'A few' Knicks players reportedly prefer to be traded; Marcus Morris, Dennis Smith Jr. among names to watch

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'A few' Knicks players reportedly prefer to be traded; Marcus Morris, Dennis Smith Jr. among names to watch

Post by admin » Sat Dec 28, 2019 7:55 am

The New York Knicks did not expect their season to go like this. Trace back to the end of last season, and they fully believed they were going to sign Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. They were hopeful they would land the No. 1 pick, where they would take Zion Williamson. Never mind that three of those guys are currently injured, and two of them haven't played a single game this season.

The Knicks had a dream!

But that dream came crashing up against reality, and now the Knicks are 8-24 with zero stars, one fired coach and -- per SNY's Ian Begley -- 'a few' players who have said privately they prefer to be traded ahead of the February 6th deadline.

Begley stated that it's not clear whether these players have made a formal trade request, but in truth, they may not need to. The Knicks, with their season going nowhere and all eyes on 2021 free agency, will likely be looking to deal one or more of their many trade-friendly contracts on their own volition. Here are five players that could be on the move.

This is the player most ready to help a contender. Morris is on a $15 million expiring contract, so he doesn't clog your books beyond this season and he's shooting 46.1 percent from 3-point range, which ranks No. 4 in the league and No. 1 among players attempting at least 3.5 3s per game. A shooter who can create his own one-on-one offense is highly valuable in the playoffs, where Morris has plenty of experience. I would be surprised if Morris isn't moved.

Another shooter who could really help a contender. The Lakers and Sixers could use his floor spacing in a major way and he would fit perfectly in their respective systems. Ellington is making $8 million this season and has the same number for next season, but the 2020-21 contract is non-guaranteed, so he is effectively an expiring deal unless a team chooses to keep him in the summer. Ellington has been out for the last 10 games with an Achilles tweak but is expected back soon.

He might want out, but that doesn't mean anyone will want him. Portis remains a talented big who can have a night here and there where he looks like an All-Star -- like when he recently posted 30 points and eight rebounds on 12-of-17 shooting, including 4-of-7 from 3-point range, against the Heat. But those types of performances are few and far between.

Mostly Portis is simply a big body with 3-point stretching ability who is more on-paper potential than consistent production. He has averaged more than 14 points a game each of the last three seasons, but he's under 10 a game this year. Portis is making $15 million this season and has a $15.75 million team option next season, meaning he is also an effective expiring deal.

Trier isn't playing a ton for the Knicks -- 14 minutes or fewer in seven of his last eight games, and 12 or fewer in six of those. He's a classic bench-player bucket getter who you can envision producing in limited minutes for a contender looking for scoring depth. Trier is making $3.5 million this season, and should a team want to retain the possibility of re-signing him in the summer, he has a $4.4 million qualifying offer number for 2020-21.

Smith is looking more and more buried on the Knicks' bench, playing 15 minutes or fewer in New York's last six games, including just seven minutes in a loss to the Wizards two days before Christmas. The Timberwolves are reportedly among a group of teams who have expressed interest in trading for Smith, who is making $4.4 million this season and is on the books next year at $5.6M.

Smith just hasn't panned out relative to the expectations that came with his being drafted No. 9 overall in 2017. He's averaging five points a game this season on 28-percent shooting from beyond the arc and 32 percent overall. Any team interested in Smith is still hanging onto the hope of his extraordinary athleticism eventually evolving at least one solid NBA skill. Right now he's simply a scorer at heart who can't really score. Or shoot. Or defend. But he can jump out of the gym.

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