Facing a seven-year playoff drought, the New York Knicks have lacked “superstar” talent since the days of Carmelo Anthony. With a 21-45 finish to the 2019-20 season, the hope was that the Knicks could draw a favorable selection in the 2020 NBA Draft.
The unfortunate luck continued however, as New York currently sits with the eighth pick in the upcoming draft. At this time, multiple reports have the front office targeting a guard such as Iowa State’s Tyrese Haliburton or North Carolina’s Cole Anthony.
However, there could be multiple options presented that allow for the Knicks to get one step closer towards contending in the Eastern Conference. Either through trade or free agency, here are three options New York has when it comes to finding its face of the franchise:
Paul George (F, Los Angeles Clippers)
It appears far-fetched at the moment, but the rumor mill has opened up in regards to the Los Angeles Clippers sending veteran Paul George to the New York Knicks in a lucrative trade. After falling to the Denver Nuggets in the playoffs, the team departed from head coach Doc Rivers. However, that may not be the only change to their roster.
A deal would need to include 21-year old Kevin Knox, as well as one of their upcoming stars in RJ Barrett or Mitchell Robinson. In addition, there would be draft capital involved in any deal made when a player of George’s caliber is involved. It would result in a rather large gamble for New York, but they would receive one of the best two-way players in return.
However, the other side of this might prove to be too much of a risk. George is in the third year of his four-year, $136.9 million contract; he is scheduled to make $35.4 million next season. If the lack of success in George’s first year with the Knicks drives him away in the 2021 free agency period, then it will be a failed experiment all together.
Chris Paul (G, Oklahoma City Thunder)
Both the New York Knicks and Oklahoma City Thunder have held discussions regarding a trade for 35-year old Chris Paul. After departing from head coach Billy Donovan, sources around the NBA believe the Thunder want a young prospect that is still on his rookie contract, as well as a first-round pick in the 2020 Draft. That prospect for the Knicks would likely result in Kevin Knox.
The two sides have been unable to agree on a deal to this point, as New York prefers to trade either Frank Ntilikina or Dennis Smith Jr; both of whom become restricted free agents in 2021. Even then, the Thunder believe they have a promising guard in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, which wipes away their immediate need for a guard in trade talks.
There is still time to negotiate ahead of the Draft, as the Knicks would gain an experienced veteran with playoff experience in Paul. In return, the Thunder would advance their process of rebuilding for future success.
Fred VanVleet (G, Toronto Raptors)
If the Knicks solely focus on the top free agents, then Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet could become an option. According to sources, the team has shown interest in VanVleet, and could offer as much as $22 million per season.
Last season, VanVleet averaged 17.6 points and 6.6 assists per game and shot nearly 40% from deep. His addition to the roster allows for flexibility in the upcoming Draft and grants the team a competitive edge moving forward.
With Raptors’ Kyle Lowry, 34, reaching the twilight stage of his career, this will likely become a bidding war for VanVleet’s services. If the Knicks ultimately decide to pursue him, they will have no choice but to overpay.