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OpportuKNICKstic: New York reinforces rotation during mostly dormant deadline


(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

An unconventional 2023-24 NBA trade deadline is now in the rearview mirror. After a few years of rapid player movement across "the association", a front-loaded transaction period culminated unceremoniously Thursday with few contenders making splash moves.

The three most noteworthy trades of the season happened well before the deadline. The Clippers, currently in a tight four-horse race atop the Western Conference, added James Harden in November, the second time in the last four seasons that the former MVP was dealt during the first month of the season. The trade market was largely quiet until the Raptors began a Canadian firesale, shipping OG Anunoby to the Knicks and Pascal Siakam to the Raptors, cutting ties with the final remnants of their 2019 title-winning roster.

On deadline day itself though, few teams took advantage of a final chance to revamp their rosters for the stretch run. The Philadelphia 76ers, despite the loss of Joel Embiid to a meniscus injury, acquired guard Buddy Hield from Indiana. It seems like a transaction period can never pass without rumors of the former Sooner on the market.

Many of the Western Conference contenders appeared content with complacency. The Lakers and Warriors, both dancing along the postseason bubble, stayed stagnant. Teams deeper in the race kept the same philosophy, with the most notable moves happening in Oklahoma City and Dallas. The Thunder added veteran Gordon Hayward to bring some postseason experience to their exceptionally inexperienced roster, while the Mavericks also negotiated with the Hornets, bringing in PJ Washington, who scored a career-high 43 points just last week.

Perhaps the standings and the rules were contributors to these decisions by many franchises, but one team refused to sit idly by: the New York Knicks. Just one month after cutting ties with both RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley to add defensive and three-point stalwart wing OG Anunoby, the Knickerbockers made the most underrated move of the deadline, acquiring Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks from the last place Detroit Pistons. New York didn't give up much, maintaining all of their first round picks, and sacrificing Quentin Grimes, who while talented, wasn't necessarily a focal point of the future, and Evan Fournier, who had appeared in just 30 games since the beginning of last season.

The 34 year-old Bogdanovic is no stranger to the postseason, and is averaging 20.2 points per game on 41.5% shooting from three-point range, both ranking second for his career. Burks returns to Tom Thibodeau and the Knicks after being part of the 2020-21 team that made the playoffs, scoring 27 points in New York's first playoff game in eight years against the Atlanta Hawks three years ago.

While both shooters are on the backend of their respective careers, they are precisely what the Knicks needed. As compliments to a rotation anchored by all-stars Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle, with Anunoby, Josh Hart, and Isaiah Hartenstein among the supporting cast, the Knicks are suddenly one of the deepest teams in the league, and their roster has postseason experience aplenty.

With the Sixers and Heat fading, the Celtics showing vulnerabilities all season long, the Bucks still dealing with their unexpected midseason coaching transition, and the Cavaliers once again motionless at the deadline, the New York Knicks have truly maximized their opportunity to contend this spring. It should be a fun next couple of months at Madison Square Garden.

Stay tuned for a new episode of Sports Speak Live Friday that will delve deeper into the deadline.

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