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Report: Knicks still pursuing Kyle Lowry trade

Feb 18, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT

The will they?-won’t they?-will they?-won’t they? saga of trade negotiations between the Knicks and Raptors involving Kyle Lowry is reportedly back to the “will they?” stage.

Ian Begley of ESPN:

With the NBA trade deadline three days away, the Knicks continue to try to engage the Raptors in an attempt to acquire point guard Kyle Lowry, according to league sources.

The Knicks are offering packages including Iman Shumpert, Raymond Felton and Beno Udrih, sources say. They have been reluctant to include sharpshooting rookie Tim Hardaway Jr. or a future first-round draft pick in any deal. One of those two pieces is believed to be a prerequisite for Toronto to consider giving up Lowry.

Udrih is a passable backup who has no real value in a trade like this. Felton has had a miserable season, and with two years remaining on his contract, even with a below-average salary, he might have negative trade value. Shumpert remains intriguing, but he’s taken a step back after a promising first two years.

The Knicks won’t find an acceptable package with players from that group, especially because New York is trying to change Toronto’s mind about keeping Lowry for the rest of the season.

Offering a first-round pick – 2018 at the earliest – and/or Hardaway should at least pique the Raptors’ interest, though.

However, if a trade like that happened, Knicks critics would leap to slam New York. That’s not an insignificant factor, considering Knicks owner James Dolan initially rejected such a trade for fear of the appearance of getting fleeced again by Masai Ujiri.

But would that really be fair?

Lowry ranks 18th in the NBA in the PER-based Estimated Wins Added and sixth in win shares. Bar none, he was the biggest All-Star snub this year. If the Knicks want to add a star next to Carmelo Anthony, Lowry is their best chance.

The Knicks get criticized for undervaluing first-round picks, both future and recent (like Hardaway), and there is some truth to that. But the Knicks aren’t ever interested in building for the future. They want to win now and fill Madison Square Garden in the process. To anyone who hates the NBA’s tanking culture, that’s commendable.

If the Knicks trade a 2018 first rounder and finish in the lottery that year, the season was already a disaster by their standards. To some other teams, getting a lottery pick would be a success in itself, but not to New York. Sure, a high pick would ease the blow, even to the Knicks, but they don’t think that way. They’re all in with their plan.

And if their plan is adding a star, what’s more likely? Rajon Rondo forces a trade to the Knicks or Lowry is as good as he’s playing? I’ll take a chance on the latter.

Lowry has played like a star this season, but nobody, myself included, really considers him a star. His strong season has been attributed to a contract year, a prolonged hot streak and other fleeting factors. Maybe that’s accurate.

But what if Lowry has actually developed into a star point guard? A 2018 first-round pick or Hardaway would be a pittance for acquiring a true star. The risk-reward might justify the Knicks surrendering one of those two.

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A Lowry-to-the-Knicks trade remains unlikely. After all, this has popped up several times this season and gone nowhere.

But, perhaps, this version has a twist that gets it done. Begley:

League sources say a scenario in which Teague ends up in Toronto, Shumpert goes to Atlanta and Lowry winds up in New York has been discussed. Another scenario could have Teague ending up in New York. The conversations are believed to be preliminary.

That would also likely include the Hawks – who have all their first-round picks and the right to swap first-rounders with the Nets in 2014 and 2015 – sending a pick to Toronto.

Given the Raptors’ weariness about offering Lowry a big contract, a trade like that could prove a nice option. Teague would be at least a stop-gap who keeps Toronto in play for the Eastern Conference semifinals, and he’s young enough to offer the chance of developing into an impressive starting point guard, too. Plus, the first-round pick definitely would better-position the Raptors in the long run.

The Knicks would get their man in Lowry, who could push New York – 2.5 games back from the Bobcats for eighth in the East – into the playoffs. Like I said, they’re all-in with their win-now plan.

A key question is how much the Hawks value Shumpert, which would affect what protections they place on the pick. A third team only complicates matters.

Even if the Knicks somehow deal for Lowry before Thursday’s deadline, the complications wouldn’t end. They’d have to re-sign him (and Melo) this summer to justify the move. With an ability to offer more than other teams and exceed the cap, that should be manageable.

But it’s just one more difficulty in an already stretched scenario.

  1. knightrider1755 - Feb 18, 2014 at 10:00 AM

    James Dolan and his dysfunctional organization are pa thetic. Knicks are the richest team in the NBA and have the second highest payroll in the league and they are fighting the Charlotte Bobcats for the opportunity to finish as an 8th seed. Unbelievable.

    • nykfanwakemeupin2015 - Feb 18, 2014 at 12:52 PM

      It really is painful as a Knicks fan. We are def the worst run team in all of sports. This team has talent but its poorly managed.

    • zerole00 - Feb 18, 2014 at 7:18 PM

      I don’t see why people keep saying the Knicks are in win now mode. They’re fighting for an EIGHTH SEED, at best they’re in second round knock out mode.

  2. psubeerman21 - Feb 18, 2014 at 10:46 AM

    Not sure why the Hawks would do the three-way deal mentioned above. Even if you like Shumpert and getting rid of Teague’s salary, paying for it with a pick is a lot to ask. I don’t think any of this happens, only because Shumpert’s value has decreased during the year.

  3. casualcommenter - Feb 18, 2014 at 12:03 PM

    Personally, if I were the Knicks, I’d be less aggressive in sacrificing youth, especially a guy like Hardaway, given that I don’t see anybody on the market that allows the Knicks to close the gap with the Pacers and Heat this year. I’d be patient.

    However, if they really want to try to improve their team this year, Lowry is their best option. In particular, Lowry’s defensive skills would be a valuable addition to a Knicks team with only 1 above average perimeter defender. If the Knicks are forced to give up Hardaway, then a backcourt of Lowry and Shumpert should do pretty well in slowing down opposing guards. Combine that with Tyson Chandler anchoring the defense in the paint, and the Knicks would have a nice foundation for a good defensive team, even if they play Carmelo at power forward more to help their offense.

  4. jtbsteeler - Feb 18, 2014 at 12:20 PM

    Another rumor by with nothing to base it on but a hypothesis. NOthing concrete, just drumming up a theory. This is absolutely not a trade that’s been initiated by the Knicks. No truth to it. This guy is throwing nonsense out there hoping it will stick.

  5. dperk123 - Feb 18, 2014 at 1:42 PM

    He is a better fit for new york instead of rondo

  6. mdobrasz - Feb 18, 2014 at 7:44 PM

    Go home, Knicks, you’re drunk

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