Trail Blazers guard Josh Hart gestures after he made a three-pointer...

Trail Blazers guard Josh Hart gestures after he made a three-pointer during the second half of an NBA game against the Wizards on Feb. 3 in Washington. Credit: AP/Nick Wass

PHILADELPHIA — Tom Thibodeau continued to insist on Thursday that he was happy with the Knicks’ roster as it stood before the trade deadline, that he would have been OK if the team hadn’t acquired any help for the stretch run.

But speaking about two hours before the NBA’s 3 p.m. trade deadline, the coach had a glint in his eye as he talked about Josh Hart, whom the Knicks agreed to acquire from Portland on Wednesday night. They announced on Twitter at 11:30 p.m. Thursday that the trade was official.

The Knicks sent Cam Reddish, Ryan Arcidiacono, Svi Mykhailiuk and a protected 2023 first-round pick to Portland. The lottery-protected pick turns into four future second-round picks if not conveyed this year.

Hart, who was acquired by Portland from New Orleans at last year’s trade deadline, is averaging 9.5 points, 8.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists this season. The 27-year-old is averaging a career-high 33.4 minutes.

When Thibodeau met the media at Temple University early Thursday afternoon, the trade was not official yet because the players had to go through physicals.

But Thibodeau, speaking generally about Hart, said: “I have great respect for him. He’s been a top-flight competitor in the league for a long time, and he brings a lot of intangibles to the game. A lot of respect for him.”

Hart was under no such restrictions, so he posted on Twitter a message to Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges, his former Villanova teammates.

“So when we doing dinner?” Hart posted while tagging his pals.

Brunson will get to reunite with Hart. Bridges was sent from Phoenix to the Nets in the Kevin Durant trade.

Brunson was happy, too. When word of the trade spread on social media on Wednesday night, the point guard and his Knicks teammates were at Villanova, where the two-time NCAA Tournament champion was having his jersey retired.

A video was shot of Brunson seeing the trade news on a phone and exclaiming in joy.

Brunson did not speak to the media after Thursday’s practice. The Knicks will visit the 76ers on Friday night before hosting the Jazz on Saturday. It seems more likely that Hart will make his Knicks debut on Saturday than Friday.

The Knicks didn’t make the biggest splash before the trade deadline (that was the Nets), but Hart, a defensive specialist, should make them better. Thibodeau will have to figure out who will lose playing time as he plans to stick with a nine-man rotation.

“Once the deal is official, we’ll take a look at all the possibilities,” he said, “and then we have to do what we think is best for the team because it’s [about] the best chance to win. That won’t change from that standpoint. And you always look at ‘OK, here’s the personnel we have. What gives us our best chance? What makes the most sense?’ And then we’re going to continue to ask everyone to make sacrifices because that’s what a winning team does.”

The Knicks are trying to bring in good character guys who will fit into the locker room. Speaking generally and not about Hart specifically, Thibodeau said: “It’s like anything: You look at where has he been, who’s he been around, what has he done, how has he done it, and then you ask yourself, ‘Does he fit into our group?’

“And there are a number of things you have to look at, what drives achievement, what drives improvement. It’s not just collecting talent. That’s the biggest mistake people make in this league. It’s all the other stuff that’s really important.”


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