Part I: Which stars could the Knicks target and how would they fit? (2024)

The New York Knicks will venture into the offseason hoping that one NBA constant remains true: That eventually, a star among stars will become available on the trade market.

That’s when the Knicks can pounce. They’ve saved up draft picks and middling, tradeable contracts. Add a star to a 50-win team that came just one win away from the Eastern Conference finals, and New York has a contender. But there is one problem: There is no obvious star in sight.


The Knicks’ grand plan ever since president Leon Rose took over the front office in 2020 was to trade for the next big name, an MVP-caliber talent that would want to join a newly-minted winning culture in New York. They’ve got the culture part down and have stumbled into a first star in the process, watching Jalen Brunson morph into an All-NBA performer.

As The Athletic has previously reported, the Knicks are targeting this upcoming summer as the time to make the trade for the next star. If no one worthwhile presents himself, then they will turn their eyes to the 2025 trade deadline.

And yet, there isn’t that obvious top-10 player who could be on the move come July, or even beyond that.

It’s why the Knicks are banking on that universal truth. In the NBA, whether it’s the offseason or trade deadline, a star asks out, either quietly or loudly, drama ensues and wooing from 29 other teams begins.

For now, though, with that big-timer’s identity in question, let’s run through the list. Here are six stars (with more to come next week) whose names could enter the public discourse this summer and how the Knicks may fit into their futures.

Paul George, wing, Clippers

George would be the ideal fit with the Knicks: A rangy wing who drains 3-pointers, runs pick-and-rolls, doesn’t stop moving off the ball and could combine with OG Anunoby to create the best defensive perimeter combination in the league. He plays with no ego and has no issue taking a back seat to costars, whether they’re Kawhi Leonard or Russell Westbrook. And, oh, he’s a client of CAA, the same agency Rose ran before coming to the Knicks four years ago.

But George can become a free agent this summer so acquiring him would be complicated.

The Knicks don’t have the cap space to do so. And because the Clippers are so expensive, above the second apron, new rules prevent them from signing and trading him. New York’s only avenue to acquire George would be for him to opt into his $48.8 million player option for 2024-25, then have LA work out a trade.


The Clippers may not be so willing to participate if George’s second choice is just to stay in California, where he is from and always had the itch to play.

The Knicks have kicked George’s name around before, according to league sources, but they never seriously pursued him in a deal. Even if the basketball fit is perfection, he’s 34, five years older than anyone in their current rotation, and has a history of injuries — though he played 74 games this past season for the first time in five years.

The Clippers will be aggressive hoping to re-sign George, too, considering they don’t want a dampened-down version of a team that lost in the first round of the playoffs when they enter a new arena next season. Yet, the two sides not agreeing to an extension leaves the door cracked slightly open for other possibilities.

Donovan Mitchell, guard, Cavaliers

The Knicks are not in the same position today that they were a couple of summers ago when their offseason goal was to trade for Mitchell. They couldn’t make it happen, pulling out of negotiations when the price became too large.

If Mitchell were to hit the trade market again this summer, league sources say the Knicks would not be as enthusiastic in their pursuit of him — and that’s because the situation has changed.

Brunson is a star now, and Mitchell, though he’s had the best seasons of his career in Cleveland, has not shown he can fit perfectly alongside a score-first point guard who commands the ball often. The Cavs offense can devolve into your turn, my turn with Darius Garland, who regressed this season. Their defense is consistently near the top of the league because they employ the best rim-protection tandem in the Eastern Conference.

When the Knicks went after Mitchell two years ago, they were coming off a 37-win season. Brunson was not yet an All-Star. New York wanted talent in the door and could figure the rest out later. It’s not the same now. The Knicks’ next move, one that takes giving up picks and maybe some players, hampering their long-term flexibility, would make sense only if it transformed them into title contenders.


Does adding another defensive weak point at guard who could work with Brunson but might not operate at 100 percent efficiency alongside him get them to that level? Would those two at the top of the defense become a problem during a conference finals against the positionless Boston Celtics, who roast mismatches?

Besides, it’s possible Mitchell may not even be available this summer.

