The New York Knicks could be one of the landing spots for Chicago Bulls centre Pau Gasol, who has been one of the latest names in NBA trade talks.
The Knicks are looking like a team that could make the playoffs this year after winning six of their last nine games. With a 20-21 record, New York is just 1.5 games behind the Boston Celtics, who currently hold the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference.
However, the Knicks are still lacking production from their guards and are currently interested for an upgrade over starting PG Jose Calderon. There are plenty of quality guards available in the trade market his season, but according to Tom West of Sports Illustrated’s Fansided, it would be intriguing for the Knicks to pull a deal for Gasol, one of the Bulls’ expendable big men, instead of reshuffling their backcourt rotation.
“With Porzingis to build around for the future, the addition of Robin Lopez this summer, and bench players like Derrick Williams, Kyle O’Quinn and Kevin Seraphin, you can argue that the Knicks don’t need a new frontcourt player,” West wrote. “That may be right, but to carry out a real upgrade while giving the team several other benefits, targeting Gasol makes sense if they want to go for something big.”
The Bulls are on the move to clear their frontcourt logjam, with the team gauging interests for trade deals involving Gasol, Taj Gibson, and Joakim Noah. Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun Times also believes the Bulls trio would not see the end of their current contracts, citing his sources that Chicago are taking exploratory calls as the trade deadline nears.
Among the three players, it seems Gasol is the likeliest to get traded, with Gibson still under contract until next season and Noah suffering a shoulder injury in the Bull’s 83-77 loss against the Dallas Mavericks. With Gasol looking as the odd man out, the Knicks could take advantage of the situation to rejoin the two-time NBA champion with Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski in one of his podcasts, the Bulls could be looking to trade one of their big men for a quality wing who could bring “more shooting” to Chicago. Enter Knicks’ shooting guard Arron Afflalo.
While Afflalo is technically not a small forward, his size and scoring abilities from the perimetre would nicely fit Fred Hoiberg’s system. Afflalo is second behind Carmelo Anthony in scoring for the Knicks averaging 14.0 points per game on 47.2 percent shooting from the field.
On the other hand, Gasol would offer the Knicks a talented big man, who could operate inside the paint and still offer rim protection despite lacking defense. Gasol would also serve as an upgrade over Robin Lopez and a perfect mentor for budding star Kristaps Porzingis, who has been one of the Knicks’ bright spots this season.
A trade scenario that would swap Gasol for Afflalo is virtually possible, according to ESPN’s trade machine. However, it would be hard for the Knicks to give up a reliable scorer like Afflalo unless they are really interested in bringing the towering Spaniard to the Big Apple.
With the right deal, the Knicks could instantly boost themselves a postseason run. But the Knicks would probably be wise not to make a trade package with the Bulls as they are both competing for a playoff spot in the East.