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Knicks Center Drawing Trade Interest From Title Contender

With just under three weeks to go until the February 9th trade deadline, the New York Knicks are finding their name consistently intertwined within the league’s rumor mill, as they have been pegged as one of the more active teams on the market and roster several players that have generated interest from opposing clubs.

The most recent rumbling pertaining to the franchise came in a January 24 piece by The Ringer, as senior staff writer Kevin O’Connor reported that the title-hopeful Los Angeles Clippers are looking to shake up their roster for the better this trade season and, according to some league executives, big man Isaiah Hartenstein could be a possible target for GM Michael Winger.

“L.A. tried to re-sign Hartenstein last summer, but he went to New York for more money and because he felt he was wanted there. But unfortunately, not all free agent decisions pan out the way you originally envisioned them,” O’Connor wrote.

With the West wide open, the Clippers look prepared to go all-in ahead of the trade deadline. All the latest on @ringer about the Clippers and other teams in the NBA: https://t.co/jracBTs5kU

— Kevin O’Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) January 24, 2023

O’Connor would continue on by discussing how despite New York’s offseason interest in Hartenstein, since his arrival in the Big Apple his specific talents and on-court specialties have not exactly been utilized to their fullest extent within Tom Thibodeau’s scheme and, as a result, a move back to LA could stand to benefit the 24-year-old.

“The Knicks have blatantly misused Hartenstein as a rim roller more than a playmaker, his previous role with the Clippers. He had a 20.5 assist percentage with the Clippers, compared with only 5.1 percent with the Knicks. Tom Thibodeau doesn’t know how to get the best out of him, while Ty Lue has already proved he can. Getting back together might be in everyone’s best interests,” O’Connor wrote.

After putting forth a career-best campaign with the Clippers where he posted averages of 8.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.1 blocks per game on 62.6% shooting from the floor and 46.7% shooting from distance, the 7-footer was coveted by several clubs in free agency this past offseason and, ultimately, inked a two-year, $16 million deal with the Knicks.

As O’Connor insinuated, since his arrival in New York Hartenstein has been rather underwhelming from a production standpoint, as he’s boasting averages of just 4.9 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. However, in his eyes, perhaps a move back to Los Angeles could help get his level of play back to what it was last season.

Trading Hartenstein Could Benefit Knicks

Trading Isaiah Hartenstein back to Los Angeles could prove to be far more than just a move to help the Clippers, as Bleacher Report writer Mo Dakhil recently made the case that moving on from the big man could help create more diversity and open the door for experimentation within the Knicks’ rotation.

“The trade would make them thin at center, but the Knicks should look to spread his minutes around. Give more minutes to Jericho Sims, whose per-36 numbers are comparable to Hartenstein’s. Experiment with playing Obi Toppin and Julius Randle. Playing small would not be a bad idea for New York,” Dakhil wrote.

JERICHO SIMS CLEANING UP pic.twitter.com/SdSMbiUBvg

— KNICKS ON MSG (@KnicksMSGN) January 21, 2023

Playing the supremely athletic Jericho Sims more often is something fans have been pleading for seemingly all season.

Having certainly passed the eye test when given an increased role during his second season in New York, the 24-year-old finds himself averaging 8.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks on an astonishing 100% shooting from the floor when inserted into the starting lineup for the Knicks in 2022-23.

As for the potential uptick in lineups consisting of both Randle and Toppin together, such a move would help the latter come across more playing time–something he has struggled to do since entering the league back in 2020–, and, should the controversial tandem prove to be successful, in theory it could lessen the talks of him being a realistic trade asset for the Knicks this season.

Knicks Guard ‘Could be Dealt’ at Deadline

Though names like Evan Fournier and Cam Reddish may be the ones most often mentioned as being players the Knicks are most likely to look into offloading at or around February’s deadline, Brett Siegel of FanNation’s Fastbreak tabbed third-year guard Immanuel Quickley as the one player he believes New York could opt to deal away this season.

“Evan Fournier, Cam Reddish and Derrick Rose will all be in play in trade discussions ahead of the deadline for this team and Immanuel Quickley remains this teams best trade asset, especially given that he can hold a sixth-man-like role for many teams in this league.

“Attaching Quickley in a deal with a player like Fournier or Rose could immediately free up enough cap space for New York to go out and make a big addition, yet league sources have told Fastbreak that there is a push within the Knicks’ front-office to keep the young guard past the trade deadline,” Siegel wrote.

How ya feelin’ @IQ_GodSon 🕺🏾👀 pic.twitter.com/GsQahErDnv

— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) January 19, 2023

Despite having been the subject of trade rumors on numerous occasions throughout the year, over the last month Quickley has been absolutely phenomenal for the Knicks, as he’s posted stellar per-game averages of 17.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 3.4 assists on 47.9% shooting from the floor and 37.0% shooting from deep which, as a result, has tapered down the front office’s reported willingness to move him as noted in the aforementioned piece.

However, even with this rumored change of heart, Siegel suggests in his article that, should they be looking to acquire a top-notch difference-maker via trade, including him in an outbound trade package could make such a transaction far more likely.

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