The New York Knicks, at long last, appear to be on the way up. A 47-win regular season in 2022-23 was their best in a decade, and their 4-1 series win against the Cavaliers was just their second since 2000. A well-rounded roster headlined by a talented triumvirate of guards and a capable front court including Julius Randle, RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson has been further boosted by the acquisition of Donte Divencenzo, and the Knicks will this season be hoping to again push, if not surpass, the 50-win mark.
But as with every team, there are a couple of names on the roster who don't look like playing a major role in those efforts, and who may be better served playing their basketball elsewhere. With that in mind, these are two players the Knicks should be looking to offload entering the 2023-24 NBA training camp.
Evan Fournier is the most obvious trade candidate on the Knicks' roster, and by some margin. Fournier himself made that clear almost immediately after the team was eliminated from last season's playoffs, stating that “there's no way they're going to keep me.”
It's easy to see why he would think that. The Frenchman had an interrupted season in 2022-23 and played just 27 games, but even when on the court his role was substantially reduced. He started just seven of those games, averaging 6.1 points in 17 minutes, and fell out of the rotation partway through the season, ultimately not touching the floor during their playoff run.
The Knicks already have three guards well ahead of Fournier in Jalen Brunson, Quentin Grimes and Immanuel Quickley, while each of RJ Barrett, Josh Hart and now Donte Divencenzo would also be favored in the guard/small forward position he'd play. What's more, Fournier is on a hefty contract worth nearly $19 million this year – not exactly a price the Knicks will be keen to pay given how far down the pecking order Fournier is.
Though a trade hasn't yet been done, there has been plenty of interest in Fournier, with the Spurs one name in particular which has popped up with some regularity. The Spurs, of course, have a long history with French players and have just picked up a young French guy who apparently has a bit of talent, so there would be an element of symmetry with him heading to San Antonio. But whether it's the Spurs or someone else, the Knicks need to get Fournier off the books.
This one is a little more tough. Hartenstein has shown plenty for the Knicks as a back-up center to Mitchell Robinson, and he filled in ably during his starting teammate's absence last year. But the reality is, in Robinson, Hartenstein and Jericho Sims, the Knicks have three centers capable of playing decent NBA minutes, and Robinson isn't going anywhere.
Which leaves us with two. Hartenstein was a solid enough back-up to Robinson during last year's playoffs, with Tom Thibodeau entrusting him to exactly 20 minutes per game in the postseason, but that was with Sims out through injury. It is worth mentioning, however, that even prior to that Hartenstein was the back-up center of choice, so coach Thib might not be super keen to get rid of him.
But Sims has raw, untapped talent, and some similarities to a young Mitchell Robinson in terms of his athleticism and defensive prowess which may make him the preferred protege to the Knicks' starting big man. He's also cheap as chips, on a contract worth under $2 million this season, while Hartenstein is set to be paid over $8 million to come off the bench.
This one is certainly not as obvious a move as trading Fournier, and there will be plenty of Knicks fans loathe to trade their trusty back-up. But having three centers capable of playing minutes like they currently do is a clear surplus, and particularly when Sims needs to get on the court to develop, moving on Hartenstein looks like the best way to clear the logjam at the center position.