Sources: Knicks and Nets have done background work on potential trade target Zach LaVine

This story is actually older than the most recent Thibs hiring story, but all the other new stories are either hagiographies about how great the Thibs hire was or hit pieces about how bad the Thibs hire was, and I think we’ve already exhausted our debates about Thibs before COVID-19 even hit, let alone now, so I didn’t feel like posting any of those articles. So how about a “Should the Knicks trade for Player X?” article. Those are sometimes fun.

From the great Ian Begley:

Before Leon Rose took over as Knicks president, he was a top player agent at CAA. Because of Rose’s past role, there’s been plenty of speculation about the Knicks trading for a player with CAA ties.

The New York Post reported earlier this month that Suns star Devin Booker was the player to “watch out for most” as a potential trade target among Rose’s former clients.

Following Donovan Mitchell’s public frustration with teammate Rudy Gobert, there was fan/media speculation about Mitchell, a CAA client, getting traded to New York. But there are plenty of factors that suggest that neither Miller nor Booker will be traded anytime soon.

Mitchell is eligible for a max contract extension from the Utah Jazz this summer and would be a restricted free agent in the summer of 2021. Booker has four years remaining on his current deal in Phoenix.

Usually, a team doesn’t even consider trading a young star player until he gets close to free agency.

So if we’re speculating about potential trades, it’s more realistic to look at top players who are approaching free agency.

The 2021 free agency class is formidable. If you include players with player options for either 2020 or 2021, the list of free agents next summer (or fall) includes Giannis Antetokounmpo, Anthony Davis, LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard and Victor Oladipo. The potential free agent class of 2022 is strong, too. Players who could be free agents that summer include Paul George, Bradley Beal, Zach LaVine, Aaron Gordon and Jrue Holiday.

We bring that up because those players are more likely to be traded than a player like Mitchell or Booker. And it’s worth noting that both the Knicks and the Nets are among the teams who have been monitoring LaVine’s situation in Chicago. Per SNY sources, both teams have done background work on LaVine to be prepared for the possibility that Chicago ends up listening to trade offers on the 25-year-old guard.

LaVine averaged 25.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.5 steals last season for the Bulls. He hit 38 percent of his 3-point attempts and 49.7 percent of his two-point attempts.

It’s fair to say that the Bulls, who have a new team president in Arturas Karsinovas, have yet to find a long-term solution on the coaching sidelines nor have they been successful in surrounding LaVine with talent in recent years. If that instability continues, would LaVine look to leave Chicago when he hits free agency? If so, the Bulls would probably be open to trading him instead of losing him for nothing.

This is what teams like the Knicks and Nets are keeping an eye on with LaVine and the Bulls. Beal and the Wizards, to a certain extent, fit the same profile. With regard to New York and Brooklyn, both teams have the assets to swing a trade for a young, talented player like LaVine.

The Knicks have seven first-round picks over the next four drafts and some young players who are attractive to opposing teams. The Nets have young players on team-friendly contracts (Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, Jarrett Allen among them) and are believed to be in the market to trade for a top player to play alongside Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. The New York Daily New previously reported that the Nets had internal discussions about Beal, a player who can test free agency as early as 2022. You can add LaVine to the list of players that they are monitoring.

It will be interesting to see how both New York teams approach the trade market in the coming months. Similar to free agency in 2019 – when the Nets signed Durant and Irving — they may find themselves competing for the same players.

No thanks on Lavine, but I’ll give Beal this much. He’s one of those guys who you could at least flip for good players if you ever did trade for him. In other words, he’s the type of player that every team could use. Because of that, he would cost too much for it to make sense for the Knicks (especially since they could just sign him in 2022), but I just want to note that there is a huge difference between Bradley Beal and Lavine. Studs like Beal are never going to be like Julius Randle where you acquire them and then it’s like, “Oh, I guess people didn’t actually want this guy, huh?”