Tom Thibodeau almost always dismisses any queries about potential trades or roster moves as “Leon questions,” referring to Knicks president Leon Rose.
Thibodeau tried to go that route again following Tuesday’s tight victory over the Magic in Orlando, before indicating that he’d be OK if Rose doesn’t greatly shake up the current roster ahead of Thursday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline.
“We love our team,” Thibodeau said after the Knicks improved their record to 30-26 entering Friday’s game in Philadelphia. “If something were to happen, it would have to be something he felt very strongly about that would improve the club. But we also know we have a really good roster that we like. We have a lot of good young players that we know are gonna get better as time goes on.
“So, listen, I have been around a long time, and for every 100 trades they talk about, one gets done. So just keep focused. Don’t get distracted. It’s just noise, but the good thing is that I think the popularity of our league, it creates a buzz. Everyone’s looking at it, but you can’t lose sight of what’s important to us, which is getting ready for the next game.”
The Knicks have been linked to potentially helpful wing players such as Portland’s Josh Hart, Toronto’s OG Anunoby, Detroit’s Saddiq Bey and others. Another potential fit the Knicks could consider is veteran Magic guard Gary Harris, according to The Athletic.
But it’s possible that their only moves will be finding takers for one or more of their spare parts, mostly likely buried swingman Cam Reddish, who hasn’t appeared in a game since Dec. 3. Asked after Tuesday’s game if he expects to still be with the Knicks beyond the deadline, the 23-year-old Reddish smiled and politely declined comment.
The league’s playoff setup — with the seventh-through-10th-place teams in each conference playing a play-in tournament for the final two postseason seeds — has kept more teams involved and possibly less inclined to sell off desirable players.
Entering Wednesday’s league action, only four of the league’s 30 teams — the Hornets and the Pistons in the East and the Spurs and the Rockets in the West — were more than three games outside the No. 10 spots in their respective conferences.
“As professionals our job is to show every day and play basketball and let the front office deal with all those situations,” Knicks point guard Jalen Brunson said after Tuesday’s win. “But I love my teammates, getting to know these guys, they’ve been welcoming, for the guys that were here before me. The relationships made these past couple of months have been special, so I love these guys.”
Added Thibodeau: “I love our team, and that’s Leon’s job. And you see it’s league-wide right now, things heat up and that’s his job to listen to people, to talk, to see what’s going on in the league. He and his staff are always thinking about the possibilities and can we improve the team? That’s his job, he’s responsible for that. But we love our team.”