The New York Knicks have waited for an established star to descend upon Manhattan. Could it come in the form of Chicago’s slam dunk sensation?
The New York Knicks could be looking for a slam dunk trade that will at least solidify their spot among the Eastern Conference’s top six.
Granted, Zach LaVine has evolved beyond the mere identity of Dunk Contest champion that perhaps defined his early days in Minnesota. Over the past few seasons, particularly as a star attraction with the Chicago Bulls, LaVine has developed himself into a reliable scoring option, a skillset rewarded with consecutive All-Star nominations. In 40 games this season, LaVine has averaged 23.9 points but has been labeled potential bait at the trade deadline with the Bulls (21-24) mired in mediocrity after making their first playoff appearance since 2017 last year.
Those at the NBA Analysis Network have pegged the Knicks as a potential new home for LaVine, proposing a trade where New York sends Evan Fournier, Isaiah Hartenstein, Cam Reddish, and two of their own first-round picks to Chicago for his services. The hypothetical deal also includes a pick swap during the 2026 campaign.
Of the veterans involved, only Hartenstein is earning any sort of regular playing time with the Knicks. Fournier is back in exile after briefly emerging during a rash of injuries to names like RJ Barrett and Jalen Brunson while Reddish hasn’t played since Dec. 3 despite good health and some one-sided games. Any deal involving Hartenstein is likely delayed with the injury to Mitchell Robinson, however, as it’s unlikely the Knicks’ starting center returns before the trade deadline on Feb. 10.
Adding a talent like LaVine would no doubt be a bit of a boost to the Knicks and giving away two stagnant veterans with some of their draft cabinet is a fair price to pay. Chicago, however, might not want to make any deal until they can get any form of interior assistance and Robinson’s injury (said to keep him out for at least three weeks) puts them in no position to deal away what little post depth they have (Hartenstein and Jericho Sims are expected to step up with Robinson out).
The Bulls, currently holders of the fourth and final Play-In Tournament spot, currently rank 24th in rebounds per game. So as sweet as it’d be to stage a Derrick Rose reunion in the Windy City, the Bulls would likely look for some sort of practicality rather than nostalgics. Only adding to their predicament is the fact that their regularly scheduled draft pick, currently 10th-best in the lottery odds, is heading to Orlando barring top-four protection.
In the meantime, the Knicks, as constructed, are hitting the road for the weekend beginning with a Friday visit to Atlanta (7:30 p.m. ET, MSG).
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags
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