With the NBA trade deadline a few days away, many teams are pondering whether or not they should buy or sell including the Knicks.
As of now, the Knicks sit 10th in the East at 22-28 on the season. Many teams are in the same spot as they could make trades to give themselves a playoff push, or focus on rebuilding next season.
So what should the Knicks do?
"They exceeded expectations based on a home-heavy schedule to start the season and did a nice job, but I never thought they were a playoff team," one NBA executive told The Post's Fred Kerber. "Is the goal to try to create cap space for this summer or are you trying to get a draft pick back also? That's hard because there's not many teams willing to trade picks."
Though this NBA executive wants the Knicks to sell, another doesn't believe New York should give up that easily on their season.
"Depending on the cost, I would try to make the playoffs," the executive said. "Obviously keep the core assets [Kristaps Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Frank Ntilikina] together and make a move to get in the playoffs. But I would not under any circumstance trade the first-round pick."
Most of the executives agree on giving Ntilikina more minutes after the All-Star break, which could open the door to trade veteran PG Jarrett Jack especially with the emergence of Trey Burke.
"I thought this year was all about trying to get to see if the rookie could be a starting-quality point guard down the road...They should [play him 30 minutes] at least post-All-Star," an Eastern Conference executive stated. "If you're not going to make the playoffs, yeah, that should be the direction."
As for who the Knicks should shop if they see that as the right direction would be Jack and Kyle O'Quinn, according to one scout.
"There are two guys on their team that are available that people would want: Jack and O'Quinn," the scout said. "If they deal O'Quinn, that gives [Willy} Hernangomez an opportunity. If they deal Jack, you've still got Frank and Trey, two young guys, to play the point."
Staying young has been the montra for team president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry during the Knicks' rebuilding process. That would mean 32-year-old Courtney Lee could be a trade asset, even though he is posting career numbers this season.
"Courtney Lee has had a helluva year, a terrific year. But is he the future? By the time the Knicks are good, he's not going to be anything for them," one official said.
The biggest contract the Knicks want to get off the books is surely Joakim Noah, who has two years left on his four-year, $72 million deal. However, there was a resounding statement from all those surveyed that Noah won't be leaving for another team.
The only option in the executives' minds are to offer a buyout.
"Offer him a buyout. You've got to pay him, so see if you can pay him less," one exec said. "There's not a team in the league that's going to take on that contract with his health issues and where he is in his career. To take on his contract, you'd have to give the No. 1 pick every other year for three years."
If the Knicks decide to trade one or some of their assets before Feb. 8, they could see a return in draft picks. The only player that would potentially yield a first-rounder would be Lee in their eyes based off his production this season. Other than him, second-rounders are the most likely outcomes.
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It feels like the Knicks should be more than four games out of the playoffs the way their season has slipped away. While they are still alive to make it, it sure doesn't feel like it.
The Knicks should 100 percent be sellers with the trade deadline 10 days away. They should be listening to offers for any player outside Kristaps Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Enes Kanter. I don't think Frank Ntilikina is untouchable if it means you're going to get a star player in return in a package. I don't think Willy Hernangomez is untouchable, either.
If the Knicks are going to make deals, they have got to get something legitimate in return -- there's no reason for the Knicks to trade for expiring contracts or just cash. If they are going to trade Kyle O'Quinn, it needs to get them at least a draft pick. This team should continue building for the future.
If they can trade Jarrett Jack, whose presence on the roster at this juncture is pointless, Knicks fans would be ecstatic because it would mean more Ntilikina and Trey Burke. Meanwhile, Courtney Lee is the one name everyone points at. He's a guy who essentially gets traded every two seasons, and the Knicks should be all ears on Lee. He's having a very nice year and his contract isn't terrible. The Knicks have got to get good value for him, though. Dumping guys for noting who can help you the next few years would just make it worse for the Knicks.