The New York Knicks are a team in transition after trading long-time franchise player Carmelo Anthony last summer. The new core of Kristaps Porzingis, Enes Kanter, Frank Ntilikina, and Tim Hardaway Jr. has proven sustainable at least in the team’s first 34 games.
However, some NBA analysts believe that the Knicks need some veteran touch in the small forward spot to finally have the starting lineup that would help them get back in the postseason after four years of waiting.
As the season reaches its halfway mark, the Knicks are presently ninth in the East with an even 17-17 slate, only a game behind current eight-seeded Miami Heat. They have lost three straight and four of their last five games, which caused a lot of trade buzz online.
While the aforementioned core of players are said to be “untouchables,” almost every other player in head coach Jeff Hornacek’s roster is rumored to be on the Knicks’ trading block.
One of the rumored trades that could happen soon for the Knicks is a potential deal with rival Charlotte Hornets for 29-year-old wingman Nicolas Batum.
Basketball Insiders‘ Steve Kyler reported that the Hornets have made Batum, along with teammate Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, available as Charlotte intends to shed off precious salary cap space heading into the next offseason.
Batum is only in the second year of his five-year, $120 million deal with the Hornets. Bleacher Report‘s Dan Favale said that his weighty salary is an “expensive risk” for any team who would trade for him, but the Knicks are known to make such wagers in the past.
According to Maxwell Ogden of Fansided‘s Daily Knicks blog, Batum might not be the long-term solution for the Knicks’ current small forward woes, but the Frenchman “would check every box” when it comes to the team’s on-court needs. Batum is a reliable defender and facilitator when healthy, and could also bring stability to a young roster like that of the Knicks’.
Ogden continued that Batum’s “unique versatility would likely elevate the Knicks to postseason status” and can help with locker room leadership as well.
Another risk that the Knicks could face should they try to get Batum is his current health condition after he tore his left elbow’s ulnar collateral ligament in October. He has been back since the middle of November, but there are reports that he is still being hampered by the bummed elbow.