The Cavaliers can offer him a massive extension come July. If he turns it down, they may have to deal him, considering he can become a free agent in 2025. But if he takes it, he’s locked in, and Cleveland will move forward with a group that just made the second round of the playoffs.

Mikal Bridges, wing, Nets

If egos did not exist, then the Knicks and Nets could execute the ideal trade.

After a 50-loss season, Brooklyn, in another world, could turn to rebuild mode. Bridges, who can become a free agent in two years, may not be an All-Star or the future MVP that will change New York basketball forever, but he fits in every other way. There’s the obvious Villanova connection. He won a collegiate title with Brunson, Josh Hart and Donte DiVincenzo. And then there are the on-court ones.

He’s a defensive stopper who could slot into massive lineups alongside Anunoby, Julius Randle and a center. He could slide down a spot and play forward next to Anunoby with DiVincenzo and Brunson at guard. He’s not a No. 1 option, but Bridges can run a pick-and-roll, score off the dribble and is a highly efficient shooter when he’s around other creators.

If the Nets were to break it down, the Knicks could present an enticing offer: Lots of unprotected first-round picks, protected ones from other teams, first-round swaps and Bojan Bogdanović to make the money-matching work.

But there’s one issue: The Nets have expressed zero interest in trading Bridges, according to league sources who have been in contact with them — and it’s not like they haven’t had opportunities. Other teams have offered hoards of first-rounders; Brooklyn hasn’t engaged.

According to league sources, Brooklyn’s front office has told teams it views Bridges as a costar to whichever big name it can trade for down the line. That’s the organization’s long-term plan — though all it takes for the blueprint to change is one hint from Bridges that he wouldn’t re-sign in a couple of seasons.

But if you’re yearning for Bridges, there’s another obstacle: The Nets and Knicks don’t make trades … like, ever.

They haven’t made one since 1983, a clear ego play from both sides. The Knicks don’t want to send over a draft pick that turns into No. 1 and refuels the Nets to create a dynasty, only to see on the back pages for years to come that a rival from across the river built a behemoth. The Nets don’t want to give up the better player and then get clowned for handing the Knicks their first title in five decades.

If the Knicks can trade with the Toronto Raptors, as they did this season amidst a lawsuit between the two franchises, then maybe petty differences wouldn’t stop them from trading with anyone else. But a Knicks-Nets trade of any kind would shatter a longtime precedent.

Part I: Which stars could the Knicks target and how would they fit? (1)

Could Julius Randle and Karl-Anthony Towns be playing together in New York? (Stephen Maturen / Getty Images)

Karl-Anthony Towns, center/forward, Timberwolves

If money did not exist, if every NBA player competed only for the love of the game, Towns would not be on this list. The Timberwolves just throttled to the Western Conference finals for the first time in 20 years and employ a budding superstar in Anthony Edwards. Towns is coming off a fabulous season, figuring out how to run at power forward alongside fellow 7-footer and four-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert.

But money does exist. And we don’t know how the Wolves, whose payroll is about to skyrocket, will react to that.

Two potential owners are caught up in a tug-of-war over the team. No one knows how this will end. Depending on who ends up in control, cost-cutting measures could follow. And the easiest way for Minnesota to save money is to trade Towns, whose massive extension kicks in next season when his salary will jump from $36 million in 2023-24 to $49.4 million and will only keep rising.


The Knicks have always had an eye on Towns, though this front office has never engaged in serious trade negotiations for him, according to league sources. He’s a CAA client, one of the most-skilled offensive bigs ever to touch a basketball and though he had a complicated relationship with Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau back when Thibodeau coached him in Minnesota, there are people around the coach who believe the two have reconciled and would work well together now (though you never know until you see it in person).

If the Wolves were to trade Towns, doing so on draft night could make the most sense, considering that would be before his giant extension number kicks in.

He could play the four alongside Isaiah Hartenstein, a free-agent-to-be the Knicks hope to re-sign. He could play the five, too. He may not fare as well next to Mitchell Robinson, who clogs the paint, taking up the space Towns would need to post up. Towns may roast defenses on the perimeter, but he’s one of the best back-to-the-basket bigs in existence. You don’t want to take away his versatility.

