Laying out a deal between the Cavs and Knicks
The one player who is clearly off-limits for the New York Knicks in any trade discussion is Jalen Brunson; he’s their best player on a bargain contract and the star they want to pair with whomever they trade for. From there, however, any player on their roster could be in play.
Julius Randle is one option to match salary, but he doesn’t make much sense on a Cavaliers team with Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen. That leaves RJ Barrett as the primary means of matching salary with a valuable player. He becomes the starting point for a deal that begins to mirror the trade the Cavaliers made last summer.
The New York Knicks would establish a star-studded backcourt, with Jalen Brunson and Donovan Mitchell together. Josh Hart could step into the starting lineup and join Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson in the frontcourt. The benefit of a two-headed guard attack, as the Cavs have learned themselves, is that either player can break down a defense and swing to their teammate to knife into the advantage.
The Knicks would also face the issue of playing two small guards, which is one of the difficulties of any team adding Mitchell. Does that challenge lead them to step out of the Donovan Mitchell trade market? Or would they simply seek to insulate them defensively, as the Cavaliers have?
Let’s assume this is the package the Knicks agree to. Do the Cavaliers say yes?