Despite dealing with a reduced role in his sophomore campaign for a still-struggling New York Knicks team, it looks like former No. 9 overall draft pick Kevin Knox is still a key part of the organization's plans going forward.
Citing unnamed league sources, SportsNet New York's Ian Begley wrote that a number of rival teams who negotiated with the Knicks prior to former team president Steve Mills' departure had the impression that New York was "very hesitant" to move Knox ahead of the February 6 trade deadline. While it wasn't stated whether the 20-year-old forward was included in the trade package, Mills reportedly had an offer in place for then-Golden State Warriors point guard D'Angelo Russell. This deal, however, did not move forward, as Russell was eventually traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
"[T]eams generally had the feeling that Knox was not going to be moved unless it was for a young star," Begley continued, noting that Knicks officials saw the former Kentucky Wildcats star as a key part of the team's young core, along with center Mitchell Robinson and rookie wingman R.J. Barrett.As pointed out by Bleacher Report, Knox had a productive rookie season in 2018-19, averaging 12.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.1 assists, shooting 37 percent from the field and 34.3 percent from three-point territory. He started in 57 of the 75 games he played in. These numbers, however, have all declined this season, as the former lottery selection has been relegated to a reserve role. Starting only four out of 58 games played, Knox has averaged just 6.5 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 0.9 assists. His shooting, which was already subpar as a rookie, has declined to 36.2 percent from the field and 31.9 percent from beyond the arc.
Talking about the reasons why Knox's sophomore season hasn't been as promising as his first, the publication explained that Barrett -- the No. 3 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft -- plays the same position as he does. Furthermore, it was noted that veteran wing players Reggie Bullock, Wayne Ellington, and Maurice Harkless have also come in and taken some minutes away from him.
At this point in his career, it's still too early to write Knox off as a bust, much like third-year point guard Frank Ntilikina was described by Bleacher Report. But while SNY's Begley predicted that the Knicks will continue exercising patience with the young forward, he added that the team might have to eventually consider cutting their losses and trading him, considering how he has seemingly gone against the trend by regressing in his second season.