a free agent.

The Knicks, however, can also outright eliminate other suitors if they trade for Drummond, and it will probably cost them a second-round pick and/or two of three salary fillers from their expendable players like Austin Rivers, Frank Ntilikina, or even Kevin Knox. The Cavaliers are believed to be seeking an asset in return for Drummond.

But if the Knicks wanted to join the Drummond sweepstakes via buyout, what can they offer in a multi-year deal to pry him away from the minimum deal that comes with the glittery promise of a Larry O’Brien trophy in Los Angeles or Brooklyn?

Drummond’s market price

ESPN Front Office Insider and former Nets assistant general manager Bobby Marks gave us an idea of Drummond’s price range in the open market.

“He’s a $15-17 million player,” Marks told Empire Sports Media.

But he’s also skeptical if he’ll be worth it since he believes Drummond won’t be a major upgrade from Robinson.

“They are a first-round [playoff] team right now,” Marks said. And he answered with an emphatic “No” when asked if Drummond gives the Knicks a better shot of advancing deeper in the playoffs.

At a bare minimum, the Knicks can use Drummond as insurance for Robinson [if he’ll be out longer than expected] as they navigate the third toughest schedule in the second half.

Drummond averaged 17.5 points, 13.5 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks in 25 games for the Cavaliers before he was shut down.

In contrast, Robinson was averaging 8.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, 1.2 steals, and 2.1 blocks before he went down with an injury last month. Backup center Nerlens Noel is averaging 6.7 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks since he took over from Robinson.

Risk-cost benefit

When Robinson comes back at full health, Tom Thibodeau would have more options.

If he wants to generate more offense from the post, he could roll with the more offensively-polished Drummond. But if he wants rim protection, Robinson could have more value on the court. This could make Noel expendable and move Taj Gibson further down the rotation.

Drummond will be a bigger weapon to have against Joel Embiid or Giannis Antetokounmpo or the firepower-heavy Nets in a potential first-round playoff series. But as Marks suggested, Drummond won’t push the Knicks over the first-round hump.

However, the bigger concern would be the risk of drilling a hole in the already solid Knicks’ chemistry.

Drummond could eat into the Knicks’ lone post threat Julius Randle’s usage rate on top of potentially rubbing Robinson the wrong way. Unless the Knicks intend to flip Robinson into a major backcourt upgrade such as Lonzo Ball or in a larger package for an All-Star level guard like Bradley Beal or Victor Oladipo, Leon Rose and his shrewd front office could be on to something.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

New York Knicks: The crux of a potential Victor Oladipo trade

As the trade deadline approaches, the trade chatter for Victor Oladipo is growing louder.

The Golden State Warriors are the latest team to have shown interest in trading for Oladipo, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. But the New York Knicks are still in the running based on Marc Berman of the New York Post and Scoop B’s latest reports.

Oladipo is averaging 19.9 points, 4.7 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 1.4 steals in 15 games for the Rockets while shooting 39 percent from the field and just 31 percent from the three-point area. But he’s notched a season-high 33 and five triples in their recent loss to Brooklyn Nets.

Oladipo cost the Rockets a rising star in Caris LeVert, who is due for $35-million in the next two seasons, and a future second-round pick. Houston’s first-year general manager Rafael Stone said at that time that the Oladipo trade was all about creating flexibility.

“Your hope is that it’s a perfect marriage,” Stone said after essentially getting Oladipo for James Harden. “(Oladipo’s) an extremely talented player. He’s a two-way player. He’s played at an extraordinarily high level. He’s obviously had a significant injury. He’s back. He’s already really, really good, but I think in his own mind and in ours, there’s still room to grow, which is really exciting.

“I think for him and for us, this is like a really exciting time where we get to see if it works out. Hopefully, it just works out gangbusters, and then we take it from there.”

Two months after the trade, the Oladipo experiment appears to be a failure on the surface. But when the Rockets were healthy, Oladipo was their most valuable two-way player with the best defensive rating.

Despite a 13-game losing streak entering the NBA All-Star break, the Rockets have not seen enough of Oladipo, John Wall, and Christian Wood together that may factor in their trade deadline decisions.

