By John Schmeelk
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The trade deadline hits on Thursday and Knicks fans are excited about a move that might catapult their team back into the playoff picture.
But here's the bad news: it's likely not happening.
Why? No one is willing to give up anyone of any significance for any Knicks players not named Kristaps Porzingis, Carmelo Anthony, or Robin Lopez.
Coincidentally, that's also the same reason the Knicks are nine games below .500 and five games out the final Eastern Conference playoff spot. Their supporting cast simply isn't very good. They have a variety of players of different ages and on different contracts that theoretically give them options, but does anyone like their talent enough?
Jose Calderon is a minus in any deal. The Knicks could literally offer him to teams with cap space for nothing and they would say no. Arron Afflalo is 30 years old and in decline. He can opt out of his two-year deal after the season is over. Derrick Williams, likewise, has an opt out, reducing his value to the point that you would not get much for him in a trade.
Conversely, if teams are looking for expiring contracts the potential second-year options might scare them off. After many people (me included) thought Kyle O'Quinn might be the steal off the offseason, he looks more like an overpaid player on an outsized contract that still has three years left. Kevin Seraphin and Sasha Vujacic aren't even good enough to be in the Knicks' rotation on a consistent basis.
Lance Thomas and Langston Galloway have some value, but they are two of the Knicks that are actually still committed on the defensive end every night. Both are also free agents after the season, though their rights can be retained for relatively small cap holds. With both being young, it doesn't make a lot of sense to trade them unless you get good, young talent back, which is probably not going to happen.
Cleanthony Early is young but also a fringe roster player with limited upside.
Jerian Grant has some value for the Knicks, but moving him now would be selling him on the cheap. He was the Knicks' second first-round pick last year, but like many point guards do, he has struggled coming out of school. His value is lower that it was when he was drafted, and if the Knicks still believe he can develop into a starter down the road, moving him would not make a lot of sense.
We all know Anthony has a no-trade clause and Porzingis is untouchable. Lopez could get some value back, but Porzingis isn't ready to be a starting center yet. At this point next season, we might be able to have a different conversation if Porzingis develops enough from a physical standpoint. But unless you can get a significant future piece for Lopez, trading him now would hurt more than help the team in the short term.
The sad fact is there isn't a move out there that will make a significant enough difference to put the Knicks into the playoff race. The Knicks aren't good enough and no one on the roster has the value or is expendable enough to fetch a talent that would put them over the top. Trading draft picks is not an option.
Much like this offseason, finding a point guard should be on top of the Knicks' list of needs. They don't have anyone good enough to fetch Jeff Teague from the Hawks over the next 24 hours.
Brandon Jennings was just traded to the Magic.
Ty Lawson is talented, but also a train wreck. He has a lot of issues to work out before he can be a leader of an NBA team.
According to the Daily News, Ricky Rubio is available, but the Knicks would be hard-pressed to assemble a package good enough to land him.
In short, the Knicks are stuck. They don't have enough assets to land a player that can help them get into the playoffs. The players they can trade to make a future impact have a no-trade clause (Anthony) or are too valuable to move (Lopez). You might see a minor move, but nothing that will get Knicks fans excited. It's probably going to be a boring couple of days.
For everything Knicks, Giants, and the world of sports, follow John on Twitter at @Schmeelk
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