Intriguing Knicks response could provide Victor Oladipo, Lonzo Ball trade clue

Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau, rumored to be clamoring for the team to make a trade at the March 25 deadline, said he understands the balance needed when a club is regarded as being in a rebuilding

Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau, rumored to be clamoring for the team to make a trade at the March 25 deadline, said he understands the balance needed when a club is regarded as being in a rebuilding phase.

At 21-21, the Knicks are tied for fifth place in the Eastern Conference and have exceeded expectations. But Thibodeau sounded like he also knows there’s no urgency to give up young assets for a veteran to help a playoff push.

The Knicks have kept Houston combo guard Victor Oladipo on their radar, but a report stated the Rockets are asking for a multiple assets. Oladipo will be a free agent after the season and could be signed this summer without giving away a thing.

Thibodeau even downplayed the notion his philosophy is playoffs-or-bust.

“It’s important for us to go step-by-step and not skip over things,’’ Thibodeau said. “The whole goal this year is to build a foundation and the right type of habits. Wherever that leads us, it leads us. Our players have responded. In this league, you’re always looking for player development first, then look at the draft and free agency, then trades. You never stop working in all four areas. Every day it’s how can we make the team better. That’s where our focus lies with coaches, front office and players. We’re all tied together. We’re going to do what’s best for the Knicks.’’

Victor Oladipo (l) and Lonzo Ball could be Knicks trade targets.
AP

The Knicks coach cautioned that team president Leon Rose still might stand pat. One rising star who could go on the trade market is Pelicans point guard Lonzo Ball, but he also will be a restricted free agent this summer. The Post has reported Ball would have the Knicks high on his radar. LaVar Ball, his father, is on record hoping for a trade out of New Orleans.

“One, that would be a Leon question,’’ Thibodeau said. “I think it’s that time of the year where a million things get talked about. Oftentimes everything is talked about and nothing happens. With social media [giving] attention to everything that’s going on, players get used to that stuff. It’s hard on them too. You just got to stay focused.

“I love our team. Leon, Wes [William Wesley] and Scott [Perry] have a job to do. At the end of the day, if something can make the team better, we’ll consider it. If not, we love the guys we have.’’

The buyout market could turn interesting if Cavaliers center Andre Drummond is a free agent, but the Knicks are about to get starter Mitchell Robinson back. The Spurs’ LaMarcus Aldridge is on the trading block, but a source said there’s mutual disinterest as he essentially plays Julius Randle’s power-forward position.


PG Derrick Rose is back with the team, but will miss his eighth straight game as he still has to pass more NBA COVID-19 protocols. Thibodeau said the other day Rose was “feeling a lot better.’’ Players who have tested positive must pass certain workouts to make sure they are healthy.


The point-guard position could be boosted Sunday. Elfrid Payton was upgraded to questionable with a hamstring strain and Immanuel Quickley (ankle) also is questionable. Meanwhile, there’s a push to get Austin Rivers back. After the birth of his child Friday, Rivers is now in safety protocols to rejoin the Knicks.

This story originally appeared on: NyPost - Author:Marc Berman

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