Knicks to look into potential trade target Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

The Knicks’ draft vault is full of first-round picks, but their roster doesn’t make a difference, which was clearly evident thanks to a 6-6 average start.

They didn’t empty Donovan Mitchell’s coffers. Would they push their chips for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, an emerging star with many Knicks ties?

Sunday might help answer that question.

The Knicks will host the unimpressive Thunder and get a good look at Oklahoma City’s impressive young wing, who could be the next traded star, if he continues to rise and his team embraces tanking.

Gilgeous-Alexander is an active, athletic 6-foot-6 out-guard who can create his own shot and get to any spot on the floor. He’s surged this season, averaging 30.5 points, which was seventh-best in the NBA on Saturday, with 53.9% shooting. He scored most of his points by cutting down the hallway. No one makes more drives per game than Gilgeous-Alexander, who averages 24.2, about 1.5 more than Grizzlies All-Star Ja Morant.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander could be a game changer for the Knicks.
AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

The 24-year-old is shooting just 33% from 3-point range but attempted his fewest 3s since his 2018-19 rookie season. Gilgeous-Alexander is bursting — and making the case for his first NBA All-Star selection — by breaking down defenses.

Add to that his 5.5 assists, 1.5 blocks and two steals per game (which was sixth-highest in the NBA), and his long span-obstructing paths – and the Thunder have either been an intriguing player to build, an attractive asset to cash in on.

Oklahoma City is 5-7 and is currently out of the Western Conference playoff draw, but its few wins have come on the back of Gilgeous-Alexander. The Thunder have already lost Chet Holmgren, the second overall pick in 2022, and trading Gilgeous-Alexander would widen their path to landing generational prospect Victor Wembanyama in the 2023 draft.

There might be a reason for general manager Sam Presti – who has shown he’s not afraid to deal with stars, from James Harden and Russell Westbrook to Chris Paul and Paul George (who went to the Clippers in exchange for Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari and chooses ) — to pull the trigger.

And there could be a reason for Gilgeous-Alexander to ask for a trade. The Thunder haven’t made the playoffs since 2020, their first season in Oklahoma City, when they were eliminated in the first round of the bubble playoffs by the Rockets. The Thunder have since gone 51-115 and are likely heading for a lottery pick.

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander dives in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Toronto Raptors, Friday, Nov. 11, 2022, in Oklahoma City.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was picked up by the Thunder from the Clippers.
AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

“I know what I signed when I signed a five-year extension,” Gilgeous-Alexander, in his first season of a maximum $172 million rookie contract extension, told reporters in september. “And I don’t think we’re going to lose much longer. … I believe in this team.

Of course, plenty of stars have adopted similar tones in public before asking to be shipped off to a suitor.

The Knicks, as they are currently constructed, are not a contender, but they should know Gilgeous-Alexander better than anyone.

Surely they saw plenty of Gilgeous-Alexander in Kentucky as they searched for the 2018 NBA draft, when they instead picked teammate Kevin Knox at No. 9 — two picks before Gilgeous-Alexander was selected by the Hornets, who immediately dealt him to the Clippers. .

The Post reported that prior to this draft, Gilgeous-Alexander’s Los Angeles-based agents refused to allow him to train for teams other than the Clippers. If the Gilgeous-Alexander rep team still yearns for a big market, Oklahoma City isn’t a good fit.

Meanwhile, apparently every Kentucky player suits the Knicks from team president Leon Rose and senior executive William “World Wide Wes” Wesley. They both have strong ties to the program, which helped recruit former Wildcats Immanuel Quickley and Julius Randle.

And just in case the Knicks need one more Gilgeous-Alexander connection, he and fellow Canadian RJ Barrett have committed to playing for Team Canada through the 2024 Summer Olympics. the national team is Rowan Barrett, RJ’s father.

If the Thunder prioritize their draft position over a long playoff run, the Knicks could be top of the line for Gilgeous-Alexander. They have nine first-round picks over the next five drafts, a stash that remained intact after Mitchell was dealt to the Cavaliers.

Is Gilgeous-Alexander the star the Knicks have been looking for so long?

Maybe Sunday’s game at Madison Square Garden can shed some light.

Comments are closed.