The New York Knicks are currently riding high considering how low the bar has been set over the last 20 years. They made the playoffs for the first time in eight years; power forward Julius Randle was named an All-Star, and they own a plethora of draft picks that can help them continue to build out the roster. For everything going right in New York, the franchise hasn’t had a good relationship with patience. It could already be running thin with the growing reality that Portland Blazers superstar Damian Lilliard might be on the trade block. While Lillard would bring a certain star level to the Knicks they haven’t had since a prime Carmelo Anthony, the front office should be cautious when entertaining a deal for the All-Pro Lillard.
Why the New York Knicks Should Second-Guess a Damian Lillard Trade
The Knicks have been down this road before. There was Anthony; before him, Stephon Marbury and Antonio McDyess — star players who the Knicks mortgaged a lot of value for ultimately subpar to downright awful results. So what will be different this time around with Lillard?
First and foremost, Lillard is one of the most unstoppable forces in all of the NBA. The nine-year veteran is impossible to contain and led a decent supporting cast in Portland to an impressive 42-30 record; All while averaging 28.8 points, 7.5 assists, and 4.2 rebounds per game. Lillard is the man, but what will be different if he comes to a Knicks team that will have to throw an abundance of assets into a trade? Ultimately a Knicks trade would likely leave them with Lillard, Randle, and role players. There has to be great concern around how much does that push the needle forward?
Perhaps the most significant question mark when deciding on making a deal for Lillard for the Knicks should be his age. Lillard is 31 years old, and it’s not outrageous to question just how long the six-time all-star has left as an elite-level talent. It wasn’t that long ago when Anthony was a New York Knick as a 31 year old averaging nearly 22 points and eight rebounds per game. By 33, however, Anthony’s game would reach a tipping point with his points, rebounds, and field goal percentage all hitting sharp declines. The Knicks management must ask themselves can we build a championship roster around Lillard within a year of acquiring him? The pipe dream of a 6’2 point guard thriving in his mid to late 30s isn’t all that likely.
While there are strong arguments to make on both sides of the table, the Knicks will be hard-pressed not to do a deal should Portland be willing to move Lillard. There’s no real pulse on the Knicks thinking here, but if ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith’s thinking aligns with the Knicks front office, the deal will be as good as done.
“[I’d] give them anything they wanted,” Smith said. “I would give them [RJ] Barrett, I would give them Randle, I would give them Obi Toppin, I would give them Mitchell Robinson, I would give them Immanuel Quickley, I would give them not one, not two, but three first-round picks. I would give the Portland Trail Blazers all that and a bag of chips just to get Damian Lillard.”
Lillard is one of the game’s great point guards, but the Knicks should proceed with caution when mortgaging the future for a star, or they’ll risk going down an all too familiar rabbit hole.
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