TORONTO — The Knicks suddenly have a logjam at point guard, but that’s better than having one at the center position.
They acquired former lottery pick Emmanuel Mudiay from Denver in a three-team trade in which Doug McDermott went to Dallas just before Thursday’s trade deadline.
The Knicks wanted to get more athletic at point guard and needed someone who could get into the paint and create for himself and others. They believe the acquisition of the 6-5 Mudiay accomplished both goals, even though his production has dipped the last two seasons.
The No. 7 selection in the 2015 draft, Mudiay, 21, gives the Knicks three point guards who were lottery picks and are 25 or younger. Frank Ntilikina was the No. 8 pick in 2017 and Trey Burke, who signed last month, was the No. 9 pick in 2013.
Mudiay was on the Knicks’ radar in 2015 before they took Kristaps Porzingis with the No. 4 pick. The NBA is playing smaller, so it makes sense to have more guards and wings. Mudiay was a low-risk, high-reward addition.
Now the Knicks have to evaluate them to see which, if any, will be part of their long-term plans. Incumbent starting point guard Jarrett Jack, 34, is not.
“We’re happy to get Emmanuel,” Jeff Hornacek said. “He’s a big body, big and strong. He can handle the ball. He can get in that lane and find guys. I think he’s got a good sense of the game. So when we have guys open, guys are probably going to get the ball. He’ll just add to that.”
Courtney Lee and Kyle O’Quinn received interest, but Knicks general manager Scott Perry apparently didn’t get an offer he liked. O’Quinn can opt out this summer and leave in free agency. Lee is under contract for two more years, but the Knicks could try to trade him in the offseason. They want as much flexibility as possible to be active in free agency in 2019.
The Knicks also have to decide Joakim Noah’s future. He remains away from the team after getting into a heated argument with Hornacek. The Knicks could buy out Noah or stretch his contract. He’s owed $37.7 million over the next two years.
The Knicks began clearing their glut at center Tuesday by dealing Willy Hernangomez to Charlotte for second-round picks in 2020 and 2021, a $1.5-million trade exception and Johnny O’Bryant, whom they waived.
In Thursday’s trade, the Knicks sent McDermott to the Mavericks and the Clippers’ 2018 second-round pick to Denver. Devin Harris went from Dallas to the Nuggets, who sent Portland’s 2018 second-round choice to Dallas.
McDermott, acquired from Oklahoma City in the Carmelo Anthony trade, fizzled after a fast start. The Knicks weren’t going to re-sign him, so they moved McDermott, who was at the morning shootaround, for a young asset. He appeared in 55 games, averaged 7.2 points and shot 38.7 percent from three-point range.
The Knicks looked into acquiring Elfrid Payton from Orlando, but there was never a deal in place, a source said. Perry was part of Orlando’s front office when Payton was drafted. There was a report that Orlando wanted Ntilikina, but the Knicks weren’t including him in any trades.
Payton went to the Suns for a second-round pick Thursday. He will be a free agent after this season.
Mudiay, who will be a restricted free agent in 2019, was a top prospect when he entered the league. He averaged 12.8 points and 5.5 assists and earned a spot on the All-Rookie second team. He started 107 games in his first two years but none this season. He’s averaging 8.5 points and 2.9 assists in 17.9 minutes in 42 games.
Hornacek must figure out how to use all these point guards. He could play two of them together, as he has with Ntilikina and Burke at times. Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe and Isaiah Thomas were on the same team when Hornacek coached the Suns.
“In theory, it’s just an opportunity to maybe play a couple of those guys together,” he said. “We’ve done it already with Trey and Frank. We’ll continue to do stuff like that.”
Born: March 5, 1996, in Kinshasa, Congo
Position: Point guard
Height/Weight: 6-5/ 200
Drafted: 2015, first round, seventh overall by Denver.
FG pct.: .375
3FG pct: .328