Could a Zach LaVine trade make sense?

Dec 14, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) drives to the basket against Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine (8) during the second half at United Center.

SNY’s Ian Begley will be responding to and breaking down answers to Knicks questions from readers. Here’s the latest…

@Shiz86: Zach LaVine solves a lot of problems offensively for the Knicks, fits the age window, and potentially allows them to keep their core (Brunson, Randle, RJ). Shouldn’t this be the no-brainer move?

One of the big questions of the offseason, Shiz. One thing: I don’t think the Knicks can acquire LaVine without giving up RJ Barrett or Julius Randle. I would assume that one of those two players would have to be in any deal. When the Knicks and Bulls talked casually about a potential deal during the season, (several weeks before the trade deadline), I was told that some with Chicago had interest in Immanuel Quickley. That was months ago. Both teams may have changed their thinking at this point. Certainly, Quickley’s value is much higher now than it was then (something ESPN Front Office Insider Bobby Marks touches on in this article).

Derrick Rose was also among the players who were discussed as part of trade packages in those casual conversations between the Knicks and Bulls, per people familiar with the matter. The Knicks are likely to decline their team option on Rose for 2023-24.

If they decline the option, Rose – and his salary – wouldn’t be part of any big trade. But this is the most important point on any LaVine-to-New York conjecture: as it relates to LaVine, when reached a Bulls spokesperson said the idea that Chicago had any discussions involving LaVine is “100 percent false.”

So, Shiz, the points you make about LaVine fitting the Knicks’ age window and his offensive profile make a lot of sense. But based on what was said above, it doesn’t seem lie LaVine will be available. 

@BubbJordan: What type of contract extension do you think Knicks will want Quickley to sign for? And from your interactions with Quickley, what type of monetary compensation do you think he would demand? And what contract would you give to Immanuel Quickley?

I don’t have a ton of insight on the numbers the Knicks would offer and the numbers Quickley’s side would seek. Based on my interactions with him, I’d say that the Knicks should do what they need to do to keep Quickley on the roster for as long as they can. We all know what he did on the floor in the regular season. I believe that he will have success in the playoffs as he gets more postseason reps. I wouldn’t claim to have a deep understanding of who Quickley is as a person. But based on his interactions with us since he came to the NBA, he strikes me as the kind of person you bet on if you’re an NBA team. He seems to have the kind of mentality that allows players to reach their maximum potential over time. And he seems like a great teammate.

With all of that said, I think any teams who talk to the Knicks about a high-profile trade will demand Quickley in a return. So the Knicks may have several decisions to make around Quickley in the offseason.

Quick Hitters:

@Kivi015: Do you think they try to trade into the 1st round? 

I can’t see it. They punted on the 2022 NBA Draft and they don’t have a clear path for a rookie to enter the rotation at this point. So I would be surprised if they made a trade for the sole purpose of acquiring a 2023 first-rounder.

@JeremyK59349897: Ian if they are terrible next year how many more years of protections does this pick have? 

Jeremy, the pick is top-10 protected in 2024 and top-10 protected in 2025. If it doesn’t convey in 2025, the Knicks get Dallas‘ 2025 second-round pick.

@StacyPatton89: Philosophically, do you know where the Knicks stand on the importance of game reps/mins for player development? I wonder if a lack of available minutes influences how they allot draft picks. Always fascinating to hear both sides of that debate.

Tom Thibodeau always says that players learn best from game reps. I don’t know if that’s an organization-wide philosophy. But Thibodeau has said that pretty consistently when he’s asked about the topic. Obviously, some of his rotation decisions early in his Knick tenure suggested that the club didn’t prioritize getting minutes for their young players. But it’s hard to make that same argument at this point. The Knicks played several young players in their rotation in the second half of last season and for the bulk of the 2022-23 season. Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, Quickley and Quentin Grimes have all benefited from that playing time, in my opinion.

I’m not sure how this all impacts their thoughts on the draft. In general, I would assume they don’t have a strong desire to trade into the 2023 first-round because they don’t have a clear rotation spot for a younger player.

@BubbJordan: How crazy do you expect the NBA offseason to be? And how would the rest of the NBA conduct their business affect Knicks’ offseason plans in any way? Do you think Knicks will get their business done before craziness of the offseason starts or after all the moves are done or in between?

I’ll rely on ESPN’s Bobby Marks for the answer to this one.

“I think there’s going to be a lot of movement across the league. With the new CBA coming in, you basically have a one-year grace period for everything,” Marks said in this article. “Next offseason is going to be really hard to do deals for some of these higher-spending teams…. I think a lot of teams will be active either trying to clean up their books or trying to get draft picks [this offseason].”

I think the Knicks will make their moves during the busy season (week leading up to the draft and the first week of free agency). And other teams’ decisions will certainly impact how NYK does business. If a team decides to move off of one of its top players, the Knicks will have the assets to make a strong offer for that player. So other teams’ approach will certainly impact New York’s offseason.

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