Knicks trade scenarios: What I’m hearing about Immanuel Quickley, Cam Reddish and Evan Fournier
The N.B.A The trade season unofficially begins next week.
That’s what I’m hearing about it New York Knicks.
League sources say the Knicks have been active in trade calls until Dec. 15, the date when most players who signed new contracts last summer are eligible for trades. A mid-December deal is rare, but history says to keep an eye on the Knicks, known for getting their work done early.
During the first season at the helm of the team president, Leon Rose, New York acquired Derrick Rose in early February, nearly two months before the 2021 trade deadline. It was the NBA’s first significant trade of 2020-21. A season later, the Knicks once again began the league’s roster of changes, bringing in Cam Reddish a month before the deadline.
Now, the Knicks are on the phone.
They got calls to Fournier leading up to last winter’s trade deadline and then again over the summer. He has two seasons left, including this one, on his contract and has not been on the court for three weeks. But it’s not like they’re desperate to send him out of town.
The Knicks have shown no interest in attaching draft picks to Fournier just to move him, league sources said. Still, that doesn’t mean a Fournier trade is impossible. They have expressed to other teams that they would consider giving him a less desirable contract if it meant getting an asset back. The Knicks owe Fournier $18 million this season and $18.9 million next season. There is a team option for 2024-25, the final season of his contract, for $19 million.
Taking Fournier’s salary off the books next season wouldn’t do much for flexibility in 2023. Let’s say, hypothetically, that the Knicks found a way to flip him for an expiring contract; they would still have to allocate more money to create a significant margin for next summer. They have eight more players under contract for 2023-24 (Jalen Brunson, Julius Randle, RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, Isaiah Hartenstein, Obi Toppin, Quentin Grimes and Quickley), which puts them up against the projected salary cap.
They’ve also said they’re willing to plug Quickley or Reddish into Fournier to make a trade work, league sources said.
The Knicks have discussed with other teams various types of Offers related to Quickley. In discussions about the 23-year-old being the stand-alone piece coming out, New York has targeted a future first-round pick, league sources said. The team is full of guys who could justify playing time. Passing one of the guards could free up space.
It’s a change from years past when the Knicks have added rotation players, like Rose and Reddish, at the deadline. There is plenty of time for goals to change. A deal where they send two players down and bring one back or something like that is also possible, but for now, they’ve made it clear to other teams that their goal is to free up space on a crowded roster.
There isn’t much demand for Rose, the former MVP who fell from the Knicks’ rotation during Sunday’s win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Rose, who has an expiring contract, still has fireball moments, but they’ve been more scarce this season than ever, and the league has noticed. His playing time has dropped, as has his production, and at age 34, teams are generally concerned about his burst and injury history.
Quickley has fans in other offices. The question is, do they like it enough to pay the Knicks price? Remember, not all first round picks are created equal. There’s a difference between a top-20 protected first rounder that eventually turns into a couple of seconds and a more lightly protected one that has a legitimate shot at making it to New York.
Any team talking about Quickley should also consider his finances. He’s on a cheap entry-level contract and isn’t a free agent until 2024, but is eligible for an extension after this season. Don’t trade a first-rounder for a player in his situation without first considering whether you want to pay him in short order. Complicating the issue is that many of the contending teams that could use an extra guard have already landed at least one first-round pick, though Quickley is young and promising enough that a rebuilding team could also justify a deal for him.
Meanwhile, Reddish’s market is scarcer. The Knicks traded a first-round pick and Kevin Knox for Reddish in January, but, as with Fournier, they heard offers for him before the February deadline and then again over the summer, sources in the League. The chances of New York recouping what they gave up for him would be slim, especially considering he fell out of coach Tom Thibodeau’s rotation recently and can enter restricted free agency this coming summer.
There’s also another less-discussed deadline: Friday, Dec. 9 is the last day a team can trade for a player who is allowed to be aggregated with other players in a trade before the deadline. The NBA trade deadline is February 9th.
(Top photo by Quickley and Cam reddish: Brad Penner / USA Today)
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