With the NBA’s trade deadline approaching, the New York Knicks have been active on the trade front. After acquiring OG Anunoby from the Toronto Raptors about a month ago, the Knicks have played very well.
There’s been talk of the club needing a backcourt playmaker capable of running the offense when Jalen Brunson sits while also co-existing with Brunson as an additional shot-creator to keep the offense humming.
Earlier this week, SNY’s Ian Begley reported that the Knicks have considerable interest in Alec Burks and Bruce Brown. He also mentioned Utah Jazz guards Jordan Clarkson and Collin Sexton whose names have been in the rumor mill but might have high asking prices.
With those names tied to the Knicks, it’s a good time to look at how these four players would fit with the Knicks in a possible trade, from easiest to hardest.
A former Knick, Burks is the easiest fit for a potential trade. He is on an expiring $10.4 million contract, and the Knicks have to send out $5.4 million in salary for a trade. The Knicks can send Evan Fournier’s $19 million salary and take on Burks as well as another player such as Kevin Knox to make the salaries match.
Burks is a safe acquisition. He won’t cost the significant haul of Quentin Grimes and New York’s collection of first-round picks. Burks has been one of the more consistent isolation scorers in the NBA over the past several years and has shot at least 40 percent from the three-point line in the last four seasons.
The 32-year-old started at point guard for much of the 2021-22 season with the Knicks but is better in more of a complementary role where he can create shots for himself. Off to a slow start this season in Detroit, Burks has warmed up as of late. He’s had scoring nights of 34 and 33 in January, averaging 19.3 points off the bench this month.
Brown made mini headlines when he told The New York Post that he thinks he is the type of player Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau likes. Brown is a hard-nosed defender, capable of guarding multiple positions.
Brown can fill several different roles. He’s been a screener and short pick-and-roll attacker with the Brooklyn Nets, a nominal point guard and sixth man with the Denver Nuggets, and a wing with the Indiana Pacers and Toronto Raptors.
Offensively, Brown has improved as an outside marksman, but he’s having a down year (32.4 percent from three). The 6-foot-4 guard is a capable shot creator as he showed at times during Denver’s NBA championship run, but not the most efficient or explosive of the group.
In the second year of a four-year, $72 million contract, Sexton’s trade price has to be on the rise. The 6-foot-3 guard has helped lead Utah to a 9-4 record in January while averaging 21.4 points on 52.7 percent from the field and 45.3 percent from the three-point line. He’s also been an effective decision-maker, averaging 5.5 assists. Sexton could double as a sixth man but also play with Brunson in the backcourt.
Sexton has thrived in a starting role and with the great value on his contract, Utah would be looking for a haul for the guard. For both Sexton and Clarkson, Utah is in an interesting position. The Jazz are competing for a playoff spot at 10th place in the West, but have a young nucleus including 20-year-old point guard Keyonte George and 2022 lottery pick Ochai Agbaji. Either way, both players would likely require Grimes and draft compensation.
Clarkson signed a three-year, $55 contract renegotiation and extension. He’s owed about $28.3 million over the next two seasons. One of the best bench scorers in the NBA over the last several years, Clarkson won the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award in 2022 and would provide an offensive boost to a struggling Knicks bench.
Clarkson has added playmaking elements to his game. Last season, he set a career-high in assists (4.4 per game) and he’s on pace to top that mark this year. Per NBA Stats, the Jazz have allowed fewer points on defense when Clarkson’s off the floor the last two seasons. However, Clarkson has also shown some improvement on the defensive end from earlier in his career. He’ll never be a lockdown defender, but if he’s average and committed, that would be enough.