After notching back-to-back wins to close out their Western Conference road swing, the New York Knicks look to be back on track in their quest to enter postseason play with a favorable seed. As of this writing, the team is a game and a half ahead of the No. 6 Brooklyn Nets and within 2.5 games of the fourth-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers in the East standings.
Still, it’s difficult to envision Julius Randle and Co. seriously challenging the Milwaukee Bucks or even the Boston Celtics — some recent victories notwithstanding — during the later playoff rounds. Josh Hart may be the perfect complementary piece, but he’s not that much of a difference-maker.
For the Knicks’ part, the recognition that they need more may just be the reason why there was Zach LaVine chatter in the hours ahead of the NBA trade deadline.
Ultimately, those talks between the Knicks and Chicago Bulls didn’t go anywhere. But that’s not to say that there won’t be another opportunity to snag another star in the not-so-distant future. To that end, Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes just floated a deal sending one of the Association’s elite scorers to NYC.
B/R: Knicks Could Acquire Bradley Beal in Trade With ‘Hopeless’ Wizards
On Friday, Hughes put together some trade ideas for the league’s “most hopeless” teams — one of which was the Washington Wizards. And in an effort to get the DC crew out of their current rut and into rebuilding mode, the hoops scribe suggested they blow it up by dealing three-time All-Star Bradley Beal to the Knicks.
Here’s the trade that was proposed:
Washington Wizards receive RJ Barrett, Evan Fournier, 2024 first-round pick (unprotected), 2025 first-round pick (via MIL), 2026 first-round pick (top-eight protected)
New York Knicks receive Bradley Beal
While Hughes confessed that this was primarily being approached from the Wizards’ side of the equation, a scenario was posited where Knicks president Leon Rose goes all-in on Beal, too:
“For the New York Knicks to go for something like this, they’d have to be strongly convinced of their one-player-away status as contenders. Considering their run during the second half of this season, and depending on how the playoffs shake out, they might not be far from believing that,” Hughes wrote.
Beal, who’s still in his prime at 29, has appeared in 47 games for the Wiz this season, averaging 23.4 points, 5.5 assists and 3.8 rebounds per contest. His effective field-goal percentage of 55.9 is the second-best mark of his 11-year career.
The Potential Downside of a Beal Deal for the Knicks
While a player of Beal’s ilk could potentially transform the Knicks’ offense in an incredible way, bringing him on board wouldn’t be a clear-cut, home run shot.
For starters, a Beal-Jalen Brunson pairing could be problematic.
There are a handful of examples of teams putting points on the board on a yearly basis with a pair of talented, yet diminutive guards leading the charge — think Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum or Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley — but those teams didn’t win titles. And, in just about every case, a change in direction was required.
The biggest issues with a size-challenged backcourt come on the defensive end, where there are regular struggles against bigger/longer players. And neither Beal nor Brunson are known for their defensive prowess as individuals; it’s hard to see them faring any better together.
Secondly, Beal is currently on a five-year deal worth an unfathomable $251 million. If you bring him in; that’s it. This is your core. If he, Randle and Brunson aren’t enough, you’re stuck in luxury tax hell with little ability to upgrade the roster around them.
Finally, Beal hasn’t played more than 60 games in a season since the 2018-19 campaign, so there are durability questions there as well.