The New York Knicks could be looking for a slam dunk trade that at least cements their spot in the Eastern Conference top 6.
Granted, Zach LaVine has evolved beyond the mere identity of the dunk contest champion that perhaps defined his early days in Minnesota. In recent seasons, particularly as a star attraction with the Chicago Bulls, LaVine has developed into a reliable scoring option, a skill that has been rewarded with back-to-back All-Star nominations. In 40 games this season, LaVine has averaged 23.9 points but was ruled a potential bait at the close as the Bulls (21-24) were mired in mediocrity after making their first playoff appearance since 2017 last year.
Viewing the Knicks as a potential new home for LaVine, staffers at the NBA Analysis Network have proposed a deal that would see New York send Evan Fournier, Isaiah Hartenstein, Cam Reddish and two of their own first-round picks to Chicago for his services. The hypothetical deal also includes a pick swap during the 2026 campaign.
Of the veterans involved, only Hartenstein deserves any sort of regular playing time with the Knicks. Fournier is back in exile after briefly appearing during a string of injuries to the likes of RJ Barrett and Jalen Brunson, while Reddish has not played since December 3 despite good health and some one-sided games. However, any deal Hartenstein is involved in will likely be delayed by Mitchell Robinson’s injury as the Knicks’ starting center is unlikely to return before the Feb. 10 trade deadline.
Adding a talent like LaVine would undoubtedly give the Knicks a little boost, and giving away two stagnant veterans with part of their cabinet draft is a fair price to pay. However, Chicago may not want to close a deal until they can get some form of inside support, and Robinson’s injury (which is said to be keeping him out for at least three weeks) doesn’t put them in a position to fix the low post depth they have (It Hartenstein and Jericho Sims are expected to step up with Robinson).
The Bulls, currently holders of the fourth and final Play-In tournament spot, currently rank 24th in rebounds per game. As sweet as it would be to host a Derrick Rose reunion in the Windy City, the Bulls would probably be looking for some sort of practicality rather than nostalgia. Adding to her predicament is the fact that her regularly scheduled draft pick, currently 10th best by lottery odds, goes to Orlando if he doesn’t finish in the top four.
Meanwhile, as designed, the Knicks hit the road for the weekend, beginning with a Friday visit to Atlanta (7:30 p.m. ET, MSG).
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags
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