The New York Knicks are a player away from making the Cleveland Cavaliers shake in their boots. During the offseason, Phil Jackson put together what he essentially thought would be an Eastern Conference contender. But, much like with any team that features three or more new players in the starting lineup, it has taken the Knicks time to gel. As a NY resident I can see and hear the frustration in Knicks fans faces and voices but there may be a solution to this.
With reports that the Philadelphia 76ers may be open to trading Center Nerlens Noel, the Knicks may need to consider this as an option. Jackson brought in Joakim Noah in the offseason but Noah has not lived up to his contract. Noah was never much of a scorer but what he has done this season has to even fall below his expectations. Noah averages four points, eight rebounds, and one block in 23 minutes. If the Knicks are to consider themselves serious contenders then his production must increase.[embedit snippet=”2″]
The 76ers have no need for Noel with the emergence go Joel Embiid and steady performances by Jahlil Okafor and would probably love to get rid of Noel for a wing player or starting caliber PG. Noel will provide the low post defense the Knicks thought they were getting from Noah. Noah is still one of the best blue-collar players in the league but Noel is younger and cheaper. Last season Noel averaged 11 points, eight rebounds, and two blocks in 29 minutes per. This is the production the Knicks seek.
The biggest issue will be the moving parts and the money. To make this work the Knicks and 76ers must find a third-party team to take on Noah and his contract. One team that could be willing to do such is the Portland Trail Blazers. If the Knicks were to send Noah to the Blazers, the Blazers could send Allen Crabbe to the 76ers and the 76ers will send Noel to the Knicks. The Knicks would get their defensive presence, the Blazers would get a much-needed veteran rim protector and the 76ers would get a starting two-guard. When looking at it on paper it makes sense. But that’s paper.
The Knicks may not want to go this route just yet but Noel will not be on the blocks too long before a team takes him off the 76ers hands, quite possibly for a 2nd round pick. The Knicks have a chance to get younger, better defensively and shed some cap space before the trade deadline.
Time for Jackson to make that call to Philly.