Whether they are a good or bad team, the New York Knicks are arguably the biggest attraction in basketball. After being a good team last year, the Knicks have been closer to bad than good, leaving New York fans disappointed that their home team is not picking up where they left off last season. However, the Knicks recently made a trade for Duke alumnus Cam Reddish, pairing him up with his college running mate RJ Barrett.
The Knicks will make a move to get Zion
Reddish is a talented player but has struggled to find consistency since entering the league. But this trade may be about something bigger than acquiring Reddish, and the Knicks could have their sights set on bringing another player close to Reddish, which will get them back to being a good team.
“This may be a Carrot for them (The Knicks) to get Zion.” - Jalen Rose, NBA on ESPN
Reddish, Barrett, and Zion were the cornerstones of one of the last Duke super teams coached by the legendary Mike Krczyweski. That Duke team did not win a national championship. Still, they were certainly one of the more exciting teams in the history of college basketball, so the idea of bringing those three back together in New York is exciting and certainly something the Knicks are considering.
Will the Pelicans let Zion walk away?
Zion Willaimson’s disappointment with the New Orleans Pelicans has been highlighted by rumors swirling around the NBA world for years now, mainly due to a perceived lack of commitment to winning. While there was no way to validate that in earlier years, the organization showed its true colors this past offseason by letting Lonzo Ball walk in free agency. Losing a player that was not only among the best point guards in the league but one who opened up a lot of opportunities for Zion’s game to flourish. Whether the Pelicans are committed to winning is something that only the front office can confirm, but their actions suggest that winning may not be the top priority for David Griffin and the rest of the Pelicans’ brass.
The Pelicans’ inability to build a winning group around Zion now leaves the door open for him to make an exit, as several stars of small-market teams have done in the past. Yes, Zion has not been available for much of his career, but there is no doubt that he has the talent to both electrify a crowd and significantly contribute to a winning team. Under Stan Van Gundy, Williamson averaged 27 points per game on 60% shooting from the field, and it is no secret that the Knicks need someone who can carry the offensive load in order to make that next step as a playoff team. Here’s the tricky part, Zion is still under contract for a few more seasons, so he has very little leverage to force a trade to New York, should that be his preferred destination.
So, how does this deal happen then? Well, after being honored as the Most Improved Player last season, Julius Randle has had a below-average season for the Knicks. Apart from the statistical slump, he no longer seems to have the same gravity on offense and is therefore unable to create more opportunities for his teammate as opposed to last year.
Second, recent events could indicate that the relationship between Randle and the New York fanbase is no longer as rosy as it once was, with him being booed several times in some of his underwhelming performances this year. Randle also responded to fans by giving them a thumbs down during a recent game, so maybe it’s time for the Knicks to move in a different direction. Of course, Randle is a talented player and has the ability to bounce back, but he still has great value that the Pelicans could be interested in. The idea here is that the Knicks elect to sell high on Randle in exchange for Zion and bring a potentially generational talent to the New York Knicks, the first since they signed Carmelo Anthony over a decade ago.
Madison Square Garden will always be filled with fans for as long as the Knicks are playing, but their support is both immense and fleeting. As presently constructed, the Knicks have no chance of making it out of the Eastern Conference, so taking a chance on Zion should not be completely out of the question, even if it means letting go of their current star in Julius Randle. Getting Cam Reddish may have just been the first move in a grand plan to acquire Zion, but for the Knicks front office, the real work has just begun.