The New York Knicks have been struggling to meet expectations this season. Their offseason acquisitions haven’t panned out the way they had hoped, and it’s been costly.
New York currently sits at 20-21, good for 11th in the Eastern Conference. That means, if the playoffs were to start today, the Knicks would not be a playoff team, or even in the play-in.
There are pathways to improvement for New York, it just depends on what their priority is. If they want to win now, though, RJ Barrett is by far the best asset they have on the roster.
What are some NBA trades the Knicks could pursue if they wanted to trade RJ Barrett? Which of said NBA trades would be the best for both the Knicks and the team they would be trading with?
NBA Trades: 3 blockbuster RJ Barrett trades to help the Knicks – Damian Lillard
Knicks receive: Damian Lillard
Trail Blazers receive: RJ Barrett, Evan Fournier, Obi Toppin, Quentin Grimes, 2023 First-Round Pick, 2025 First-Round Pick, 2027 First-Round Pick
If the Portland Trail Blazers ever did decide to trade Damian Lillard, the New York Knicks should pounce at the opportunity. Of all the NBA trades out there, this one would shock the world.
New York would get the star point guard they have been looking for for years now. This would pair Damian Lillard with Julius Randle, and they would then have to compile a team to put around them.
Meanwhile, the Trail Blazers would be hitting the rest button in a big way. They could build around RJ Barrett and move Evan Fournier to a third team if they wish.
NBA trades like this one would only happen if the Trail Blazers decide to rebuild, but if the opportunity comes up and the Knicks want to prioritize winning now, this is a deal they should pursue.
Knicks receive: Brandon Ingram, Jonas Valanciunas
Pelicans receive: RJ Barrett, Evan Fournier, Mitchell Robinson, Quentin Grimes, Kevin Knox II, 2024 First-Round Pick, 2026 First-Round Pick, 2022 Second-Round Pick
Okay, this would be a bit crazy. The New Orleans Pelicans have been awful this season, so why not consider blowing it up and planning for the future instead?
RJ Barrett would be sent to New Orleans where he would play with his college teammate Zion Williamson. The two would be the new pillars of the franchise, growing and building together.
The Pelicans would also get a quality rotation player in Evan Fournier, as well as three young pieces to develop in Mitchell Robinson, Quentin Grimes, and Kevin Knox II.
This would reset the franchise a bit, but with how they’ve played this year, that could be just what they need. On the flip side, the Knicks would take a huge jump in terms of talent.
They would be adding an All-Star in Brandon Ingram, as well as a near All-Star-caliber center in Jonas Valanciunas. Their roster would be immediately improved.
A starting lineup of Kemba Walker, Alec Burks, Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, and Jonas Valanciunas would be a playoff-caliber starting five.
They would need to reformulate the roster around that a bit, but that’s something that could be handled with other trades or in the offseason if it came to that.
Overall, losing Barrett would hurt, but getting Ingram and Valanciunas would definitely raise the ceiling of the Knicks. If they want to win right now, they should look into this deal.
NBA Trades: 3 blockbuster RJ Barrett trades to help the Knicks – Domantas Sabonis
Knicks receive: Domantas Sabonis, Caris LeVert
Pacers receive: RJ Barrett, Alec Burks, Obi Toppin, Kevin Knox II, 2025 First-Round Pick, 2027 First-Round Pick
According to NBA rumors, the Indiana Pacers are open for business. This deal would see them ship off two of the players rumored to be available in one trade package.
The Knicks would get two starting-caliber NBA players, including a two-time All-Star in Domantas Sabonis. Meanwhile, Caris LeVert could take RJ Barrett’s place in the starting lineup.
New York’s starting five would potentially look like Kemba Walker, Evan Fournier, Caris LeVert, Julius Randle, and Domantas Sabonis. Sabonis is easily big enough and a good enough rebounder to run the five.
Losing Barrett’s defense might be a killer, but in terms of pure talent, this deal makes the Knicks better. It would give them an All-Star frontcourt to roll out every night.
As for the Pacers, they’d be getting three young players to help spark a rebuild, with Barret being by far the best of the bunch. They could build around him and Chris Duarte moving forward.
Obi Toppin would be a nice player for them to grab, too, as they could give him more opportunities than he currently gets in New York. Kevin Knox II would also get the chance to revive his career in Indiana.
This deal would make the Knicks better right now and help the Pacers prepare for the future. Those are the right directions for each of these teams to go in.