The Rockets’ version of ‘diet Big 3’ in the post-Harden has only shared the court for only 53 minutes together this season.

Houston’s front office appears not ready to pull the trigger on a fire sale yet.

“The Rockets have no interest, according to an individual familiar with the team’s thinking, in pursuing their version of “The Process,” by trading off veterans to collect assets and losses that could help lottery chances,” Houston Chronicle and Rockets insider Jonathan Feigen recently wrote.

The Rockets owe their top four-protected 2021 first-round pick to Oklahoma City as part of the Chris Paul-Russell Westbrook trade. If the Rockets remain one of the three worst teams, the best they could have is a 52.1 percent chance of landing in the top four. There’s still a big chance that their pick goes to the Thunder; hence their hesitation to tanking is understandable.

So Houston is torn between full-scale rebuild and trying to stay relevant.

With Wood expected to return after the All-Star break, the Rockets will at least have four games left to gauge whether they flip or keep Oladipo.

This is where the flexibility Stone was talking about comes in.

The Rockets could create roughly $20 million in cap space if they let Oladipo and their veterans on expiring deals walk after the season.

There’s also a remote chance that the Rockets could work on a sign-and-trade with Oladipo akin to the Gordon Hayward deal between Boston and Charlotte to create a large amount of trade exception in the offseason.

Their best bet is to flip Oladipo at the trade deadline. But at what price?

“The Victor Oladipo situation, he will absolutely be of interest to teams, but the Rockets have to gauge what they bring back. If they’re bringing back $21 million worth of contracts, they better want those guys,” Feigen said on Texas Sports Nation recently.

The Rockets have given up LeVert and a draft pick for Oladipo, so we assume that they would want something more or the same value back.

The Miami Heat have Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson, but they are standing pat, believing they could land Oladipo for free in the free agency.

The Warriors don’t have much to offer except Kelly Oubre, Jr., unless they want to flip the Minnesota Timberwolves’ top-three protected pick from the D’Angelo Russell trade.

Outside Julius Randle, RJ Barrett, and Immanuel Quickley, the Knicks don’t have players that Rockets would view as a potential core piece. But they have expiring deals and the draft capital to lure the Rockets.

The crux of a potential Oladipo trade not only lies in what the Rockets would want in exchange but, more so, in how the Knicks view him at this stage of his career.

Will Oladipo ever be healthy?

He’s only 28, but he has never played a full season since he entered the league. The most he has played is 80 games during his rookie year. He’s only played a total of 55 games over the last two seasons. This season, he has yet to play in back-to-back games.

Is he a short-term rental, or do they believe they have a shot at keeping him beyond this season?

Oladipo is definitely an upgrade over Reggie Bullock for the offensively-challenged Knicks and can enhance their playoff chances. If the Knicks trade for him, the sense is that they are trying to one-up the Heat in the recruiting process; that they believe their new culture will convince Oladipo to stay in New York beyond the season.

But it’s a double-edged sword.

There’s that risk of the Knicks still not making the playoffs, and as a result, Oladipo would still want to go to the more established Heat organization.

If there is anything we have learned so far from Leon Rose’s leadership, they are navigating this Knicks rebuild with prudence and patience.

The overwhelming sense is that the Knicks will ride out the season with what they have and make the big moves in the summer.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Knicks News: Blake Griffen off the table, Victor Oladipo still in play

New York Knicks, Blake Griffin

The New York Knicks have developed incredible camaraderie and chemistry this season, as they’re one game above .500, and head coach Tom Thibodeau has once again built a playoff-caliber team. New York has been quiet as of late regarding trades, with the deadline inching closer on March 25. However, President Leon Rose is keeping tabs on several players he could utilize assets to acquire.

The Knicks have plenty of assets to send in a potential trade for a star, including multiple first-round picks and youth players like Kevin Knox and veteran Austin Rivers. This might be the most advantageous the Knicks have been in quite some time, with a decent team that would likely be attractive to a star and the means of actually acquiring them in the first place.

