While little remains known about Leon Rose and his approach to serving as the Knicks’ president, apparently satisfying his ego was not the reason he moved from being one of the most powerful agents in the game to the front-office role.
More than a year removed from his appointment to the job, Rose went through his first trade deadline Thursday and conducted himself with the same quiet, patient approach that he took through the offseason moves of assembling the team. One minor deal was all the tinkering he did, creating a plan and sticking to it while stars moved around the rosters of teams, including some of the teams battling the Knicks for playoff positioning.
The Knicks became part of a three-team deal, sending Austin Rivers to Oklahoma City and Iggy Brazdeikis to Philadelphia while bringing in 22-year-old wing Terrance Ferguson, French 7-footer Vincent Poirier and Philadelphia’s 2021 second-round pick. Guard George Hill was sent by the Thunder to the 76ers and Philadelphia sent center Tony Bradley to Oklahoma City as other components of the deal.
The 76ers will send the Knicks the Heat’s 2024 second-round pick, protected up to No. 55, and the draft rights to 33-year-old Turkish guard/forward Emir Preldžić. Poirier will be waived by the Knicks, opening a roster spot.
The Knicks were content to maintain flexibility and assets for the summer rather than overpay now. But they will monitor the buyout market and can have up to $60 million in cap room this summer.
"Leon and his staff did an unbelievable job," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "They had a plan that was very well thought out. There was a number of possible opportunities and I thought they were very disciplined. We love the team we have. So it worked out well for us.
"As a head coach, you want to see all the possibilities, and Leon is very inclusive. Everyone has a voice. That’s all you can ask for. But I really respect and admire the discipline to follow the plan and to weigh everything out and determine if it makes sense or not. For us, it’s building the foundation, going step by step, and if something can help us, then we would certainly consider it, and he did. But it was very well executed, so I was very pleased with that."
Some of the Knicks’ competitors fighting for a playoff spot made major moves — Chicago dealt for Nikola Vucevic, Miami acquired Victor Oladipo and Boston got Evan Fournier.
"I love our team," Thibodeau said. "[We’re] watching what others are doing . . . We did what was best for us. That’s what we concern ourselves with. We’ll concentrate on our daily improvement and go from there."
The Knicks talked with New Orleans about acquiring point guard Lonzo Ball, and a source indicated they were involved in discussions of a three-team deal, using their cap space to try to facilitate a trade of Kyle Lowry from Toronto to the Lakers. But neither deal was consummated and the Knicks were left continuing to accrue assets and hoping to hit it big down the road. Lowry, who was thought to have played his last game with the Raptors, instead will stay put after turning 35 on Thursday.
Some of the other prime targets for the Knicks were traded, including JJ Redick, who had hoped to move from New Orleans to a Northeast team but was dealt to Dallas.
One player who still could land at Madison Square Garden is center Andre Drummond, whom Cleveland could not deal away. Drummond is expected to negotiate a buyout and the Knicks, with their cap space, could provide him with a landing spot not only for this season but for the future. The Lakers and Nets also are expected to pursue Drummond. He would be an upgrade in offensive talent and rebounding for the Knicks, but his style of play conflicts with the strengths of Julius Randle and RJ Barrett.
The Knicks signed Rivers as a free agent before training camp. An injury kept him sidelined through training camp, and after a few brief highlights, he was moved out of the rotation when the Knicks traded for Derrick Rose. Rivers has not been with the Knicks since the All-Star break while on paternity leave.
In Ferguson, the Knicks get an athletic player who has yet to reach his potential. He skipped high school to play in Australia for a year and was a first-round pick of Oklahoma City, spending three seasons there. He started 74 games in his second season but played only 13 games for Philadelphia this season.