Buddy Hield
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

The New York Knicks have enough cap space and assets that trading for Buddy Hield is an avenue worth pursuing.

Josh Benjamin

Picture Buddy Hield in a New York Knicks uniform.

It’s certainly an exciting and interesting prospect. The Knicks are currently 28th in the NBA in three-point percentage and need a better offense next season. Hield, meanwhile, has shot 41% from three in his young career.

It won’t be easy acquiring Hield. He’s currently with the Sacramento Kings, who acquired him in the DeMarcus Cousins trade in 2017. Moreover, Hield signed a four-year, $106 million extension with the team back in October.

But just like politics, a week in basketball is a lifetime and a lot has changed since Hield signed his new deal. The Knicks finally fired Steve Mills and hired former player agent Leon Rose as the new president of basketball operations. After two decades of futility, a proper fresh start could finally be on the horizon.

Buddy Hield, however, is reportedly frustrated with his situation in Sacramento. If Rose wants to start his New York tenure with a bang, he should seriously consider trading for the star shooter.

Sulking in Sacramento

First, some context. On Wednesday, a report from Shams Charania, Sam Amick and Jason Jones of The Athletic suggested a soap opera unfolding in Sacramento.

Let’s start with Buddy Hield himself. He is averaging 20.4 points and five rebounds per game, shooting 43.1% from the field and 38.5% from long range. Yet, he was recently moved to the bench in favor of Bojan Bogdanovic. Per The Athletic, Hield was “irritated” by this decision.

Hield’s trust in Kings coach Luke Walton also appears to have eroded over the course of the season. Between his new role off the bench and Sacramento’s 21-33 record, Hield certainly is in a frustrating situation.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Sacramento’s future is also in flux thanks to the growing divide between general manager Vlade Divac and owner Vivek Ranadive. Divac’s record has been defined by playoff droughts and underachieving, and a new face may want to remake the team.

The point is… be it through a leadership change or an outright request, a Buddy Hield trade could be coming soon.

Reborn in New York?

Now, let’s talk about the New York Knicks and Leon Rose’s role. He has the opportunity to rebuild the team to fit today’s game better than Steve Mills ever could. New York has cap space and draft picks galore, so trading for a player of Buddy Hield’s stature is certainly possible.

Granted, a lot of this depends on who Rose hires to coach the Knicks, but the idea of Hield being traded to the Knicks makes sense on paper. The best part is New York wouldn’t have to part with RJ Barrett or Mitchell Robinson, both potential franchise cornerstones, in the deal.

Think about it. The NBA is now a scorer’s game where the scoring point guard is king. New York will almost certainly take a point man with their lottery pick in June. Be it LaMelo Ball or Nico Mannion, having a proven scorer in Buddy Hield takes some of the pressure off as they develop their own games.

Worth the risk?

Overall, Hield’s numbers make sense for a Knicks team needing modernizing. He’s averaged 20.6 points and shot 40.8% from downtown the last two years.

The deeper numbers, however, leave something to be desired. Hield’s Win Shares Per 48 Minutes (WS/48) are just 0.68 this season, below the league average of .100. Hield has also always been a defensive liability, owning a career DBPM of -1.9.

But these numbers are a textbook example of why context is important. He started his career with the New Orleans Pelicans, where he wasn’t a good fit, and then went right to the hot mess Sacramento Kings.

That said, Leon Rose and the New York Knicks would be foolish to not engage in trade talks with the Kings. Let’s say trade talks initiated before this year’s NBA Draft. New York could easily offer a package centered around Kevin Knox and Frank Ntilikina. Even Julius Randle could be a consideration.

The Knicks can also offer multiple draft picks, namely the first-rounder acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers in the Marcus Morris trade. The team also got a pair of first-round picks from the Dallas Mavericks in the Kristaps Porzingis trade.

The assets are there to make a trade for Buddy Hield happen, and the Knicks would be wise to pull the trigger on talks.

Final thoughts

This is obviously all speculative and the New York Knicks have not spoken to the Kings at all about Buddy Hield, at least not publicly. For now, the trade deadline is passed. Come the offseason, the Knicks will probably look for a new coach before tinkering with the roster.

But none of that takes away from the fact that Buddy Hield on the Knicks makes sense. Him wearing a Knicks uniform is up there with peanut butter and jelly; bagels and cream cheese; Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar; a perfect fit.

Plus, Hield being a Knick would just be the beginning. Imagine what trading for him could do for New York’s luck in free agency. If Hield is somehow with New York before July, signing Anthony Davis suddenly seems easier.

One way or another, Leon Rose and the Knicks owe it to themselves to inquire about Hield. Even if Sacramento isn’t looking to deal him, another team may be willing to trade a similar player.

The point is Buddy Hield is the type of player the Knicks have needed for years. If they can trade for him, New York’s long basketball darkness may finally see a new day dawn.

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