The New York Knicks may have won seven of their last ten outings and are stationed in the seventh seed out in the Eastern Conference standings with a record of 25-21, but this is not to say that they can afford to stand pat with their roster as currently constructed as they make their way through the final half of the season.
Perhaps the area on the roster that may most need to be addressed is the pivot position, as starting center Mitchell Robinson was recently diagnosed with a right thumb fracture which ultimately required surgery and, in turn, will hold him out of the lineup for at least three weeks
With this, many are trying to concoct any semblance of a replacement scheme while the 7-footer continues his rehabilitation process, and SNY’s Ian Begley stated on January 19 that trading for veteran big man Serge Ibaka could be an option for the Knicks to consider.
“Three weeks is a big big chunk of time, especially at this point in the season when you’re approaching the trade deadline. I wouldn’t expect the Knicks though to fold up the tent and start to tank for the upcoming draft, this team is not built that way…If the Knicks look elsewhere for options, you know, Serge Ibaka with Milwaukee is certainly an option if you’re looking for a replacement during Robinson’s absence,” Begley said.
Currently in his 14th season in the association, Ibaka has made a name for himself as being a lethal rim protector and a steady frontcourt floor spacing option and boasts impressive career averages of 12.0 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game on 51.3% shooting from the floor and 35.9% shooting from deep.
The big man has oft been found racking up DNPs for the Milwaukee Bucks in 2022-23, and, as of January 20, it has been reported by The Athletic’s Shams Charania that both he and the organization have agreed to find a trade suitor for his services before the February 9th deadline.
Begley seems to believe that the 2019 NBA Champion could be an interesting option for the Knicks to consider pursuing in the wake of Mitchell Robinson’s latest injury and, considering his play style coupled with his extensive postseason experience, there could be some serious merit to this particular idea.
Knicks Could Look to Already Rostered Options
While the most exciting course of action following the recent news on Mitchell Robinson’s injury may be the Knicks thrusting their attention onto the trade market, Begley also noted that the club has several options already under contract that Tom Thibodeau could turn to to fill in the now vacated minutes found at the center position.
“You have Isaiah Hartenstein who you signed in the offseason. You have Jericho Sims who’s played well off the bench. Those two will slide in to replace Mitchell Robinson,” Begley said.
Another option fans could realistically see is the frontcourt tandem of Julius Randle and the recently returned Obi Toppin being rolled out more frequently, which is a configuration that many have been pleading for the Knicks to utilize this season.
Knicks Have What Mavericks Need
The New York Knicks have been a surprisingly cohesive club through the first half of the NBA season, and many have pointed to the play and leadership of free agency signee, Jalen Brunson, as a main catalyst to their successes.
Since he departed from the Dallas Mavericks this past summer, his former team has subsequently found itself on an underwhelming downward trajectory, as the Western Conference runner-ups sport a pedestrian record of 24-22 through 46 games played and have been constantly revolving in and out of the top-8 seeds in the conference standings.
During a January 18 airing of NBA Countdown, when discussing the concept of “what kind of help” Dallas could use ESPN analyst Jalen Rose adamantly stated that, ironically, the same man they let walk away this past July is someone the team could benefit from having within their ranks right now.
“You ready for the elephant in the room? Jalen Brunson…he was right there on their team. They should have did everything they could to keep. I mean, come on now…They had him on their team and now he goes to New York, solidifies their position and he may be an All-Star. All of the guys you’re going to talk about now aren’t playing the way he’s playing. And by the way, did you see how he balled in the playoffs last year versus the Suns? He balled last year. So, again, I like to look at what Denver has done to build around (Nikola Jokic), and the Mavs have time to do that, but man they had the guy in their locker room and they let him get away,” Rose said.
Inking a four-year, $104 million deal with the Knicks during the offseason, Brunson has arguably played beyond his specific pay grade as he is posting All-Star-worthy averages of 22.6 points, 6.3 assists, 3.7 rebounds, and a steal per game.