The New York Knicks are a team that’s both battling for the playoffs and looking to build for the future.
That has placed the Knicks (20-24 entering Wednesday) right in the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference — a rise in the rankings when you consider recent seasons.
But it has also made things very interesting with the Feb. 8 trade deadline approaching.
Do the Knicks move their older players, creating room for growth next season? Or do they keeping playing their veterans in hopes of maintaining chemistry and making a long-awaited return to the postseason?
It’s not a huge conundrum, but it is something to think about as the season surpasses the midway point.
So, who could the Knicks look to unload prior to the deadline? Obviously, the older guys, and of course, the guys with major contracts.
The list could include swingman Courtney Lee, forward Michael Beasley and centers Joakim Noah, Kyle O’Quinn and especially, Willy Hernangomez.
“Undoubtedly, the Knicks will ease their ridiculous four-man center glut,” wrote Marc Berman of the New York Post. “Dumping Joakim Noah, who can still defend, in a larger trade to lighten their salary cap would be a fantastic coup. Minnesota’s Tom Thibodeau could have interest as he gears up for the playoffs. Noah is owed nearly $38 million over the next two seasons, though.”
According to Berman, Hernangomez is the player the Knicks are asked about most. Still, he may not be the one who the Knicks actually trade.
“By far, the likeliest center candidate to go Feb. 8 is Kyle O’Quinn, who has gotten feelers,” Berman wrote. “He needs to go to open playing time for 23-year-old bedrock Willy Hernangomez. O’Quinn has been Enes Kanter’s reliable backup but will opt out after the season, and the Knicks won’t pay him.”
Forwards Lance Thomas and Doug McDermott could also be available, Berman added.
In other words, when it comes to the Knicks, there are a lot of possibilities and perhaps more than a few moving parts that could assist teams in true contention.
With the trade deadline rapidly approaching and the season in the balance, all of it makes the Knicks a team to watch.