The New York Knicks will be at full strength tonight against the visiting Indiana Pacers if R.J. Barrett returns as expected from a right index finger laceration. In six games without him they have gone 5-1, the only loss coming by 4 points against the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday.
Since Dec. 3, they have had an eight-game winning streak, a five-game losing streak and a four-game winning streak. Julius Randle is playing like an All-Star, Jalen Brunson is coming off a career-best 44-point outing, and team president Leon Rose is sitting on four extra first-round draft picks and five extra second-round picks in a league that has a grand total of one trade since Sept. 30. Congratulations, Noah Vonleh.
The fan base is frustrated, which is understandable, given the championship drought that dates to 1973. And the Knicks are most certainly the second-best team in town, trailing a Brooklyn Nets team that is now looking at spending the next 4-6 weeks without Kevin Durant, which removes him from the MVP conversation.
The Knicks are not going to win a championship this year as presently constituted. They are +20000 at most U.S. sportsbooks, which is even longer than the +15000 odds on tonight’s opponent, the overachieving Indiana Pacers.
But does that make then unworthy of anything, wager-wise? Hardly. You merely need to know how to think like a sharp, and put those championship dreams on hold if and until Rose finds this team an upgrade to pair with Randle, Brunson and Barrett.
When news like what we see in the tweet below leaks, it is a signal to general managers around the league that the phone lines are open and offers are being accepted.
Sources: The Knicks are seeking two second-round picks for Cam Reddish.
More on Reddish, Immanuel Quickley, Tim Hardaway Jr and Alec Burks. Plus, why the Lakers and Raptors may make a trade, and what’s next for the Nets without Kevin Durant on @hoopshype. https://t.co/v0cmGdvR2E
— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) January 10, 2023
Who Could The Knicks Realistically Acquire in a Trade?
If you are as experienced of an executive as Rose is, you do not think small. You think big. This is the same guy who got Carmelo Anthony traded to the Knicks a decade and a half ago when he was ‘Melo’s agent, and he knows how the process works.
What Rose and general manager Scott Perry need to do is find a floundering team ready to go into rebuild mode and pluck away a gem who can fit alongside Randle, Barrett and Brunson, the three guys pretty much considered the Knicks’ untouchables. Quentin Grimes is close to being added to that list.
The list of floundering teams is lengthy and begins with the Toronto Raptors and also includes the Charlotte Hornets, Utah Jazz and Portland Trail Blazers. An argument can be made that the Washington Wizards fit that description as well, but general manager Tommy Sheppard is not a tear-it-down type of guy. He has a solid core in Bradley Beal, Kristaps Porzingis, Kyle Kuzma, Daniel Gafford and Rui Hachimura that is the proverbial one year away from being one year away.
But those other teams? Hey, Jusuf Nurkic of Portland is a heck of a center, as is Mason Plumlee of Charlotte despite his free throw peculiarities. Jerami Grant of the 19-21 Blazers is an impending free agent. Jarred Vanderbilt recently lost a starting spot with the Jazz, who have no long-term use for Mike Conley and Jordan Clarkson and could conceivable move those players in some sort of a three-way deal that the Knicks could get in on prior to the Feb. 9 NBA trade deadline. There is leaguewide interest in third-year point guard Immanuel Quickley, who has averaged 20.3 points, 5.3 assists, and 4.9 rebounds through eight games as a starter this season.
The Knicks are currently -115 to make the playoffs, and considering the the Pacers are only one game ahead of them in the standings but have way shorter odds at -160, that is worthy of consideration.
And if not for this Luka Dončić moment, the Knicks and Pacers would be tied.
— nofones (@nofones) December 28, 2022
But in terms of the best Knicks odds in the awards futures markets (only available to New Yorkers who cross state lines and wager in neighboring states), Tom Thibodeau at +3300 for Coach of the Year is enticing. That’s given that the Knicks are in a stretch of 12 straight games against Eastern Conference teams and could easily move up from their current seventh place position. If they finish the season ahead of the Cavs (currently fifth) and Pacers (sixth), they will check the “overachieved” box that voters look for when casting that particular ballot.
Tom Thibodeau hits 100 win milestone https://t.co/r7HChRThKk
— Posting and Toasting (@ptknicksblog) January 10, 2023
The Nets Now That Durant Is On The Shelf
Well, for starters, you can rip up those Durant for MVP tickets that you may be holding. They go in the Breece Hall file. A sprained medial collateral ligament is not a minor injury, and with the NBA regular season rendered mostly meaningless because 20 of the 30 teams make the playoffs or the play-in, why exactly should Brooklyn rush this guy back before the Feb. 19 All-Star game?
Durant’s injury also likely means that Jacque Vaughn’s status as the leading Coach of the Year candidate (he is +180 at Bet365.com) is likely nearing an end. Joe Mazzulla of Boston is right behind him at +225. But the guy who replaced Ime Udoka has a team that reached the NBA Finals last season. So it’s not like he is some sort of miracle worker.
The Nets to win the Atlantic Division is priced at +340, with Boston at -550 heading into Thursday night’s meeting between the teams in Brooklyn, the Celtics holding a 1 1/2-game edge. Philadelphia, which is getting triple-doubles in bunches from James Harden as Joel Embiid looms as a sneaky +1600 MVP bet, is +1400 to win the Atlantic at 3 1/2 games back.
The Nets player who looms as a viable award pick is center Nicolas Claxton for Defensive Player of the Year, although he appears to be off the radar in a poll of likely voters done by NBA.com. He is at +750 at FanDuel, Bet MGM and Bet 365, and he is in a virtual tie with Milwaukee’s Brook Lopez for the league lead in blocks at 2.6 per game.
Nicolas Claxton | Brooklyn Nets Secret Weapon https://t.co/lSOqkCUZcL via @YouTube
— Ahanefer (@ahanefer) January 10, 2023
So, The Best Knicks-Nets bet is …
Well, player props on any given night are one way to go, and riding the hot hands of Randle and Brunson and putting some faith in Kyrie Irving to become more offensively dominant all make sense.
But from an exclusively Knicks/Nets perspective, if you like both Thibodeau for COY and Claxton for DPOY and parlay them, a $10 wager would pay $2,880. It ain’t MegaMillions, but it ain’t bad.
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