December 15 is just over a week away, meaning several new trade candidates will be entering the market, and trade rumors are beginning to heat up. And after a brief pause, the San Antonio Spurs are reportedly back on the trade market looking for potential suitors for Jakob Poeltl, Josh Richardson, and Doug McDermott.
Among other teams beginning to appear in more trade rumors is the New York Knicks. Earlier this morning, the Athletic's Fred Katz reported that the Knicks are exploring trades with Evan Fournier, Cam Reddish, and Immanuel Quickley. Only hours later, the New York Daily News' Stefan Bondy reported that the Knicks and Reddish's representatives are working toward a trade. The young forward has averaged 8.4 points, 1.6 rebounds, 1 assist, and 0.8 steals per game in just under 22 minutes per game but has recently fallen out of the Knicks' rotation under Tom Thibodeau.
If what you're reading here sounds a bit familiar, it's because I was advocating for the Spurs to target Reddish in a trade last season when he was still an Atlanta Hawk. Today I'm back with yet another trade proposal that would result in Reddish being shipped to San Antonio, but this time involving the New York Knicks. So, let's not waste any time: here's what a potential trade could look like.
Why the New York Knicks accept this trade
The Knicks are in a semi-precarious spot in their efforts to become a clear-cut competitor again for a growing list of reasons and, at least for now, they seem to be bound to end up somewhere in the middle of the pack. No team wants to be sitting in basketball purgatory, so if the Knicks want to compete while keeping most of the current roster intact, then they absolutely must offload some of their bad contracts. These bad contracts include those of Derrick Rose and Evan Fournier, which are costing the team roughly $14.5 million and $18 million this season, respectively.
This trade is predicated on the Knicks' strong desire to offload those contracts while giving away as little draft capital as possible. The Athletic's Fred Katz noted in his earlier report that the Knicks would be willing to part ways with one of Reddish or Immanuel Quickley in order to accomplish such a trade involving Fournier. Keeping in mind that both Fournier and Reddish have fallen out of Coach Thibodeau's rotation, the Knicks would essentially be trading two non-rotation players for a reliable 3-and-D wing (Richardson), a decent young wing defender (Langford), and a potential 1st round pick.
Could another team swoop in and overpay the Knicks to land Reddish? Possibly, but if the Knicks aren't finding many other takers for a bad contract like Fournier's, this may be the best deal they can find. Considering that the Knicks may also be hoarding draft capital to use in a superstar trade, adding another pick into the mix through this trade would be a massive win for them.
Why the San Antonio Spurs accept this trade
At first glance, one may think that this is a bit of an overpay for the Spurs, and I wouldn't blame you if you thought that same thing. It's well within the realm of possibility that the Spurs turn their nose up at the idea of taking on a bad contract and giving away a potential 1st round pick.
But if the Spurs are playing the long game, this trade could sneakily be a good deal for both teams involved. Recent intel from SpursTalk's LJ Cryer suggests that the Spurs are asking for a 1st round pick in return for Josh Richardson, and while that's certainly a reasonable goal, it's also reasonable to entertain the possibility that the Spurs won't be able to find a team willing to part with such an asset for Richardson.
And even if they do find a team willing to part with a pick, its value will highly depend on the depth of the draft it's in, whether or not it has protections attached, and the likelihood that it ends up conveying late in the 1st round. While it's easy to forget, being that his first few seasons haven't been optimal for his development, Reddish is a former lottery pick that is still only 23 years old. If he's given a consistent role--particularly on a team that desperately needs shot creation--he may end up being more valuable than a late 1st round pick two or three seasons from now.
Shifting toward Evan Fournier, while his contact undoubtedly doesn't look great when factoring in his production, he's far from being a lost cause. Having just turned 30 years old, he's less than a full year older than Josh Richardson, brings good size at roughly 6'7", and is a career 38% three-point shooter. It's entirely possible that the Spurs can return Fournier to form and garner more draft capital for him in a couple of seasons when his contract is closer to expiring.
So, in essence, even if the Spurs were to trade both Fournier and Reddish a few seasons after acquiring them, they could easily surpass the current value of Richardson and Langford if all goes well. But what could put a wrench in that plan, and what I consider to be the biggest swing factor in this trade, is Charlotte's 1st round pick.
The pick is heavily protected--it will convey to the Hornets in the 2023 NBA Draft if it's the 16th overall pick or higher, and it will convey to the Hornets in the 2024 and 2025 NBA Draft if it's the 14th overall pick or higher. If the pick does not convey to the Spurs in the 1st round of the next three drafts, it will convey as a 2nd round pick in both the 2026 and 2027 NBA Draft.
In other words, there is no guarantee yet that the Spurs will be getting a 1st round pick from Charlotte, especially considering how badly the Hornets have been playing. If the Spurs are confident that the pick will convey to them in the 1st round at any point, the team will likely refuse to include it in a trade. But if the Spurs think it will only convey as a pair of 2nd round picks years from now, this could be a good opportunity for the team to trade it while it still holds value. Trading it soon would be a bit of a gamble, but it could be the difference between the Knicks accepting or declining the offer.