After missing the playoffs for five consecutive years, the New York Knicks are expected to make a huge splash in the upcoming offseason, either via trade or free agency. One of their potential targets is Kemba Walker of the Charlotte Hornets. Like the Knicks, the 27-year-old New York native is already tired of losing and expressed his intention to leave the Hornets if they won’t make a huge improvement this summer.
According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, the Hornets and the Knicks engaged in a trade discussion involving Courtney Lee and Malik Monk before the February 8 trade deadline. O’Connor suggested that both teams could expand the deal by involving Kemba Walker and other trade assets this summer.
“If I were the Hornets, I’d insist on attaching Batum to a deal involving Monk and Walker. A package of Noah, Lee, and the Knicks’ 2018 first plus one protected future first is perfectly acceptable, but maybe they can be squeezed for a few other future assets.”
If Walker really wants his way out, trading him in the upcoming offseason will be the best option for the Hornets than losing him in 2019 free agency without getting anything in return. The proposed deal will also enable them to get rid of Nic Batum’s lucrative contract, which runs until 2020-21 NBA season, per Spotrac. The first-round picks they will acquire will help them speed up the rebuilding process while waiting for the summer of 2020, where they will have salary cap flexibility to sign their target players by letting Lee and Noah walk away as free agents.
Joakim Noah and Courtney Lee were parts of Phil Jackson’s experiment to surround Carmelo Anthony with quality players. Unfortunately, the Knicks’ “Super Team” failed to live up to expectations, leading the organization to fire Jackson and trade Anthony. While Lee remains part of the Knicks’ rotation, Noah has been officially shut down after an altercation with head coach Jeff Hornacek.
Trading away Noah and Lee will at least lessen the drama surrounding the Knicks. Pairing Kemba Walker with Kristaps Porzingis will undeniably help the Knicks end their playoff drought. In his first season as the Knicks’ lone superstar, Porzingis has been very impressive, averaging 22.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks on 43.9 percent shooting from the field and 39.5 percent from the three-point range.
However, the Latvian center, alone, obviously can’t lead the Knicks back to the NBA Finals, especially with the emergence of multiple “Super Teams” in the league. Teaming up with another superstar like Kemba Walker will make the road to title contention easier for Porzingis. If Walker and Porzingis mesh well next season, O’Connor believes the Knicks will be an attractive destination for free agents in the summer of 2019.