The New York Knicks are in flux as the NBA trade deadline approaches.
New York is 23-17 on the season and is on pace for 47 victories, the same number of wins last year when they finished fifth in the Eastern Conference. However, the Knicks are currently seventh in the conference this season.
While there is still half a season remaining, so there is a lot that could change. But right now, five teams look poised to battle for No. 4-No. 6 seeds, as each time has between 22 and 24 victories.
New York certainly could be the team that moves into the fourth position, as they have played well since acquiring OG Anunoby. The Knicks have a +3.8 scoring margin, the best among the teams vying for the final three spots, and are 6-2 on the season since they acquired Anunoby. Their two losses were each by four points to the Dallas Mavericks and Orlando Magic.
New York is one of the best teams at home. The Knicks will play 25 of their final 42 games at MSG. But the Knicks are just 7-17 against teams with a .500+ record.
Knicks Looking For Backcourt Help
When New York dealt Quickley to Toronto, that presumably opened playing time back up for Quentin Grimes. Grimes was demoted to the second unit in early December after struggling to find his shooting stroke.
Grimes has been much better since coming off the bench, producing a shooting slash line of .445/.437/.637 in 19 appearances. But he hasn’t provided more than a few 3-pointers a game. Grimes averaged 11.3 points last season, though just 6.9 this year. The Knicks are a plus/minus -3.0 when Grimes is on the floor.
Therein lies the problem. With Quickley gone, the Knicks don’t have anyone who can get a bucket consistently off the bench.
New York ranks in the bottom third of the league in bench scoring at 32.5 points a game. The Knicks have been much worse since Quickley’s departure, compiling 26.4 points with a shooting slash line of .409/.382/.800 with a -0.3 scoring margin.
As a result of this lack of production, Prosper said the Knicks are looking for a proven scorer off the bench.
More specifically, according to The Athletic’s Fred Katz, with the Knicks not necessarily hopeful that a star-caliber player who fits into their plans will be available at the deadline, they are looking for someone who meets four specific criteria.
Parting with Immanuel Quickley and RJ Barrett meant losing contributors who could create off the dribble.
Now, the Knicks are trying to recoup some of what they forfeited. Throughout January, they have been on the phones, surveying other teams for present-day help, according to league executives who have been in contact with them.
The Knicks have cratered in the sans-[Jalen] Brunson minutes. Over the nine games following the deal, they are scoring only 104.8 points per 100 possessions with Brunson on the bench, compared to 125.9 while he is in the game.
For perspective, if that 104.8 points-per-100 figure belonged to a team this season, that team would place last in the NBA by far. Meanwhile, 125.9 per 100 would blow away the greatest offense of all time.
So, besides someone who can score, Katz added that the Knicks are interested in a player who is not on an expiring contract and has a reasonable salary. He could run the offense when Brunson isn’t on the floor and be someone Tom Thibodeau can trust.
Who Are New York’s Possible Trade Targets?
According to Katz, several players fit the bill.
Malcolm Brogdon would be a fantastic fit with the Knicks, as he is exactly what the Knicks are reportedly looking for. Brogdon is the NBA’s reigning 6th-Man of the Year, one of the league’s best shooters, and an excellent playmaker who can run an offense. The 31-year-old has one more year and $22.5 million on his deal.
Terry Rozier is also an excellent creator for himself and others. The 29-year-old is on the smallish side and is better suited to be a starter, which, in the Knicks’ case, they would move Dante DiVincenzo back to the bench. Rozier, having a career season, has two more years and $51.5 million left on his deal.
Bruce Brown was dealt by the Indiana Pacers to the Toronto Raptors as part of the Pascal Siakam three-team trade today. Brown is not a traditional point guard or a great scorer. But he takes good shots and is efficient while being a capable ball-handler and defender. Brown’s $23 million salary next year is a club option.
T.J. McConnell would be an excellent addition to New York due to his leadership, ball-handling, ability to create for others, and energy. The Knicks did invest in Miles McBride following the Anunoby trade, so it’s unknown whether the Knicks want to add a similar player. Plus, Indiana has not expressed a desire to trade the 31-year-old. He has one more season and $9.3 million left on his contract.
Bogdan Bogdanovic is one of the best pure scorers who is a trade candidate. Known as a 3-point marksman, he is an underrated ball-handler capable of running an offense. He has three years and $49 million remaining on his deal, with 2026-27 being a team option.
Caris LeVert is an electric scorer who can create offense for himself and others. He is also a strong ball-handler and capable distributor. LeVert has one year and $16.6 million left on his pact.
Tim Hardaway Jr is a former Knick who is a 3-point point marksman. He can handle the rock and run an offense, though he is not really a playmaker. The 31-year-old has one year and $16.1 million left on his deal.
Dejounte Murray,Alec Burks, Daniel Gafford, and Andre Drummond have also been mentioned as potential targets for New York. Murray is reportedly the ideal target for the Knicks, but the price may be too high at this point, and there are other suitors for him.
Additionally, Katz added that there is “increasing optimism” about Mitchell Robinson‘s chances of returning from his injury before the season ends. So, the Knicks may not be looking for a center. Drummond has been playing exceptionally well for the Bulls, and the Wizards are reportedly looking for a ransom in return for Gafford.
Who Could New York Send Out?
New York is reportedly actively shopping Grimes. So, the Knicks could package him with Evan Fournier‘s expiring contract and some draft picks to make a deal work. The Knicks have been looking to get out from under Fournier’s contract since last February to no avail. The 31-year-old, who owns a $19 million player option next year that is guaranteed won’t be picked up, has appeared in two games this year.
New York has a gaggle of draft picks that can be used in trades. The Knicks could have four first-round selections this year, but they will likely only have two- their own and Dallas Mavericks’ top 10 protected. The Knicks also have three second-round picks.
Next year, the Knicks will likely have two first-round choices and two second-rounders. The Knicks could have two additional first-rounders (Pistons, Wizards), depending on where they fall, if they don’t convey this year. They also own their first-round picks from 2026 to 2030.