The New York Knicks are winning. Sometimes it’s pretty, sometimes it’s not. But they’re winning. After 31 games of this 72-game season, the Knicks sit one game below .500 at 15-16.
Through 31 games last season, the Knicks were 7-24.
Forgive the fans for being unbearable, it’s been a while since it’s been like this.
The Knicks only played twice last week. On Wednesday, the Knicks suffered a disappointing loss to a struggling Orlando Magic team, 107-89. The Knicks let Terrence Ross score 30 points off the bench while the Knicks’ bench, which has been one of the stronger areas for this team, scored 26 points total.
But, they made up for it on Sunday… kinda.
They hosted the DeAngelo Russell-less Minnesota Timberwolves and dominated for most of the game. The Knicks’ largest lead was 21 points, but Karl Anthony-Towns went bananas in the fourth quarter, scoring 13 points and led a ferocious comeback. The Knicks were able to hold off the comeback and hold on for the 103-99 win.
After the game, the Timberwolves fired Ryan Saunders.
But one thing continues to be clear about this Knicks team: they can’t shoot from behind the arc.
They went 7-for-27 in Wednesday’s loss to Orlando. That’s 26%.
They went 6-for-18 in Sunday’s win over Minnesota. That’s 33%.
The Knicks currently ranks the 19th in the NBA in three-point percentage at 35.7%. Among players who have played more than five games, Julius Randle leads the team in three-point percentage at 41%. Alec Burks trails him at 40.7% with Kevin Knox behind him at 37.9%.
So what should the Knicks do?
In my opinion, I think the Knicks should stand down right now.
Of course, the frustration of not making a three is present, but it’s worked thus far for the Knicks. They’ve been winning, they sit in the 7th seed as of Monday morning.
This team is a playoff team the way it is now. They aren’t winning The Finals this year, regardless if they make a trade or not. Why trade assets now for a team that won’t win it all? Let the kids continue to develop and work on their game. Then, let the ping pong balls work their wonders.
After the lottery is when I think the Knicks should shop around more aggressively. But, make sure Barrett, Randle, Robinson and Quickley aren’t involved.
Picture this: The Knicks make the playoffs and get bounced in the first round. A young team gets playoff experience, they trade for a good player and a big-time free agent sees this and figures the Knicks are on the right track and signs here.
Boom. Eternal rebuild completed.
So who are some players the Knicks should trade for?
The Washington Wizards don’t have interest in trading Beal, but let’s do this anyway.
Beal, whose PER is at 25.0 on Monday morning, will be making his first career start in the All-Star game after gaining enough votes from the fans, media and players to place him as a top two guard in the East. Beal has put up 32.9 PPG on 47.8 percent shooting from the field and 89.3 percent from the line for a less than stellar Wizards team. However, the 37.7 percent career shooter from behind the arc is shooting a tough 33% from three.
There have been many reports Beal has become unhappy in Washington seeing the direction the team is headed after the trade of John Wall. But Wizards management think they have a playoff team with Russell Westbrook and Beal. Earlier in the campaign, Beal’s body language said “I’m done” despite never uttering anything close to that while they continued to lose.
Numerous teams are certainly willing to help the Wizards rebuild by giving up assets to take in Beal’s contract, if the Wizards decide to go that route. The 27-year-old Beal is owed $27.7M this year and will be owed $34.5M next season. He also has an option for the 2022-23 season in which he will be owed $37.2M.
But, the Wizards are now on a little hot streak. They’ve won four straight and now find themselves with a 10-17 record.
That’s good enough for 13th place in the East.
The Chicago Bulls guard is another name the Knicks should call about.
The 25-year-old has been playing incredibly well over the last eight games. He has put up 281 points over that time. The only other Bull with that many points in an eight-game span is some guy who went to North Carolina named Michael Jordan.
10 and 11 games ago, LaVine put up 21 and 24 points, respectively, against the Knicks.
LaVine is making a case to be an All-Star, too. His 28.9 PPG on 51.8 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from behind the arc will certainly catch the eyes of the coaches who will have the duty to fill in the bench. If he keeps up those numbers, those would all be career highs for LaVine.
LaVine, who’s PER sits at 23.0, is contracted through this and next season. He is owed $19.5M for the two seasons and is slated to be a free agent in the summer of 2022 at 27 years old.
Mr. Playoffs himself.
I think Redick would be the only player I’d be okay trading for during the season, if the price isn’t too steep.
He is averaging just 8.0 PPG while shooting 38.1 percent from the field and 35.8 percent from three in 27 games, all off the bench for the 13-17 New Orleans Pelicans, who sit in 9th in the West.
Of course, those numbers are not attractive at all, but it’s JJ Redick. For anyone who disagrees, let me remind you Redick is a career 45/41/89 shooter. A professional marksman is what the Knicks desperately needs. The Knicks need someone who fans will see set up for a shot behind the arc and feel confident the ball will go in.
The 36-year-old Redick is owed a little over $13M this season, the final year of his contract He will be 37 years old by the time free agency comes around.
All of these players all have one thing in common: shooting guard. Slide in any of these names into a line up alongside Barrett and Randle at the forward positions would certainly be fun to watch.
IN OTHER NEWS: Sunday was the final game without fans at Madison Square Garden. A few weeks ago, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced teams in the state of New York could allow 10% of their venue’s capacity. Following that, the Knicks and Madison Square Garden announced they’ll host roughly 2,000 fans starting on Tuesday. This comes as COVID-19 numbers in New York dwindle. In January, the Buffalo Bills hosted an NFL playoff game in which 7,000 fans packed Bills Stadium across the state in Orchard Park. Cuomo called it “an unparalleled success.”
On Saturday, the NBA announced the addition of one more game to the first half of the Knicks’ schedule. The Knicks will host the Detroit Pistons on Thursday, March 4 at 7:30pm.
UP NEXT: The Knicks will host Wardell Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday evening at 7:30pm, Tyrese Haliburton and the Sacramento Kings on Thursday evening at 7:30pm and Domantas Sabonis and the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night at 8pm before flying to Michigan to take on Dennis Smith, Jr. and the Detroit Pistons on Sunday night at 8pm.
All times are EST.