The NBA trade deadline is less than a month away and disgruntled Philadelphia 76ers point guard Ben Simmons will be the prized jewel on the market. The three-time All-Star is a special talent that could make a massive difference for whatever team he lands with. The 2021-22 Knicks are in need of a paradigm shift as they sit tied for 10th in the Eastern Conference
With that in mind, here are three reasons why the Knickerbockers should consider bringing in the 25-year-old Aussie.
Related: Ideal Ben Simmons trade scenarios
Something needs change for the New York Knicks
Last season, the Knicks were one of the best stories in the NBA. They went from a team predicted to win 26 games to one that finished 10 games over .500 and with the fourth seed in the playoffs. They were well ahead of schedule in their rebuild and rising fast. They added established stars Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier to improve their ball-handling and scoring weaknesses and brought back many of their key free agents.
However, at the midway point of this season, they are a .500 team and sitting just outside the playoff picture. And that is a bad look in 2022 when being outside the playoff picture means being outside the top 10 of a 15-team conference. Unfortunately, the major additions have hurt more than helped. Especially on defense.
- Ben Simmons contract: $33 million (2021-’22), $35.45 million (2022-’23), $37.9 million (2023-’23) and $40.34 million (2024-’25)
Obviously, the team doesn’t need to blow things up because there are key pieces there like RJ Barrett and Julius Randle. But either may be better served as a duo with a perennial All-Star like Simmons then sticking with the status quo.
Julius Randle has regressed, leading to Ben Simmons rumors
The Knicks’ decision to re-sign Randle to a $117 million four-year deal in the offseason made sense. Especially since it came at a discount. He’s a 27-years-old talented and versatile big man, and he played like an MVP for a franchise that needed a superstar to lean on. Unfortunately, the Texas native had a career year at the most beneficial time for him and has regressed since.
Randle’s points, assists, free throw percentage, and 3-point reliability are all down in 2021-’22. The decline in his three-point game is most disappointing because his improvement there made him a top-15 talent and worth the big money. Now, he is back to being a borderline All-Star and New York needs more.
Simmons would be that. Maybe not offensively, but he is the type of player that can make others better while being a badly needed upgrade in perimeter defense. With Barrett taking another step forward as a scoring leader in recent weeks, packaging Randle in a deal to have a young stud backcourt of Simmons and Barrett could be a deadly combo in NYC for years to come.
Related: Updated NBA power rankings
Ben Simmons would give the Knicks a point guard to win in the NBA
The last time the Knicks had a reliable point guard was Stephon Marbury in the early 2000s. Although that was disastrous back then, the game has completely changed since and a guy like Marbury would likely be great in today’s NBA. With Derrick Rose sidelined for several more weeks after ankle surgery, the Knicks’ situation at point guard is a mess.
The aging and oft-injured Walker has not been the player the team needed, and Alec Burks and Immanuel Quickly are just solid wing players, not point guards. Outside of his lack of long-range shooting, Simmons is an elite point guard in the league and the two-time all-NBA defensive player would be a perfect fit in Thibodeau’s defensive scheme.
Without a doubt, Simmons won’t come cheap, but he could be the perfect building block that checks off some important needs at point guard, on offense, and most importantly on defense. He is an intriguing new-age star to pair with the young core the team already has.