What could the Charlotte Hornets get in a Malik Monk trade with the New York Knicks?
With the NBA trade deadline rapidly approaching on Feb. 6, reports, rumors and scuttlebutt is swirling about potential transactions.
Late Wednesday night, Ian Begley of SNY reported that "some in the Knicks organization see Charlotte's Malik Monk as a trade target worth pursuing." Begley cited anonymous sources in his reporting and added that it's "unknown" if the Knicks and Hornets have had conversations about Monk.
If the Knicks acquire Monk, he would be in the latest in a growing trend for the New York club.
In the past few years, they've added former lottery picks who didn't quite pan out with the team who picked them, in hopes that a change of scenery would spark their development. The Knicks have traded for 2017 No. 9 overall pick Dennis Smith Jr., signed 2014 No. 10 overall pick Elfrid Payton, and signed 2014 No. 7 overall pick Julius Randle this past summer. Other former lottery picks who have spent time on the Knicks roster in recent seasons include Trey Burke, Noah Vonleh and Emmanuel Mudiay.
Monk, 21, was drafted by the Hornets 11th overall in 2017 NBA Draft. In three seasons, the 6-foot-3 Kentucky guard has yet to start an NBA game. This season, he is averaging 8.4 points, 2.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists in 19.3 minutes per-night. He is currently shooting a career-high on two-point shots, making them at a 57.5 percent clip, but is shooting a career-low from three-point range, making just 25.2 percent of his attempts from behind the arc.
Still, one of Monk's best moments this season was when he scored 19 points and hit a buzzer-beating three to beat the Pistons at home.
In the preseason, Monk talked about how he gained weight in the off-season and that has translated into giving him more confidence when attacking the basket. This season, 46.3 of all Monk's shot attempts are coming within zero to 10 feet from the basket, which is a 27.7 percent increase from his rookie season. Monk also has 18 dunks in 43 games this season after throwing down just 27 slams in his first 136 games as a Hornet.
Monk has shown the ability to be a solid NBA-level scorer. He can score inside, he can make open three's and his passing has improved. However, Monk's biggest weakness is his lack of consistency.
While Monk had a nice performance on Monday, scoring 20 points in a loss to the Magic, it was the first time in eight games that he had scored in double-digits.
The Hornets exercised a team option for Monk in October, which keeps him under contract through the 2020-21 season. But if the Hornets don't plan on re-signing Monk after that, if they don't see him taking a leap in the next season and a half, they may want to trade him now to get something in return for him.
Of course, the question is, what can the Hornets get?
It's clear that the Hornets are in a re-building and development mode. If they trade Monk, they're going to want a young player, a draft pick, or perhaps both in return.
The problem is, it doesn't seem like the Knicks -- another team toiling away in the basement of the Eastern Conference standings -- are willing to part with prospects or picks.
Begley writes: "Teams in touch with the Knicks this month have gotten the impression that they are unlikely to make a move that compromises their future, whether that means trading away one of their young core (RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, Kevin Knox, etc.) or sending out a future first-round pick in a deal."
Considering that Begley has ruled out Knox as a trade chip, would the Knicks be willing to part with another young player, like Allonzo Trier? He and Monk's salaries would match for one-for-one trade, but the Hornets would almost certainly ask for a bit more, like a second round draft pick or two.
Trier was an undrafted free agent the Knicks scooped up in 2018 out of Arizona. He's 6-foot-4, 24-years-old and has averaged 9.7 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists across 84 NBA appearances. Trier is a better three-point shooter thank Monk, knocking down 37.6 percent of his career attempts from behind the arc.
The Knicks could also try to convince the Hornets to take one of their point guards off their hands and offer up either Dennis Smith Jr. or Frank Ntilikina. Though, the Hornets seem to be set at that position in the immediate future with Devonte' Graham and Terry Rozier. Still, Smith is just 22-years-old and is a North Carolina native. Ntilikina has proven to be a decent defender and passer, but not much else.
To make a deal, the Knicks would still probably have to throw in a draft pick or two to make Charlotte consider a trade.