As we've talked about here several times, Phil Jackson is actively working the phones hoping to find a situation that upgrades the Knicks' roster from a talent perspective without giving away too many assets in return.
Several teams have emerged as potential trade matches
Let's rewind two seasons ago to when Wes Matthews was one of the most coveted free agents in the league before a devastating Achilles injury abruptly ended his season. Sources within the Knicks organization informed me that prior to the injury the Knicks were preparing to put all their resources behind acquiring Matthews. Instead, they chose to sign Robin Lopez with a large part of their cap space and settled on Arron Afflalo to handle the shooting guard position.
Matthews went on to sign a four-year $57 million deal with the Dallas Mavericks and news out of the Lone Star state is that owner Mark CubanAnother player on their roster who is available is former Golden State Warriors center Andrew Bogut.
Let's start with Matthews.
Any deal would have to start with Courtney Lee, who has been pretty solid overall offensively (115 O-Rating per basketball-reference.com) and has been outstanding shooting the ball in leading the NBA in three-point percentage at 47 percent.
Lee's defense has been a bit of a disappointment (114 Def Rating), which sums up what the Knicks have been as a defensive group on the year. Matthews is just a bit of an upgrade defensively (111 D-Rating) and he's been far less impactful offensively, shooting just 38 percent from the field and 37 percent from three. Because of salaries, there could be a match, but there's no reason to engage in any trade talks with Dallas if the conversations start with Lee.
Bogut is intriguing, but there doesn't seem to be a trade fit, unless you think he's an upgrade over what the Knicks have -- starting with Joakim Noah and Kyle O'Quinn. It's doubtful that Dallas would take back Noah, so a deal is unlikely unless a third team gets involved.
Bogut and Noah would be an intriguing combination as Bogut adds a defensive element up front that the Knicks simply don't have much of. We've seen the Knicks get bullied when Noah and Kristaps Porzingis are pitted against the likes of Oklahoma City and most recently against the Pacers in Indiana the other night when the Pacers went big with Al Jefferson and Kevin Seraphin.
While Bogut struggles when pulled away from the basket to the perimeter -- opponents are shooting 50 percent from three, a +12 percent increase compared to their normal average -- Bogut is one of the game's best bigs in defending the paint. In 21 games this year, Bogut is holding opposing centers to -6.5 percent below their shooting percentage average from two-point range and -5.8 percent lower within six feet from the basket.
The Knicks are 23rd in the NBA in points allowed in the paint (45.1), while Bogut has anchored Dallas to the NBA's third best ranking in points in the paint at just 38.1. The Knicks are 19th in the NBA in points allowed from two-point range (59.2) compared to Dallas, who is allowing just 52.2 points inside the arc, which is the second-best mark in the league.
As the Knicks look to improve their defensive weaknesses, they will continue to gauge the market, and Bogut could be a cheap, effective piece worth taking a deeper look at. He'd immediately upgrade the interior defense and pair well with Porzingis to help stabilize the front court, thus allowing the Knicks to force teams to go small and let Porzingis get more time at the center spot.