The NBA Trade Deadline is less than three days away and talks around the league are heating up.
SNY's Ian Begley reported Monday that the Knicks have interest in Warriors point guard D'Angelo Russell, with Knicks players Bobby Portis and Frank Ntilikina potentially of interest to Golden State. The Knicks aren't Russell's only potential suitor, though. The former All-Star has also been linked to the Timberwolves.
Russell joined the Warriors in a sign-and-trade deal with the Nets this past summer, with Russell and the Warriors agreeing to a four-year, $117.3 million contract. He is currently averaging 23.8 points and 6.3 assists in 32 appearances for a Warriors team with the worst record in the NBA.
The Knicks are in the midst of a lost season. At 14-36, New York has the fourth-worst record in the NBA. Manned by Elfrid Payton, Dennis Smith, Jr. and Frank Ntilikina, the point guard position has been a mess to say the least. Though Knicks fans clamor for Ntilikina to play, he still hasn't been able to prove he is more than a solid defensive specialist. Smith has struggled with injuries and ineffective play, with a broken jump shot and a lack of explosion tanking Smith's current value on the trade market.
Although Payton has performed well and has the top net rating of the three point guards, he's not an outside threat or a long-term solution at point guard. The Knicks signed the guard to a two-year contract with a small partial guarantee for the 2020-21 season. Russell easily outshines the current trio of point guards on the Knicks' roster.
Meanwhile, New York is the second-worst offense in the NBA. They have the fourth-worst shooting percentage from beyond the three-point line (33.6). Russell has knocked down 120 of 313 (38.3 percent) threes in 1,028 minutes this season. The Knicks' current trio of point guards have combined to knock down 58 of 201 threes (28.8 percent) in 2,144 minutes. Russell's ability to shoot as a long distance threat would open up the floor and unlock the Knicks' meager offense.
Cramped room in the paint has limited forward Julius Randle and rookie RJ Barrett. Both players have faced defenses that wall up the paint and ignore New York's point guards on the perimeter. Russell's shooting ability would allow him to play off the ball when Barrett or Randle goes to work.
Russell has also grown as a passer throughout his young career. In Brooklyn, he formed a strong partnership with lob threat Jarrett Allen. Last season, Russell assisted on 104 of Allen's 335 made field goals (31 percent). There's potential for Russell to develop a strong pick and roll partnership with second-year center and constant lob threat Mitchell Robinson.
Though Russell's defense is a major question, he provides a skill set on offense that the Knicks lack. Russell has also not yet reached the prime of his career. He's only 23 years old and younger than current Knicks guards Allonzo Trier and Damyean Dotson. With a contract through 2022-23 season, the Knicks would have time to figure out the right pieces to fit around Russell and complement him as a featured star in New York.
A potential future partnership with Russell could also potentially lead other stars to New York. Russell has tight relationships with young stars Karl Anthony-Towns and Devin Booker. Towns has been linked to the Knicks recently. A major reason why the Timberwolves have been closely tied to Russell since last summer is due to Towns and Russell's friendship, and the potential acquisition of Russell would quickly ignite the Towns-to-New York rumor mill.
Dynamic perimeter players have become the norm for quality NBA teams. Whether it's James Harden in Houston or Luka Doncic in Dallas, a versatile player that can operate out of the pick and roll or isolate is a difference-maker.
Though he still needs to grow as a defender and a finisher in the paint, Russell has the potential and talent to power a dormant Knicks franchise back to respectability in the NBA.