A few notes as we approach Thursday night’s draft and the rest of the offseason:
The Clippers’ willingness to trade George at this point is unknown.
Marc Stein reported earlier that the Clippers gave rival teams the impression that they were gauging George’s trade value prior to the NBA Draft.
If the Clippers dealt George, you’d assume that they would require in return players who can help them compete for a championship in 2023-24.
Can the Knicks offer the Clippers that kind of return? It’s hard to see how they can offer that return in a two-team trade that doesn’t include Jalen Brunson (The Knicks aren’t trading Jalen Brunson).
New York can certainly offer Los Angeles significant draft capital via trade. At the conclusion of Thursday’s draft, the Knicks can offer up to eight first-round picks in a trade.
George will make $45.6 million in 2023-24. The Knicks would need to send the Clippers at least $41.3 million in player salaries, or as little as $36.3 million in player salaries if they intend to be hard-capped at the first apron, in order to satisfy NBA trade rules.
Evan Fournier will make $18.9 million in 2023-24. In addition to his strong outside shooting, Fournier’s contract would likely be valued by opposing teams who are looking to decrease future salary. Fournier’s deal has a team option in 2024-25.
George, an eight-time All-Star, would obviously be a tremendous addition for a Knick team coming off a 47-win season. Again, it’s unknown at this point if the Clippers are open to moving George.
My colleagues with the Daily News, Newsday and The Athletic have reported recently on Obi Toppin. My understanding of the Toppin situation is this: if the Knicks create an opportunity for Toppin to play more – and regularly – there would be no reason to trade him. But if the Knicks can’t find a way to create more minutes for Toppin, the player and team will work together to try and find a new home for Toppin.
Toppin, the Knicks’ first lottery pick under team president Leon Rose, averaged 7.4 points and 2.8 rebounds in 15.7 minutes per game last season. Toppin’s career-high in minutes per game is 17. His playing time has been limited because of strong play from fellow power forward Julius Randle. Randle has earned two All-NBA nods and played in two All-Star games since Toppin entered the league.
As far as potential Toppin trades, it’s worth noting that the Pacers and Knicks had talks that were more than exploratory about a Toppin trade prior to the 2023 deadline. I believe the talks stalled because New York was looking for significant draft compensation.
Less noteworthy: Toppin had fans in the Wizards organization under former GM Tommy Sheppard. With President of Monumental Basketball Michael Winger and Wizards GM Will Dawkins in place, I don’t know if that interest remains.
If the Knicks trade Toppin for a pick in Thursday’s draft, they’d need to subsequently acquire a player who is ready to play rotation minutes.
To that end, several influential members of the organization support the idea of signing Donte DiVincenzo in free agency this summer. DiVincenzo has a player option for 2023-24. The Knicks, as currently constituted, will have access to the $12.2 million non-tax payer exception in the offseason.
I don’t know if there is mutual interest but DiVincenzo played with both Brunson and Josh Hart at Villanova. Hart is a potential free agent and it would be stunning if he didn’t re-sign in New York on a multi-year agreement if he chooses to test free agency.
MCBRIDE GETTING INTEREST
The Knicks have received calls on guard Miles McBride, whom they certainly value. Head coach Tom Thibodeau has always spoken glowingly about McBride when reporters ask a question about him. But McBride hasn’t gotten regular time in the Knick rotation to date due to a logjam at his position.
So teams are wondering if they can acquire McBride, the Knicks’ 2021 second-round pick, via trade. McBride has a team option on his contract that must be decided on by June 29.
If the Knicks don’t trade McBride before June 29, you can be sure that they will pick up that option.