Earlier today, ESPN reported that the Charlotte Hornets (formerly known as the Bobcats, and formerly formerly known as the Hornets) are shopping star PG Kemba Walker to teams around the league. Specifically, they have expressed interest in making this potential move with the New York Knicks. The Knicks have hovered around .500 all season long and a trade for a former-all-star could be what pushes them into the playoff race.
Personally, as a Knicks fan, I think this would be a fantastic scenario IF, and only IF, they don’t have to give up 2017 1st-round pick Frank Ntilikina. I think that if they were able to acquire Kemba, this would allow Ntilikina to really excel, even though him and Walker play the same position. Having both on the floor simultaneously would really open up the offense. Walker’s outrageous scoring abilities would drag teams away from focusing their entire defense on Kristaps Porzingis. This would really let Ntilikina focus on *sigh* his only offensive strength, (At the moment! He’s still 19!) which is passing. Defensively, is where the two young guards could really shine together. Frank Ntilikina is a great young perimeter defender. During the beginning of the season, the young Frenchman was top 10 among guards in steals per game. While sure, he has had ups and downs throughout the season, he did just get 7 boards, 2 blocks, and a steal in last Monday’s match-up with Brooklyn. Which are great numbers considering he only played 29 minutes (he is averaging only 20 mins per game). Now, even though Kemba is not known as a defender, he has the speed to keep up with the faster guards in the league. The addition of Walker would allow him and Frank to defend the guard best suited to their abilities, creating better match-ups for both of them.
So my first reaction to the trade rumors were the same as anybody who’s ever dreamt of being a GM just because they play franchise mode in 2K, which was to hop on the handy-dandy ESPN Trade Machine. Below are some hypothetical trade situations I cooked up, and the Trade Machine said were possible. Take a look y’all:
Situation 1: My personal favoriteThis situation would make the most sense to me personally. Courtney Lee is a consistent 3 & D shooting guard who has a reasonable contract. Additionally, Michael Beasley is having an incredible bounce-back season for the Knickerbockers and has served as a great role player. However, the trade machine doesn’t allow you to add draft picks into these scenarios, so if this situation were to happen, the Knicks would most likely throw in a future 1st rounder or multiple 2nd round selections.
Situation 2: Low risk, high reward, but for both sidesLance Thomas has started on-and-off this season and last season. He’s been a consistent defender who can contribute offensively when his number gets called. But with the resurgence of Michael Beasley, New York just doesn’t seem to need his services for the foreseeable future. The other involved Knick has had a shockingly disappointing season. Willie Hernangomez, after being named to the NBA All-Rookie 1st-Team last year, has sat the bench, and recently been named a healthy scratch night-in and night-out. It’s been quite a surprise to fans all season long. Before acquiring Enes Kanter from OKC, many thought this season would revolve around the big-man play of Hernangomez and Porzingis. Big Willie’s name will most likely be circling the rumor mill once the trade deadline approaches, but if a Kemba deal is discussed, I wouldn’t be shocked if he is involved. This trade is another that I could see involving a draft pick or two.
Situation 3: The one where we give up the rookie.As I’ve stated above, my personal preference would be to keep the 19-year old whose potential has been described as becoming “a 6’5 Rajon Rondo”. But, of course the Hornets will most likely want to replace their franchise player with a very young asset, especially one who plays the same position and could fill the role immediately. This trade only involves Frank “The Tank” Kaminsky and Lance Thomas for salary cap reasons. The biggest debate with this trade is; if the Knicks make this move, are they still in the rebuilding process? They would have two star players in Walker and Porzingis, should they try and go into “win now mode”? Or would they still be a piece or two away? Only time can tell I guess…
Situation 4: Why you shouldn’t actually rely on the trade machine.To be honest, I just tried to see what the most ridiculous scenario I could get the trade machine to try to approve and this is what I came up with. The trade machine is mostly salary cap based, not logic based, so I could just be a stupid, biased Knicks fanboy and all those trades above are super unlikely. Oh well, we shall see. Hopefully a deal gets done. But I guess if Cleveland really is gonna go and blow everything up, this is one way they could do it… SHEESH!