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Report: NBA executives increasingly speculating about star forcing trade to Knicks

Wizards guard Bradley Beal and Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 27: Bradley Beal #3 of the Washington Wizards shoots in front of Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves during the second half at Capital One Arena on February 27, 2021 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images)

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The Knicks have been thirsting after stars for years.

Instead, the Knicks have landed only cold rejection.

Though the New York market and franchise’s prestige give them a leg up, the Knicks have ignored the crucial first steps in appealing to stars – becoming at least a decently run organization. Nobody wants to join a dumpster fire.

But after seven straight losing seasons (including losing 60% of their games each of the last six years), the Knicks (18-17) look competent.

So, rumors of stars forcing their way to New York are again gaining steam.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

I say within the next 12 months a star slash superstar player demands a trade to New York. And I don’t know who it’s going to be. I have some guesses. I’m not going to say right here. I’ll let you guys start thinking about that. Let’s just put it this way: League executives certainly have some guesses. And I say by next year’s trade deadline a player – a superstar, All-Star player – tries to force his way there.

The Knicks have been previously linked to Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns, Suns guard Devin Booker and Wizards guard Bradley Beal.

But Minnesota acquired D’Angelo Russell to appease Towns (though hasn’t won with Russell and Towns). With Chris Paul in Phoenix, Booker is winning much more. Beal continues to state his loyalty to Washington.

Still, it’s a big league. Stars are frequently becoming unhappy.

New York is reasonably well-positioned to trade for one.

Knicks president Leon Rose is a former agent who’s close with some stars and understands how to build that connection. Knicks executive William Wesley (“World Wide Wes”) is known for his relationships. New York has ample cap space and two extra first-round picks (the Mavericks’ unprotected in 2021 and top-10-protected in 2023, 2024 or 2025). Julius Randle, who’s under contract for $19.8 million next season, also holds appeal – either to a star who wants to join a good teammate or team looking for sufficient return in a trade.

In a star-driven league, the Knicks should have interest in any star that becomes available. But they should also proceed with caution. Paying too much to acquire a star can make it too difficult to build around him. (See Carmelo Anthony’s tenure.) New York’s willingness to drop any plan for even a whiff of a star is dangerous.

Also remember: As much as the Knicks are currently exceeding expectations, they’re only one game over .500. They could regress. James Dolan still owns the team and could undermine everything.

So, this won’t be easy for the Knicks. They should try to strike while the iron is hot – but not overpay. It’s a tightrope this franchise has struggled to walk for a while.

But it sure beats being irrelevant, and the Knicks certainly aren’t that.