If the Knicks are to make a splash at Thursday’s trade deadline, it won’t be with a purely rental philosophy in mind, according to NBA sources.
The Post has learned if the Knicks pull the trigger on a Victor Oladipo trade, it would be with either a firm commitment he would re-sign as a free agent or an actual extension.
The most the Knicks can offer Oladipo now is two years, $45 million, which he declined with the Pacers.
The Rockets are seeking at least a future first-round pick in return and the Knicks have the cap space to make a trade much easier, especially with the painless addition of banished Austin Rivers.
The Knicks have a plethora of draft picks, including three in the coming draft. Knicks president Leon Rose has their own first-rounder, Dallas’ first-rounder and Detroit’s second-rounder, which could be at No. 31.
“I don’t think they want any more young players so their picks are in play,” one NBA official said.
Knicks GM Scott Perry drafted Oladipo at No. 2 for the Magic in the 2013 draft and the Knicks believe he still has enough left in the tank to boost their chances in the future at age 28.
Perry no longer has the same clout as when he was the GM to Steve Mills. Miami is also in play for Oladipo at the deadline and has long been rumored a favorite to sign him in the summer.
“I think the Knicks still have to worry about his health and the year on a new deal is a major issue,” one team executive said.
The Knicks, who also have Dallas’ 2023 first-round pick, are hesitant to give up futures just for a rental.
The thought process is they aren’t ready to be a title contender. Hence, Rose is leaning toward playing it conservatively. Though he wouldn’t mind a small talent upgrade, Rose thinks this squad under Tom Thibodeau is strong enough for at least a play-in tournament berth.
The Knicks could be more active on the buyout market and New Orleans sharpshooter J.J Redick, who wants to be in New York as his family lives in Brooklyn, would be a target.
The Knicks want to make better use of their roster spot occupied by Rivers, who has likely played his last game as a Knick and is expected to be either traded or bought out.
While the Pelicans have to decide whether they’d deal point guard Lonzo Ball, the Knicks feel they’d have a chance to sign him as a restricted free agent. The Post has reported Ball prefers to stay put and target restricted free agency this summer. He has the Knicks on his free-agent radar.
The Knicks have kept tabs on banished Cavaliers center Andre Drummond, who likely will be bought out with a trade complicated. The only way the Knicks would be interested in a trade is if they locked him up for next season, too, not just to plug in as a rental.
Oladipo and Ball are larger priorities.
“The Knicks know this was a year of creating a culture and development,” one NBA executive who has been in touch with the Knicks said. “I don’t think anyone was talking about winning a championship this year.”
The Knicks don’t appear to be in on PG Kyle Lowry, who reportedly is being shopped, or San Antonio’s on-the-block power forward LaMarcus Aldridge.
However, new names of interest have surfaced as potentially being on the market in Pacers combo guard Malcolm Brogdon, who isn’t a free agent until 2023, and their big man Myles Turner.
The Knicks also have inquired about Orlando forward Evan Fournier, another Perry draft pick from Orlando whom the Magic reportedly are looking to deal.
The last thing Rose, at his first trade deadline, wants to do is set the Knicks back with the club exceeding expectations.
“You have to ask Leon, bro.,” Julius Randle said when asked what the club might need. “Ask Leon, ask Wes, ask Scott, ask them dudes. I don’t make those decisions.”
Rose hasn’t talked to the media in eight months.
As for Rivers’ situation, he fell out of favor with Thibodeau and has been away from the team since the All-Star Break for “personal reasons.”
After Rivers’ fiancée gave birth Saturday, the Knicks changed his status to “health and safety protocols” with the idea they may bring him back to the squad.
But Tuesday’s injury report returned Rivers to out for “personal reasons.” With Derrick Rose back and Elfrid Payton coming soon, there’s no expectation of Rivers being with the team again.