Over the past few weeks, New York has been connected to Bradley Beal, Zach LaVine, and now Victor Oladipo. In fact, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst believes that a superstar could try and force his way to New York down the road. He projected that within 12 months, someone will demand a trade, so Rose might be advantageous to wait and pay less for a disgruntled star who desires a move rather than overpay for one that is on the fence.

Recently, former All-Star Blake Griffen forced his way out by the Detroit Pistons but is unlikely to join the Knicks as he prefers a team in a position to compete for a championship, with the Brooklyn Nets being a popular name.

According to the NY Post, the Knicks are not interested in Blake Griffen, likely due to their plethora of power forwards.

There is one player who the Knicks are still interested in, though, and it’s Houston Rockets’ guard Victor Oladipo.

As per Marc Berman of the Post:

Oladipo, however, remains in play for the Knicks as the Rockets are expected to trade him at the deadline as they slide into oblivion. Oladipo will be a free agent in 2021 and reportedly wants to sign with the Heat. That would make Oladipo a rental as the Knicks look to boost their bid to snap a seven-year playoff drought.

The Knicks likely wouldn’t have to give up too much for Victor, but if they do acquire him, they should extend him immediately. He’s averaging 19.9 points with Houston this season, including 4.7 assists and 4.9 total rebounds. He’s capable of being an All-Star and offensive weapon, but he needs to be in the right situation. The problem, the Knicks have a few point guards at their disposal, but he might overtake Reggie Bullock as the team’s primary shooting guard.

A lineup consisting of Oladipo, Derrick Rose, Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson/Nerlens Noel, and RJ Barrett would be enticing, it all depends on his price tag.

Brooklyn goes all-in, net Harden in blockbuster 4-team trade

The Brooklyn Nets are going all-in!

The Nets pushed all their chips on the table to acquire Houston Rocket’s disgrunted superstar James Harden, forming a super team with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

Brooklyn gave up its young core led by Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen, multiple first-round picks, and pick swaps in the blockbuster deal.

The trade expanded to include the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Indiana Pacers, as first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne.

The Rockets then shipped LeVert to the Pacers for Victor Oladipo. Allen and Prince were re-routed to the Cavaliers.

The final trade scenario looked like this, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania:

Nets acquired:

  • James Harden

Rockets acquired:

  • Victor Oladipo (via Pacers)
  • Dante Exum (via Cavaliers)
  • Rodions Kurucs (via Nets)
  • Nets’ unprotected first-round picks (2022, 2024, 2026)
  • pick swaps with Nets (2021, 2023, 2025, 2027)
  • Cavaliers’ 2022 first-round pick (via Milwaukee Bucks)
  • future second-round pick (via Pacers)

Pacers acquired:

  • Caris LeVert (via Nets)
  • future second-round pick (via Rockets)

Cavaliers acquired:

  • Jarett Allen (via Nets)
  • Taurean Prince (via Nets)

‘It can’t be fixed’

The trade which Harden pushed so hard since the offseason escalated quickly after his zoom interview last night.

“We’re not even close, honestly, to, obviously, the defending champions (Lakers) and all the other elite teams out there,” Harden said. “I mean, you can tell the difference in these last two games.

“Chemistry, talent-wise, everything. It’s clear. I love this city. I’ve literally done everything I can. It’s crazy. I don’t think it can be fixed. Thanks.”

The Rockets eventually caved in to his trade demand.

Reunion in Brooklyn

Harden is now reunited with Durant, his former Oklahoma City Thunder teammate.

The Nets got much-needed firepower after losing Spencer Dinwiddie to a season-ending injury. An uneven start forced the Nets to mortgage their future for the present. It didn’t help that Irving also went on leave due to personal reasons.

The trade, though, left the Nets’ bench gutted.

They have three more spots to fill. Look out for Jamal Crawford’s name to be linked to the Nets anew. Crawford played for the Nets in the Orlando bubble.

Moving on

The Rockets, meanwhile, can now move forward from the drama that engulfed the team up to this point.

Oladipo will team up with John Wall at the backcourt.

