The holidays are traditionally a time for reflection. And
family. And NBA basketball.
While COVID has returned to rain on our collective parades, NBA
commissioner Adam Silver has made it clear that, for better or
worse, the NBA will not pause the season. And as long as the NBA
continues playing, Basketball News is here to analyze the results,
trades, rumors and more.
While Christmas Day was a major showcase for the league, the
midway point of December also marked another key day for the
league, as Dec. 15 is the trigger date that a player who was signed
in the 2021 offseason can be traded. Considering the NBA trade
deadline is Feb. 10, Christmas (and the weeks leading up to it) was
an opportunity for teams to showcase players they would like to
Analyzing rumors broken by the likes of ESPN’s Adrian
Wojnarowski makes up much of the discourse around the NBA’s trade
season, but we in the media rarely pontificate about we would like
to see. Generally speaking, this is intuitive in that discussing
non-substantiative rumors is essentially a trip to fantasy
Still, sometimes trade ideas are so tantalizing and obvious that
we can’t help ourselves. And that’s where we find ourselves
With that in mind, let’s discuss an unlikely trade that, in my
opinion, would greatly benefit each team involved hypothetically.
Salaries don’t match perfectly, so it would be a bit more involved
than a one-for-one deal, but it’s too good to ignore. So, let’s
fast-track this one to the top of a late-Christmas and early New
Years wish list.
The New York Knicks are pretty darn polarizing. Their fans are
absolute diehards, but New York receives an unfair amount of
national attention considering that the team has qualified for just
one postseason in the past eight years.
Still, even the haters had to admit that the Knicks looked like
they were on to something last season. They ended the year 41-31 as
the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, and they boasted their
first All-Star selection since 2017-18 in Julius Randle. But they
had an unforgiving first-round matchup with the Atlanta Hawks, who
effectively game planned for Randle and showed the entire league
how to neutralize New York's roster — and they’ve been stuck in the
mud ever since.
The Knicks are presently 15-18 (good for 12th in the East) with
limited reason to be optimistic. It’s simply not working as
Even before COVID sidelined six of its players, New York was
clearly out of sync. The team ranks 22nd in Defensive Rating
(110.5), 27th in Pace (96.3) and has received very little from its
offseason signings. Despite recent signs of life, Kemba Walker and
Evan Fournier are both averaging near career-lows in minutes and
points per game, as well as field goal percentage.
Still, there is enough of a track record to believe that head
coach Tom Thibodeau will right the ship defensively; Walker was a
relatively affordable signing, and Fournier is in the first year of
a fairly pricey deal, meaning getting out of it would cost assets
Unless the Knicks believe that adding some combination of
peripheral pieces will make them a contender, there are limited
ways forward. On the bright side, they have a young and vibrant
supporting cast. On the not-so-bright side — and an oft-ignored
point in and around New York — the Knicks were not going to compete
for a championship with a roster built around Randle. So, while
this proposal might irk some, remember that is allows New York to
remain competitive, while becoming even younger.
Through 33 games, Randle has taken a step back from last season.
He’s averaging over four fewer points per game (19.9) and shooting
significantly worse from behind the arc (33.7%). He’s not fairing
much better from inside the arc (47.3%), and he’s turning the ball
over more than ever before (3.5 turnovers per contest) too. On the
whole, Randle is making bad decisions, dribbling into double teams
and — as discussed by our very own Moke Hamilton — has set a bad example for his younger
But there’s a lot wrong in New York that’s impacting Randle’s
play and attitude, and it includes the play of Walker and Fournier.
RJ Barrett’s poor shooting isn’t helping either. Ultimately,
though, Randle is easier to move than Fournier and returns far more
in terms of talent and/or assets, and the idea of moving Barrett
would be met with a full-on mutiny.
But Randle can still be an impressively productive player. He’s
strong, versatile, relatively young (27), helps initiate the
offense and defends multiple positions. He just needs to play with
a different mix of players.
Enter the Indiana Pacers.
The Pacers have made it clear that they are not interested in a
full-on rebuild. But considering the bevy of rumors sounding off
out of Indianapolis, it’s clearly not all sunshine and rainbows
either. Players involved in rumors include Domantas Sabonis, Myles Turner and Caris LeVert — all of whom
should be of interest to the Knicks. (Editor's Note:
BasketballNews.com examined potential destinations for all three.
Click the hyperlinks to read more.)
Sabonis is the only one of those three I would consider swapping
Sabonis is still just 25. He’s an absolute bull, averaging 20.3
points and 12.0 rebounds per game last season. His numbers are down
slightly this year, but it’s hard to blame him considering that the
wheels are falling off in Indiana. Sabonis can play the 4 or the 5,
meaning swapping him and Randle would enable the Knicks to slide
prized second-year player Obi Toppin into the starting lineup, too.
It also would allow Fournier and Barrett to take on more in terms
of initiating and creating, and would cut the overall payroll a bit
this season and beyond.
But this isn’t only beneficial for New York. In fact, it might
be more beneficial for the Pacers.
Indiana would receive a more dynamic playmaker in return, and
one who is signed at a moderately affordable number through at
least 2024-25. The Pacers would, theoretically, trot out a core of
Malcom Brogdon, LeVert, Randle and Turner — all of whom are beyond
serviceable. It would free up Indiana’s big man logjam and provides
them with an elite scorer. Randle would probably look better
alongside an established point guard, too, and Brogdon is just
flat-out better than Derrick Rose or Kemba Walker at this stage of
Ultimately, Knicks and Pacers fans will both be furious with
this idea. But as they sit at the 12th and 13th spots in the
Eastern Conference, respectively, I reply by with this: Is either
group happy with their teams’ chances of winning a
Well, this move would put both on a better path toward doing