The lottery's ping-pong balls denied the New York Knicks an opportunity to enlist D'Angelo Russell at the 2015 NBA Draft. Seven years later, a path to a metropolitan destiny could be forming.
Russell's future has become a talking point after he was relegated to the bench in the final minutes of the Minnesota Timberwolves' brief playoff run against Memphis. Drafted second overall by the Los Angeles Lakers in 2015 (with the Knicks drafting Kristaps Porzingis after getting moved two spots back), Russell had appeared to have found some career stability in Minnesota through his long-standing relationship with Karl-Anthony Towns. His late benching, however, could push him back to New York after spending two seasons in Brooklyn.
D'Angelo Russell (Photo: Getty)
D'Angelo Russell during his time with the Brooklyn Nets (Photo: Getty)
Derrick Rose (Photo: Getty)
With the Knicks in desperate need of an experienced yet young point guard (Russell turned 26 in February), the NBA Analysis Network has conjured a way for Russell to meet his Knicks destiny. The proposed trade's price for Russell would be Alec Burks, Nerlens Noel, Derrick Rose, and next year's (top-ten protected) first-round pick the Knicks obtained from Dallas in the deal that sent Porzingis away.
Russell's price tag, due to be a $31 million cap hit thanks to a four-year extension granted by Brooklyn, could raise eyebrows, but that's exactly why the price is so hefty: removing the contracts of Burks, Noel, and Rose (all expiring after the 2022-23 season) would open up $33 million of New York cap space. His arrival would also set up a long-sought answer to the team's point guard problems, ones that only exacerbated with Burks, Rose, and Kemba Walker in tow last season.
Head coach Tom Thibodeau's renowned offensive systems often rely on reliable facilitation from the one and the team noticeably suffered as a result. Russell is coming off a season where he put up a career-best 7.1 assists per game as he helped guide the Timberwolves to their first playoff berth since 2018 and second since 2004.
Destiny thwarted the Knicks' chance to grab Russell seven summers ago. Minnesota's situation might've created an interesting case of better late than never.