When NBA rumors surfaced that Damian Lillard may request a trade this offseason, it was the moment the New York Knicks were waiting for. Desperate for a superstar in Madison Square Garden, Lillard’s rift with the Trail Blazers is music to New York’s ears.
Lillard, a six-time All-Star, would instantly make the Knicks a top contender in the Eastern Conference. With outstanding coaching and a strong core, New York would be in the perfect position to surround him with talent. Better yet, they could also put together the caliber of trade package it might cost to land him.
But the 30-year-old is extremely loyal and hasn’t officially requested a trade. If he gives the Trail Blazers time to resolve the issues and the organization proves it can make him happy, that trade demand will never come.
While they are hoping for the best, the Knicks’ front office is preparing trade targets in the vent Lillard isn’t moved.
According to Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News the Knicks are monitoring three guards if they can’t land Lillard or Bradley Beal. Specifically, New York is eyeing Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Collin Sexton, Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Charlotte Hornets guard Terry Rozier.
Sexton is certainly an appealing target. The Cavaliers are shopping him this offseason, preferring to sign Jarrett Allen to a max extension over their top guard. While there are some concerns regarding the 22-year-old, he is very productive.
- Collin Sexton stats: 24.3 ppg, 4.4 apg, 37.1% shooter from beyond the arc
A trade to the Knicks would certainly interest Sexton, who would recognize an opportunity to join an NBA contender and welcome the chance to play at Madison Square Garden.
Gilgeous-Alexander might be the Knicks’ dream target, but it seems unlikely the Thunder trade him in the near future. He turns 23 on July 12 and Oklahoma City doesn’t need more first-round picks. So, barring something unexpected, he might be taken off the Knicks’ radar.
Rozier is entering the final year of his deal owed $17.905 million next season. The 27-year-old started 69 games for the Hornets this past season, averaging a career-best 30.4 ppg and averaging 3.2 3-pointers made per contest. He would provide New York the perimeter shooting it needs and should be relatively affordable.
If the Knicks strike out on all of their trade options, expect them to focus on Lonzo Ball and Kyle Lowry in free agency.