The New York Knicks have generally opted for a conservative approach to roster-building in recent years, especially since missing out on Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in 2019 free agency. They have accumulated cap space and draft picks while developing young players in the hopes that eventually, they could parlay those things into the sort of superstar they’ve so frequently missed out on over the past half-decade.
Apparently, they believe the time to acquire one is now. The Knicks are ready to package their young talent and draft picks for a superstar, according to Stefon Bondy of The New York Daily News. “They’re going to be in the mix when a star becomes available,” a source told Bondy.
The Knicks have the ammunition to make a big trade. They own all of their own first-round picks as well as two from Dallas, an unprotected choice in 2021 and a top-10 protected pick in 2023. At present, they would have the No. 8 and No. 12 slots in the 2021 lottery. They also have four lottery picks still playing out their rookie deals in Frank Ntilikina, Kevin Knox, RJ Barrett and Obi Toppin.
All of that volume can get the Knicks a seat at the table, but their lack of a single, premium asset will make closing a deal difficult. Bondy mentions Bradley Beal as a possible target, but if Philadelphia is willing to trade Ben Simmons or Denver is willing to trade Michael Porter Jr., that star-caliber upside typically ends up trumping volume-based packages like the one that the Knicks can seemingly offer.
There is also the question of the aftermath. The Knicks don’t have a star at the moment. Adding one might eventually help attract another, but where would the Knicks be if they cash in all of their chips for a single player right now? Unless that player is named LeBron James, odds are, their circumstances wouldn’t be much better. Is a depleted Knicks roster much of an improvement over Washington’s for Beal without another star coming? Probably not.
The Knicks are on the right path right now. They’re off to their best start in years and have developed a number of talented young players. But how they manage this next portion of their rebuild is going to determine how successful it ends up being. Getting a star isn’t enough. The Knicks must find the right one, at the right price and with the right surrounding talent to take the next step into contention.