As the usual NBA fan is aware of, the Knicks has a more documented storied history of organization failures in modern NBA history. None more fresh than the Carmelo Anthony trade where the Knicks organization traded the entire barn and some to Denver to secure Melo’s services. Now it’s 2022 offseason and the Knicks have tasted the sweet honey of competitive postseason basketball for the first time in what feels like a lifetime of despair. And they crave more. Left with the bitterness of Sooner (BOOMER SOONER!!!) alum dancing all over MSG stadium from a city that does not hold a candle to the megalopolis of the Big Apple, the public demands that the past playoff season be more than a fluke but more to come. Dolan agrees. He kicks down the door of the front office, shows the profits they accrued and DEMAND that another big star must be acquired to keep the Knicks competitively relevant. With cap space and limited assets, the owner demands that the Knicks should burst into the 2021-22 season with star power near rivaling the Nets from across the boroughs. Even to the hesitance of his basketball staff, Dolan insists no one is off the table. Not even RJ Barrett….
While its often parroted by the mainstream sports media the Knicks have max cap space money, it can be overlooked the possibility of signing said max caliber players. Chris Paul and Kawhi Leonard, two superstars with player options, are on teams that has gotten further in the postseason than the Knicks and would elect to stay with their team. Then options would be very limited on the free agent market where the best restricted free agents are either Lonzo Ball and Lauri Markannen while Mike Conley, Kyle Lowry, and Demar DeRozan represent the best available unrestricted free agents. Not the best option for an organization trying to capitalize off a playoff run. The Knicks could play it safe. Resigning Rose and other vets, make a modest FA signing, capitalize off their 2 first round and 3 second round selections for the better players in the draft and bank on development of Randle and Barrett. Or the Knicks could cash in on a trade while the windows are available.
Personally, I have excluded the Knicks as serious trade partners for Beal. Outside of Barrett, Immanuel Quickley and Mitchell Robinson are the only players with considerable value other teams would pine for. Obi Toppin played limited minutes and contributed less to his first season and Kevin Knox is an afterthought. It remains to be seen if Randle will be kept as the core piece of the future because moving on from him will signal a complete team rebuild. But it is not out of the question for New York who could try to follow a Heatle-like top heavy roster construction with just under $55 million committed in the payroll next season committed to eight players. And of those eight players, only Barrett, Quickley, Robinson, and Randle played over 19 minutes per game. Depth is very limited.
For Washington, before the rumors of Barrett being on the table, I did not think a package of Quickley, Robinson, either Knox/Toppin, and future 1st rd selections (#22 this year, and likely lower selections in the next couple of years). Now that Barrett is on the table a package involving him, Quickley, 19th and 22nd pick (2021), and a future 2023 1st rd (Dallas' top 10 protected pick preferred) would be enough for a star player such as Bradley Beal plus a role player (say Hutchinson or Avdija). While the proposed package is a good deal, there are likely offers from teams like GSW or New Orleans Pelicans with more valuable players and lottery selections. But Washington currently finds themselves in the last years of Beal’s contract with limited resources to improve the team outside of the 15th selection and the MLE/BLE. Additionally, they are currently searching for a new head coach which would take some time to adjust. Another slow start could lead to a wasted season as the team heads to the trade deadline. The clock is ticking for the Washington front office to cash in on Beal’s trade value.
Both teams find themselves in interesting situations where they need drastic changes to improve in the future. The rumored inclusion of Barrett in potential trade deals show the Knicks organization is serious about winning now. Washington has no motive to move unless Beal wants to but could find themselves flat-footed when all the teams made their moves during the offseason. And there is no guarantee Beal’s value will stay the same at the trade deadline. If the Wizards want to fully go forward with a new direction for the team with a new head coach, they may have to consider what the Knicks have to offer. Because