As the NBA Trade Deadline passed a few hours ago, the general consensus is that the Knicks did the necessary, but unfortunately not the ideal when it came to late window dealing.
Given that half the roster could be dumped in the summer thanks to a cluster of team-friendly deals for players like Elfrid Payton, Bobby Portis, Reggie Bullock and so on, the Knicks had the ammunition to pepper Twitter timelines with a foray of activity, where experienced players with post-season ambitions could be traded for salary dumps attached to future picks.
With the hopes of championship challengers hinging on some much-needed depth in exchange for draft capital, the deadline came and went, and all of the Knicks’ vets were still on the team, except one.
Marcus Morris’ expiring one-year deal was the stand-out trade target when it came to the deadline. Not only that, but he was one of the marquee players still left on the market, having averaged over 19 points a game through the first four months of the season.
It was reported earlier this week that the Knicks were potentially looking to keep a hold of Morris due to both his locker room presence and his fairly efficient performance on the floor (he was shooting over 43% from three this season). However, it emerged that the decision to swat away any trade offers for the former Boston Celtic was down to Knicks President Steve Mills, who was removed from the position by owner James Dolan in the last couple of days. With the one-man fighting Morris’ corner to remain on the team now gone, Scott Perry and co entered the market to find the right suitor for the Philly native.
The two teams that kept coming up in trade talks were the city rivals pipped for a Western Conference Finals showdown, the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers. While a first-round pick as compensation was a given in terms of what the Knicks expected in return, conversations around bodies coming back to the East Coast from La La Land were mainly reported to be Clippers’ hot-shot downtown shooter Landry Shamet, and the Lakers’ talented forward Kyle Kuzma.
As deadline day approached, it was reported that the Clippers had their sights firmly set on Morris, but would not part with Shamet, a piece they believed to be pivotal in their Championship quest. As for Kuzma, it emerged that they were no longer able to entertain the idea of the 2018 All-Rookie First Team forward leaving Staples Center.
With attention once again back on the Clippers, reports surfaced that New York-born, St. John’s University product Mo Harkless would be part of any deal due to the figures matching up in the trade. Additionally, it was reported that youngsters Mfiondu Kabengele and Terrance Mann would too join the Knicks in the deal. A first-round pick, two talented rookies and a utility player in Harkless looked like a very advantageous deal for New York indeed, until news broke that the trade had been altered and that Kabengele and Mann would be going nowhere.
After lots of calls were fielded, and many back and forth’s, the final result of the trade included the Washington Wizards getting in on the act making it a three-team deal.
The full details of the trade are below.
Los Angeles Clippers receive:
Marcus Morris, PF
Isaiah Thomas, PG
New York Knicks receive:
Maurice Harkless, PF
2020 1st Round Pick (Clippers) Unprotected
2021 2nd Round Pick (Clippers via Pistons)
2021 1st Round Pick (Swap rights for highest pick via Clippers)
Draft rights to Issuf Sanon, PG (via Washington), 2018 2nd Round Pick #44
Washington Wizards receive:
Jerome Robinson, SG
The Knicks ultimately got the first-round pick they were looking for, but perhaps due to the deal taking as long as it did with two high profile suitors battling it out for Morris’ services, perhaps the returns were somewhat underwhelming in terms of value after the initial high pick.
New York grabs itself another future second-round pick via Detroit, a team that will undoubtedly be in rebuild mode after trading away franchise big Andre Drummond for the equivalent of a pack of peanuts and a two-bedroom condo in downtown Detroit. This could turn out to be a pick still in the 30’s next season, so all-in-all, not a bad addition to the deal.
I’m not going to profess to know anything about Ukranian guard Sanon, who more than likely will never play a game for the Knicks other than perhaps 2020 Summer League. Finally, the 2021 first-round pick swap might seem like a back-handed joke if you try to imagine a scenario where the Knicks finish with a better record than the Clippers in a year’s time. However, with conflicting reports on the nitty-gritty details of this element of the trade, if the premise that the Clippers traded their first-round pick for any of the first-round picks the Knicks currently hold, then there is a chance that if Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis light the league on fire in 2021 and finish with a better record than Los Angeles, then those picks could swap hands.
To put it simply, it may be a case where the Knicks can guarantee themselves a scenario that they could move forward in the draft next year, even just a few places, providing the above happens. It may be from #30 to #26, but it’s better than nothing.
To round off, the only change from the Knicks line up on Monday night’s win at the Cavs to this Saturday’s visit to Detroit will be (without injury or illness) Harkless in for Morris.
Will the Mike Miller give the younger players a shot at more minutes throughout the rest of the campaign, or will we continue to see more of Portis, Bullock, and Taj Gibson out on the floor?
Hopefully, for the sake of the fans as well as the players, it’s the former.