With rumors suggesting that the New York Knicks are keeping a close eye on the Houston Rockets’ Victor Oladipo in the lead-up to the March 25 trade deadline, Bleacher Report suggested on Thursday that the Knicks could acquire the shooting guard for a package featuring three players and a future draft selection.
As explained by the publication’s Dan Favale, the Knicks could turn out to be “pluckier than expected” as they try to land Oladipo before the deadline, though if they aren’t able to make a satisfactory offer, they have enough salary-cap space to sign him once he becomes a free agent in the 2021 offseason. He added that New York should refuse any counter-offer from Houston that requires the club to include their top young players, including Mitchell Robinson, R.J. Barrett, or Immanuel Quickley, or their own future first-round choices.
With that in mind, Favale suggested that the Knicks could offer two players — reserve point guard Dennis Smith Jr. and rookie forward Obi Toppin — and the top-10 protected 2023 first-rounder they previously acquired from the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for Oladipo. Although adding Toppin to the package might sound “like a little much,” the Bleacher Report writer opined that it might be best to trade him because he is seeing limited minutes behind Julius Randle at power forward and might remain buried on the bench as long as the Knicks are focusing on Randle and Robinson as frontcourt “building blocks.”
If the Knicks are able to acquire Oladipo on or before March 25, he will likely provide the Knicks — who are ninth in the Eastern Conference with a 10-13 record — the star power they need to end their lengthy playoff drought. According to Basketball-Reference, he is averaging 20.4 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.6 assists, and 1.4 steals and shooting 40.8 percent from the field in 17 games split between the Indiana Pacers and the Rockets.
Talking about how the Rockets could benefit from the hypothetical transaction, Favale wrote that it would be a “win” for Houston if the organization ends up with Toppin — who was picked eighth overall in last year’s draft — and a future pick. While he cautioned that the Rockets might give up a lot of points on defense with Toppin and Christian Wood playing together in the frontcourt, he added that the former Dayton star’s potential arrival would be an “offensive dream” for the organization.
As Smith is hardly seeing any playing time behind Quickley, Elfrid Payton, and Frank Ntilikina at point guard, Favale suggested that the Knicks might allow the Rockets to save more money by not including him in the package for Oladipo. However, he noted that offering the former ninth overall selection could also allow the team to preserve its salary-cap flexibility going forward.