But it isn’t easy to imagine a team that just tasted such success, 56 wins and impressive playoff series victories over the Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets, behind its size and talent turning away from that so quickly.

If the Wolves hold onto Towns but get off to a slow start next season, then maybe long-term dollar shedding begins. If so, they may look more for present-day help than for picks. They want to win around Edwards. But for now, the assumption has to be that Minnesota tries to improve on arguably the best team in the history of the franchise.

Dejounte Murray, guard, Hawks

If there is one team most due for change this summer, it’s the one fresh of a two point-guard experiment that fell flat. The Hawks will scour the market this offseason, searching for viable ways to break up the two All-Stars who run their offense.

Based on how they’ve operated previously, Murray seems more likely to go than three-time All-Star Trae Young, though Atlanta could fetch a haul for Young, an undersized guard who is still an offensive machine.


The Hawks fielded offers for Murray leading up to this past winter’s trade deadline but couldn’t find one worth executing. During that time, they spoke with the Knicks, league sources said, but the two sides never got close to an agreement. Part of Murray’s appeal to New York was his flippability; the Knicks could trade for Murray at the deadline, then include him in another deal for a star this summer or next season.

The Knicks could use another point guard to run the second unit behind Brunson, and they could stagger Murray and Brunson so that one facilitator remained on the court at all times. But Murray is an imperfect fit. His defense, once one of his strengths, cratered in Atlanta. Maybe the downtick was because of the culture that festered playing alongside Young, who is no stopper, himself. Maybe a change of scenery vaults him back to stingier territory. But no team will know for sure until it sees him in another uniform. And offensively, he could not figure out how to maximize himself next to a ball-dominant guard.

It’s not like the Hawks would give away Murray, who they traded multiple unprotected first-rounders and a swap for only two years ago. They would want a real package back.

The Knicks would have to ask themselves: Is Murray the missing piece, the one who will help them win the East? If he were to start next to Brunson, would his production justify his salary, which is two and a half times larger than DiVincenzo’s?

Meanwhile, Young is too small, defensively challenged and ball-dominant to play alongside Brunson. The Knicks would not make a play for him.

DeMar DeRozan, wing, Bulls

DeRozan is a free agent, which means the Knicks, who are above the salary cap, could acquire him only with a sign-and-trade. He’s coming off a $28.6 million salary and averaged 24 points per game. He might be 34 years old but he will still cost money.

Beyond that, the fit would be uncomfortable.


DeRozan is a professional scorer but isn’t a floor spacer or defender. He may hand the Knicks another bucket-getter, but is that what they need at that age, at that price and at that defensive expense?

The most likely path for DeRozan appears to be re-signing with the Bulls, who can pay to retain him and hope to make another run at the Play-In Tournament. If he were to leave for a winning situation, it would likely take a discount and a diminished role from what he has in Chicago.

(Top photo of Donte DiVincenzo and Paul George: Stephen Gosling / NBAE via Getty Images)

Part I: Which stars could the Knicks target and how would they fit? (2024)


What makes the Knicks so valuable? ›

So, in addition to good attendance, Media rights are why the Knicks are the wealthiest team in the league. Also, the Knicks have one of the best sponsorships in the league. Its main sponsors are Delta Air Lines; JPMorgan chase; Lexus; PepsiCo, which account for about 20 percent of the Knicks' total revenue.

What are the New York Knicks known for? ›

New York Knicks, American professional basketball team based in New York City. The Knicks (which is a shortened version of their official nickname, Knickerbockers) have won two National Basketball Association (NBA) championships (1970 and 1973) and are among the most lucrative franchises in professional basketball.

