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Eastern Conference prospect hoping for ‘big’ trade this offseason

The New York Knicks’ season ended less than 24 hours ago, but they are already thinking of ways to continue their Cinderella season.

While New York now undoubtedly has two stars under contract thanks to the evolution of Jalen Brunson, the Knicks are “still targeting next summer as the time to trade for the next big name,” according to Fred Katz of The Athletic.

Knicks hoping for ‘big’ trade this offseason

As the 2023-2024 season draws to a close, the dust has settled, making the situation facing several teams clear. For the Knicks, sifting through the sediment may be the best way to acquire a third star. If so, there are at least four teams that could be trading partners in a blockbuster deal.

In the East, the most fascinating options are the Cleveland Cavaliers and Brooklyn Nets.

Donovan Mitchell

Following their second-round exit, Donovan Mitchell’s future was put in the spotlight. He has been linked to the Knicks for years because of his connections in New York. However, now that Mitchell is miffed about how much the Cavs relied on him, he may look for a team that won’t require so much heavy lifting from him. That does not mean that he no longer has the will to take over matches. Only that he recognizes the truth; If he has to be a superhero every game, his team won’t have a good enough team around him.

That said, Mitchell could become a free agent next season. If he and the Cavs don’t come to a contract agreement soon, they could read the tea leaves and push him out before he leaves them. Such a scenario could lead him to the Knicks, who could offer a trade package that includes Mitchell Robinson, Bojan Bogdanovic and first-round picks.

Mikal Bridges

The Nets have fewer reasons to trade their face in the franchise, even if he played below expectations in 2023-2024. Until then, Brooklyn is already trying to build around Mikal Bridges as a foundation piece. Averaging 21.2 points and 1.0 steals per game on 37.3 percent shooting from 3 since being traded to the Knicks, Bridges has developed into a top-tier two-way player.

That’s one reason he would turn to New York, as they don’t have elite players on either side. However, the ‘Nova Knicks’ could also continue to improve their chemistry with a Bridges trade. Bridges, another Villanova product, was a teammate of Brunson, Josh Hart and Donte DiVincenzo.

A city of stars

With the ever-popular franchise taking its place among the East’s top teams, quite a few of them could be adding New York to their list of favorite destinations. After all, it is a glamorous city that has a lot to offer everyone, but especially the rich and famous. Until then, there are two stars who could leave their team as free agents this offseason: LeBron James and Paul George.

With a sign-and-trade, the Knicks might be able to acquire one of James or George in what would be the biggest splash this summer.

Le Bron James

James has expressed interest in playing for the Knicks all the way back to 2010. What makes New York attractive in this scenario, however, is that a head-to-head comparison with the Los Angeles Lakers favors the Knicks.

New York will have the better coach; someone who brought a special kind of toughness to the team. Furthermore, acquiring James would give them a Big 3, a model the Lakers have been reluctant to adapt. Anthony Davis has the edge over Julius Randle in production and defense, but not in availability or scoring versatility. Brunson is a more reliable scorer and leader than any point guard in the LeBron era in LA, the offseason that James himself was the point guard. Finally, consider that the Knicks finished the 2023-2024 regular season with more wins than the Lakers.

In the famous words of ESPN pundit Brian Windhorst, “Why is that?”

Paul George

George hasn’t shown nearly as much fascination with the Knicks as James has. Nevertheless, he fits New York’s needs even better from a positional perspective, as he can play both wing positions.

While James can technically play any position, George is a more natural two-guard because of his ball-handling and shooting ability. That said, while James would likely spend the majority of his minutes in the forward spots, George can comfortably play alongside Brunson in the backcourt. This is ideal because both Hart and OG Anunoby are primarily small forwards.

In that same vein, George is a better fit because of the perimeter defense he will provide. Again, James is incapable of doing this. However, he will turn 40 at the beginning of next season; his overall activity and mobility are both behind the California native.

Whether the Knicks can convince George to agree to a sign-and-trade may ultimately come down to money. If they clear the cap space, at least they’ll get his attention.