The New York Knicks are still hunting for a veteran point guard, and Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight are two they’re interested in.
According to ESPN’s Ian Begley, the Knicks have talked to the Phoenix Suns about acquiring either Bledsoe or Knight. As their free agency funds have dried up, New York is still hunting for a veteran point guard to start in front of rookie Frank Ntilikina. Either Bledsoe or Knight would be able to fill this role, but it’s unclear what the package would have to consist of for Phoenix to sell.
Begley also pointed out that the Knicks have been in talks about Courtney Lee and Kyle O’Quinn, and they’ve also been trying to work out a deal that sends Carmelo Anthony to the Houston Rockets. For the latter to happen, a third (and maybe fourth team) would need to get involved. Phoenix could be that.
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Of the two Kentucky-bred guards, Bledsoe is the better option. He trumps Knight in every major category. The biggest con surrounding either guy is their durability, and both have missed significant time over the last couple of seasons. In 2016-17, Bledsoe suited up for 66 games and Knight just 54.
Neither suits the typical “veteran” label, but that’s more of a plus than a minus. Bledsoe and Knight turn 28 and 26, respectively, in December, but they already have a wealth of NBA experience and could undoubtedly serve as a great mentor to Ntilikina both by example and by word.
Bledsoe’s heading into his eighth season and is coming off a campaign where he averaged 21.1 points, 6.3 assists and 4.8 rebounds. Knight, because of his injuries, had a significantly smaller role and averaged just 11.0 points and 2.4 assists in 21.1 minutes a game. If the same package can get me either guard, I’m taking Bledsoe. And it’s not even close. Even if I have to give up a little bit more, I’m not changing my mind.
Over the last couple of seasons, Bledsoe has transformed into a very nice player. The play of his contemporaries overshadows him but playing in Phoenix limits a lot of the expectations we have. Moreover, he wasn’t a high lottery pick, and that also takes away from the pressure that we put on a lot of young players. His offense is very well-rounded, and he’s got the score-first mentality that all new-school point guards need. The last year wasn’t a massive jump, but Bledsoe improved, and we saw more aggressiveness than normal. Despite standing about 6-1, Bledsoe is an incredible athlete and one of most explosive guards we have. (Basketball Reference has his nickname as “Mini-LeBron.” I don’t know how many people actually call him that, but he does look a bit like a smaller James — regarding size and strength.)
Knight doesn’t have the explosiveness. Furthermore, I don’t believe he’s a point guard. Knight can play that spot part-time, but, between the two, he’s not the guy you want as your primary facilitator. Not only does he struggle with health, which is something I don’t blame him for, but he also has yet to show he’s a consistent playmaker. On the Knicks, with Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis, their floor general needs to be a solid decision-maker. According to Basketball Reference, Knight had a turnover percentage of 12.9 and Bledsoe was a bit higher at 15.3, which we expect from a higher usage player (28.1 to 25.0). What offsets that is the assist percentages, which was 31.1 for Bledsoe and 17.8 for Knight.
If they wanted a shooting guard in a point guard’s body with no jump shot and laughable defense, they would’ve just re-signed Derrick Rose.
To say New York dropped the ball this offseason would give them too much credit. A slew of guys (George Hill, Jodie Meeks, Jeff Teague) got rather harmless deals and would be more than capable of serving that veteran leadership role. Not for the Knicks, apparently. They went out and spent $71 million on Tim Hardaway Jr. He’s a solid player and could become even more than that, but, in classic Knicks fashion, they didn’t do anything to address their needs. Trading for Bledsoe or Knight has the chance to fix that.
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