Who is a free agent in the 2024 NBA? ›

2024 NBA free agency player rankings, tracker
1LeBron James (39)SF
2Paul George (34)SF
3Tyrese Maxey (23)PG
4James Harden (34)PG
26 more rows
1 day ago

Who used to play on the Knicks? ›

Historical roster for New York Knicks - B
Buckner ClevelandPF1962-1963, 1961-1962
Budd DaveSF1964-1965, 1963-1964, 1962-1963, 1961-1962, 1960-1961
Bullock ReggieSG / SF2019-2020, 2020-2021
Bunch GregSG / SF1978-1979
60 more rows

How did the Knicks get so good? ›

Through the draft and player development, and excellent signings in free agency (Brunson, DiVincenzo, Josh Hart,...all extraordinary signings on team friendly contracts). On top of that, the Knicks still possess excellent draft capital, more than enough to add one more superstar piece in the next free agency.

Has a Knick ever won MVP? ›

Willis Reed won the MVP award for the Knicks in 1969-70.

Who has the highest all-time FG% for the Knicks? Which team has the most wins as road dogs since 2014-15? What was the best record in a season for the Knicks?

Why are Knicks called Knicks? ›

We were all sitting in the office one day - Irish, (publicity man) Lester Scott and a few others on the staff. We each put a name in the hat, and when we pulled them out, most of them said Knickerbockers, after Father Knickerbocker, the symbol of New York City. It soon was shortened to Knicks."

When have the Knicks been good? ›

New York Knicks
Championships2 (1970, 1973)
Conference titles4 (1972, 1973, 1994, 1999)
Division titles8 (1953, 1954, 1970, 1971, 1989, 1993, 1994, 2013)
Retired numbers8 (10, 12, 15, 15, 19, 22, 24, 33, 613)
19 more rows

Have the Knicks ever won? ›

They've won two, in fact. But even the most recent of those titles came more than 50 years ago. In the 1969/70 season an iconic Knicks team set an NBA record for consecutive wins, racking up 18 back-to-back victories on their way to a 60-22 regular season.

Who is a free agent in 2025 MLB? ›

Player (261)PosAge
Marcell OzunaDH33.6
Kenley JansenRP36.7
Frankie MontasSP31.2
Michael WachaSP32.9
25 more rows

Who are the Celtics free agents? ›

Celtics free agents

The Celtics own team options on Sam Hauser ($2.1 million) and Neemias Queta ($2.2 million), and Oshae Brissett has a player option for $2.5 million. Hauser is the one to watch from that group, since the Celtics could either pick up his option or decline it and work out a long-term deal.

What day does NBA free agency start? ›

NBA free agency begins on Sunday, June 30 at 6 p.m. ET, when teams can officially start negotiating with free agents. Teams are allowed to start signing free agents on Saturday, July 6 at 12:01 p.m. ET. Some free agents, however, may be off the board by then.

Who is 0 on the Knicks? ›

New York Knicks Roster
D. Jeffries #8SG26
D. DiVincenzo #0SG27
D. Washington #1SG24
I. Hartenstein #55C26
14 more rows

Who wore 42 on the Knicks? ›

New York Knicks My Number: #42 Lance Thomas.

Who wore 44 for the Knicks? ›

Bojan Bogdanović (Croatian pronunciation: [ˌbǒjan boɡˈdǎːnoʋit͜ɕ]; born 18 April 1989) is a Croatian professional basketball player for the New York Knicks of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He also represents the Croatian national team internationally.

What is the cheapest NBA team to buy? ›

The New Orleans Pelicans, the league's least valuable team, is worth $2.72 million, way up from its 2020 valuation of $1.35 million.

Why are the Knicks so loved? ›

Fifty years since the Knicks last won a championship, a freshly promising team led by star point guard Jalen Brunson has captivated their hometown. With their best record in 10 years and a likable cast of players, the Knicks have won back former fans and attracted new ones, including A-list celebrities.

What is the most richest NBA team? ›

For the second consecutive year, the Golden State Warriors are the most valuable team at $7.7 billion, an increase of 10% from a year ago. The Warriors generated $765 million in revenue (net of arena debt service and revenue sharing) during the 2022-23 season, 48% more the any other team.

How much money are the Knicks worth? ›

The franchise value of the New York Knicks reached 6.6 billion U.S. dollars in 2023. This denoted an increase of roughly eight percent over the previous year, when the National Basketball Association franchise had an estimated value of 6.1 billion U.S. dollars.

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