Nothing is a given at the NBA trade deadline. With that said, the New York Knicks seem poised to be sellers.
Who could be on the move? Where could they go?
Here are landing spots for potential trade candidates.
Wayne Ellington to the Philadelphia 76ers
76ers receive: Wayne Ellington
Knicks receive: Mike Scott, 2020 second-round pick via the Dallas Mavericks
The 76ers need outside shooting, and Wayne Ellington has fallen out of the Knicks rotation. See where this is going?
Philadelphia went into Monday 20th in the NBA in three-point shooting percentage (34.9). Most of their rotation fixtures are capable of sticking outside jump shots, but it’s not their go-to tendency.
Ellington is a career 37.7 percent shooter from beyond the arc and is adept at shooting on the fly while running around the perimeter. His ability to stretch the floor would limit double teams thrown at Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. In scenarios where they’re still drawing two defenders, Ellington can stick an open three-pointer.
Ellington began the regular season as a consistent rotation player with the Knicks, but his presence on the floor has become a sighting over the last month, especially with Reggie Bullock now healthy. Any trade that comes with a young player on a rookie deal or a second-round pick should work for New York.
The Knicks can buyout Scott, allowing him to sign with a playoff contender.
Taj Gibson to the Los Angeles Clippers
Clippers receive: Taj Gibson
Knicks receive: Maurice Harkless
There has been a lot of discussion about the Clippers wanting to trade for Marcus Morris, but the Knicks seem to want to keep the veteran forward. Alternatively, the Clippers could look to acquire Taj Gibson.
Yes, Montrezl Harrell, Ivica Zubac, and JaMychal Green are steady forces. At the same time, the Clippers could use another big body. Gibson is a sound two-way player. He has a midrange game, finishes inside, hits the boards, and is a proven defender. Gibson can play 10-15 minutes a night and cover the opposing team’s center.
He has a great deal of playoff experience and should be able to seamlessly transition into head coach Doc Rivers’ rotation. With a team option worth roughly $10 million for the 2020-21 season, the Clippers would have the option of keeping Gibson past this season. Concerning Harkless, the Clippers have a handful of wings and speedy forwards; he’s kind of expendable, from their perspective.
For the Knicks’ sake, maybe Harkless impresses with consistent playing time in his home city (Harkless grew up in Queens, NY and attended St. John’s University). If not, they can let him walk in free agency.
Bobby Portis to the Dallas Mavericks
Mavericks receive: Bobby Portis
Knicks receive: Courtney Lee, 2021 second-round pick
The Knicks and Mavericks swung a trade before last season’s NBA trade deadline, so why not do it again?
Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis continue to encounter injuries, and Dwight Powell recently tore his Achilles; it makes sense for the Mavericks to be in the market for a frontline player. Portis is a well-rounded offensive threat. He stretches the floor, plays in the post, and plays with tenacity. Portis is averaging 9.5 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. At 6-foot-11, Portis has the athleticism to play the four or five. His outside shooting bodes well for the shoot-happy Mavs.
He also has a $15 million team option for next season (yeah, it seems like everyone on the Knicks has a team option for next season), so they’d have the option of keeping him past this season. Concerning what they’d be shipping to New York, Lee has appeared in just 10 games this season, and a future second-round pick is a marginal asset for the Mavericks to surrender if they’re contending.
This trade gives the Knicks another draft pick, and they can buyout Lee’s contract, allowing him to sign with a playoff contender.
Dennis Smith Jr. to the Minnesota Timberwolves
Timberwolves receive: Dennis Smith Jr.
Knicks receive: Jordan Bell, Jaylen Nowell
Smith is in the midst of a nightmare season low-lighted by limited playing time and inefficient shooting. After trading Jeff Teague to the Atlanta Hawks, a void exists in the Timberwolves backcourt rotation. Taking a flier on Smith is worth the price of admission.
They wouldn’t have to surrender any top draft picks or young building blocks, albeit Bell is a respectable two-way player and Nowell is a rookie. Smith is an energetic player. He’s explosive off the dribble, skies above the rim, and can get others involved. He has the talent to be an 82-game starter; he just needs a change of scenery. Running the show in Minnesota and finding Karl-Anthony Towns inside could be a godsend for Smith’s career.
Meanwhile, Bell could be one of the first players off head coach Mike Miller’s bench. He’s tenacious inside, could blossom into a reliable rotation player, and find a home in the Big Apple. Nowell has appeared in just seven games this season, but with the Knicks out of playoff contention, he could be given playing time to prove himself down the stretch.
Minnesota gets a compelling, young point guard to experiment with, and the Knicks get a couple of players to work with. Each team gets what they want.