The Rockets endured a volatile offseason with Harden instigating a ‘holdout’ in the training camp. That caused him to miss the beginning of training camp and their first two preseason games. He was subsequently fined for violating the league’s health protocols.

On the other hand, the Cavaliers got an emerging young center in Allen. He will serve as their center of the future with Andre Drummond set to hit free agency.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

New York Knicks a ‘potential trade partner’ for Victor Oladipo

New York Knicks, Kevin Knox, RJ Barrett

According to Jonathan Macri of Knicks Film School, the New York Knicks are a “potential trade partner” for Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo, who “wants out” this offseason.

“Staying in Indiana for a moment, fresh off reports of an unsettled locker room and one Eastern Conference executive betting that the Pacers trade two-time All-Star Victor Oladipo before next season, I heard from a league source that “he wants out,” and that there are whispers of the Knicks being a potential trade partner.”

Oladipo has spent the last three seasons with the Pacers. This season he appeared in 19 games, 16 of which were starts, due to his recovery from a 2019 leg injury; he averaged 14.5 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game while shooting 39.4 percent from the field.

The Indiana product’s standout season was the 2017-18 NBA campaign; Oladipo averaged 23.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.4 steals per game while shooting 37.1 percent from beyond the arc. He has been an NBA All-Star in two of the last three seasons.

Oladipo has one more season remaining on his four-year, $85 million contract, and he has been a recurring trade candidate for the upcoming offseason.

The Knicks have been linked to a bevy of high-profile guards since president Leon Rose took over as team president in February, including Oladipo, Chris Paul, Donovan Mitchell and Devin Booker.

New York could offer Indiana some combination of players who are on rookie deals including RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, Kevin Knox, Frank Ntilikina and Dennis Smith Jr. They also have their own first and second-round pick (8, 38) and the Los Angeles Clippers’ first rounder (27) in October’s NBA Draft. New York has seven first-round selections over the next four drafts.

Oladipo, 28, could spearhead new head coach Tom Thibodeau’s offense. Kenny Payne, Johnnie Bryant, Andy Greer, Doc Yoshimoto and former Knicks head coach Mike Woodson are assistants on Thibodeau’s staff.

New York Knicks need to be cautious if they want to go after Victor Oladipo

More New York Knicks “could target” or “are expected to pursue” rumors are back.  This time around we’re talking about Victor Oladipo.

Oladipo would’ve been a no-brainer for the Knicks to “pursue” or “target” before he got hurt.  He ruptured quad tendon in his right knee on Jan. 23 against the Toronto Raptors and missed the remainder of the season.

Before fans start saying “the Knicks should be all in” on pursuing Oladipo, let’s relax first.  The name fans need to remember is Antonio McDyess.  The Knicks signed an injury prone McDyess and it was just an awful situation.  The team can’t afford to have another situation like that one their hands.

This is not saying that Oladipo is like McDyess.  That’s not what we’re saying.  But the Knicks haven’t had the best luck with giving players big money who are injury prone.  Everything in the medical world and rehabilitation are different.  It’s more advanced than it was when McDyess was in the league.  Players do have a better chance of coming back than in decades past.

If, big if, the Knicks were to go after Oladipo they would need to do their homework on his injury.  Despite all the medical advances, you still have to be cautious of a player who’s had a, almost, career-ending injury like Oladipo.  Yes, he came back this season and is averaging 13.8 points a game.  However, even though he was technically healthy, he wasn’t his former all-star self.

Also, the Pacers aren’t going to let Oladipo go.  That just isn’t going to happen. He’s probably the best player to come through Indiana, minus Paul George, in a decade.  Even with his injury, you can’t let a player leave.  Although, according to SNYs Ian Begley, the Pacers offered Oladipo a 4 year, 80 million dollar extension and he turned that down.  Could or should the Knicks look to strike?

Many Knicks fans will want Oladipo.  They just have to remember that after a possible career-altering injury, it could be difficult for Oladipo to return to that peak form.  The New York Knicks just need to be careful if that want to truly go down that path, of injury prone players, again.