Knicks further commit to the future with trade for Maurice Harkless
On Thursday at the trade deadline, the New York Knicks finalized a deal with the Los Angeles Clippers to deal Marcus Morris Sr. for Maurice Harkless and a 2020 1st round draft pick. The trade comes on the heels of the team parting ways with former President of Basketball Operations, Steve Mills. The Knicks were expected to try to obtain another player, but nearing the deadline, the team seemed silent. Allegedly, there was a possible deal on the table to land Kyle Kuzma of the Los Angeles Lakers, but in the end New York went for Harkless. The former St. John’s player, Harkless is no stranger to New York and the move is a sort of welcome home for him. However, the front office may have bigger plans than just obtaining the forward.
Why this trade now?
Of all the trades that happened on Thursday, this one was more of a head scratcher. Morris had played well for the Knicks, averaging 19.6 points per game in the midst of a disappointing season. Harkless, on the other hand, was playing a lesser role with the Clippers, who boasted the star power of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. In his limited capacity, Harkless averaged just under 5 points per game. However, his perimeter defense has been the most notable part of his game. Even still, he doesn’t seem to be a player that New York can necessarily build around.
From a player verse player standpoint, the deal doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. However, the exchange of a draft pick balances out the equation. The Knicks have been not so quietly accumulating draft picks in recent years. With this new addition, the team will have a first round pick in 2020, 2021, and 2023, along with a host of second round picks. Clearly, the team’s focus is to build through the draft in recognition that they aren’t winning now. While Morris was doing great for the team, the overall poor performance of New York made his efforts futile. Thus, for both sides this deal had some sense. Still, there is a flaw that the Knicks don’t seem to be considering.
The Fans Want to Win
The idea of building through the draft seems logical. However, the Knicks should be weary of remaining stuck in a rebuild. Such an outcome has befallen the likes of teams such as the Sacremento Kings, who have been rebuilding for the better part of the decade. The reality is that teams need stars to win, and quite frankly the Knicks don’t have one. Moreover, aside from Mitchell Robinson, there hasn’t seemed to be much, if any, development of the team’s young players. Thus, while the focus on the draft is paramount, the Knicks need a more sustainable option if they want to leave.
The jury is out on whether or not this was the right move for the Knicks. The fact remains that Maurice Harkless will be joining the Knicks and he’s bringing a future draft pick with him. New York’s plan is clearly to build through draft in hopes of fostering the talent of the game’s next crop of young stars. However, to create a sustainable plan to win, the Knicks need to figure out how to land a star player, or develop one all their own. Until then, New York will remain in mediocrity, watching other teams advance while they stay stagnant.
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