Wrapping Up the Week
We follow up on several of this week's topics today, plus another Knick You Knew from Ray Marcano.
Good morning! Today we have a triple feature: a brief “Ask Macri” related to yesterday’s column, a new “Knick You Knew” from Ray Marcano, and finally some reader responses to my All-Time Knicks team. Let’s get to it…
Lingering Trade Thoughts
A mini-Ask Macri for the Friday edition:
Benjy makes a good point here, and one I think gets at the heart of an under-analyzed aspect of any potential trade: How are the Knicks supposed to balance their own internal evaluations with the realities of their roster construction next season and moving forward?
Let’s use Benjy’s question to illustrate what I mean, and start with a hypothetical. Let’s say, for instance, that the Knicks have explored the market on Julius Randle and found that he is viewed around the league as an utterly toxic asset at this time (and to be clear, I’m not reporting this). They also have Carmelo Anthony waiting for a phone call, ready and willing to come back to New York for a retirement tour (again, NOT reporting). Finally, after much internal deliberation, they see the way the league is going, with the best teams playing a jumbo wing at the four for upwards of 30 minutes a night as they get deeper and deeper into the playoffs. Their hope is that RJ Barrett can eventually slide into such a role, and when he does, Quentin Grimes will ultimately be playing starters minutes (for the last time: NOT REPORTING, just positing).
Now, given all of the above, let’s also say they adore Obi Toppin. Absolutely love him. Think he’ll ignite home crowds for the next decade. Believe he just needs a chance to show his stuff alongside a couple of dynamic guards who can get him the ball in the right spots.
What are they supposed to do? They know Randle doesn’t make nearly as much sense with the Brunson/Mitchell/Barrett trio as Toppin does, and yet they also know the only way to rehab Randle’s value and get him off the team is to play him, and even then, it might take the whole season before they’re able to find a workable trade. They just committed $23 million in annual dollars to the center spot, so they can only buy Obi so much extra time that way. If you factor in that they may be extremely high on Grimes, that’s one more additional complicating factor. It means Obi should be in the deal, right?
But this is also a two-way street. Let’s alter the hypothetical and say that Utah, while amenable to whatever picks the Knicks have offered, is holding firm that they don’t want to take back any multi-year deals in this trade. That means it has to be Rose (plus Reddish) as the baseline money going out in the trade, plus a little more to get the math to work.
As the sides negotiate over what that “little more” is, the Knicks know that they’ll probably be stuck with Evan Fournier for a while. They also know they’ll be hamstrung defensively with all three of Brunson, Mitchell and Fournier on the court at once, which further limits Fournier’s potential playing time. But like the Randle conundrum above, they know they have to give Fournier minutes if they have a prayer of moving on from him at some point. In this scenario, one of Quickley or Grimes would seem the ideal candidate to go to Utah, except to make the math work, it has to be both of them, plus Cam and Evan. That would be painful, especially since the Jazz still want their pound of flesh in picks.
Of course, if the Knicks have it their way, they’ll get to keep all three of these kids, send Fournier, Rose and Cam to Utah as the outgoing money in the deal, play Randle for a few months so they can up his trade value, move him around Christmas, slot Toppin into the starting five, and bring Melo in from the bullpen after he’s waited patiently for their call. And how much more in draft equity, pray tell, will Danny Ainge demand to set things up so nicely for Leon Rose & Co?
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