The NBA’s Feb. 7 trade deadline is just two weeks away and the bottom-dwelling New York Knicks look to be one of the more intriguing players on the market at the moment.
At 10-35, the Knicks have the second-worst record in the NBA as their chances of picking up a generational talent like Zion Williams with the top pick of the draft continue to increase.
The lone bright spot to what has been a miserable first season under head coach David Fizdale is, in fact, the future.
With a top draft pick likely on the way, the Knicks are also expected to be major players in free agency, which could result in the acquisition of a superstar like Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors. It would make the Knicks Eastern Conference contenders seemingly overnight, but it will be a very different-looking roster when that day comes.
It looks like general manager Scott Perry has made his presence known around the trade deadline as the Knicks have been linked to deals involving multiple players.
Shams Charania of the Athletic reported that the Knicks were one of three teams that called the Dallas Mavericks last year about the availability of second-year point guard Dennis Smith Jr. After taking a backseat to rookie phenom Luka Doncic, Smith may be considered expendable despite a strong showing during his debut season last year.
The Knicks showed interest in Smith during the 2017 draft but opted to pick the still-developing Frank Ntilikina with the No. 8 pick. The Mavericks took Smith just one selection later.
At 20 years old, Ntilikina has shown little indication of improving a raw offensive game over his first year-and-a-half in the NBA. He’s shown promise on the defensive end, but wallowing on a bad team with a logjam in the backcourt that also includes Emmanuel Mudiay and Trey Burke hasn’t helped the Frenchman get consistent playing time.
Teams around the league still see Ntilikina as a promising project, though, as the Daily News’ Stefan Bondy reported that the Knicks are receiving trade calls about the young guard.
He’s not the only one who the Knicks are getting calls about, either.
Mike Vorkunov of the Athletic reported on Wednesday that there has been interest in Tim Hardaway Jr., the Knicks’ leading scorer this season with an average 19.6 points per game. Courtney Lee has also been receiving some secondary looks, as well.
Dealing either of those players could see the Knicks contribute even more funds toward their salary cap this summer. Hardaway is owed over $18 million in each of the next two seasons while Lee is owed $12.7 million next year.
Other notable names that have been linked to deals are Noah Vonleh and Enes Kanter, who has fallen out of favor with head coach David Fizdale.