Should the Knicks consider trading for Markelle Fultz?

The contributors of Knicks Film School give their opinions on Fultz.

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It was reported earlier this week that Markelle Fultz is no longer in the Sixers’ long-term plans. The former number one overall pick somehow losing his shot between the NBA Draft podium and suiting up for the Sixers, with shoulder issues part of the problem. As Philly tires of the drama that surrounds him and prepares to compete in the East, they are apparently ready to move on.

Which brings us to the Knicks. Always looking to capitalize on buy-low situations, should they consider making a move for the once promising guard?

JB | @KnickFilmSchool

Let’s start from a cap perspective. Does a trade for Fultz make sense given the Knicks plans to pursue a max free agent in 2019?

While Fultz is still on a rookie scale contract, don’t let that fool you into thinking he isn’t making a decent amount of money. As a former number one overall pick, his rookie scale is the highest amount from his draft class. He is due to make $8.3 million this season and $9.7 million next season, before a team option kicks in.

With the Sixers looking to have as much cap space as possible to re-sign Jimmy Butler and keep their young core in place, it would seem that both moving on from Fultz and clearing future cap space would be their main goals in trading the young guard. Because of this and the uncertainty surrounding his potential, Fultz’s trade value is probably not very high, as Keith Pompey from the Philadelphia Inquirer reports:

If the 76ers have tired of this saga and are considering trading Fultz, and multiple sources said they are, his trade value must have declined a great deal since the start of the season.

Since the Knicks are a non-taxpaying team, they are able to accept an incoming salary that is as much as $5 million more than what they send out. This means the Knicks could trade as little as $3.3 million in a deal for Fultz, which gives them the flexibility to move a low cost piece if Philadelphia isn’t interested in taking back a salary like Courtney Lee’s. Of course, this would add salary to the Knicks books in 2019, so it would have to be the right deal for the Knicks to consider that.

Looking at it from the other side of the coin, the Sixers are also a non-taxpaying team so they can also accept as much as $5 million in additional salary in a trade, so the Knicks could send Courtney Lee’s $12.2 million to Philly for Fultz. New York, who is about $6.5 million short of max space for Kevin Durant next summer (see my assumptions for this projection), would then gain roughly $3 million in cap space in 2019.

Dave Early | @BehindCurve

The Knicks should absolutely consider trading for Fultz. He is 16 months removed from being a prospect who would have easily gone in the top 5 of any NBA draft over the last 5 years. Coach Fiz has shown an ability to get struggling players like Emmanuel Mudiay to play the best ball of their careers. It’s a lot of upside to try to unlock.

Like New York, Philly would probably want expiring contracts to increase their spend this summer; that’s why they shot down any reported interest in Lee months ago, per Keith Pompey. But they just might settle for a package that costs them space if they felt it moved the needle in their quest to win the east.

In that second scenario, discovering if Elton Brand believes that Tim Hardaway Jr. could be that piece is worth a shot. A deal centered around Hardaway Jr. for Fultz and Mike Muscala’s expiring contract would allow the Knicks to create more than enough space to take on Fultz while simultaneously creating room to sign KD. A dream scenario.

There is a very low chance that Philly believes Hardaway increases their title odds enough to justify the resulting loss of cap space. (If they simply traded Fultz for an expiring contract and late pick they could resign Jimmy Butler and also create up to ~$33m in additional room and compete with New York as buyers this July). It’s hard to imagine them loving Hardaway that much and it may require a bit more. But either way this dream scenario is worth a call from the Knicks.

Michael | @Michael_Nania

I think the Knicks should steer clear of Fultz. This team has got a great thing going with the culture they are cultivating under David Fizdale and the duo of Scott Perry and Steve Mills. While Fultz is undoubtedly an intriguing project, he has also looked completely lost out there most of the time, both literally and figuratively. He is surrounded by drama and negative media aura. Personally, I don’t see taking him on worth the circus he would attract, in addition to the playing time he’d take from the other young guards the Knicks are doing a nice job developing.

Mike D. | @DebateBBall

Should the Knicks consider trading for Fultz?

Of course they should. I’ll take it a step further and say they should actively pursue him.

The stipulations: No Frank, No Mitch, No Kev, No ‘19 pick.

As long as the Knicks avoid taking on an added contract in the deal, I don’t see a downside. What I do see, though, is potential for the sort of opportunistic move that accelerates rebuilds. If Fizdale can work his wonders with Mudiay and Burke, imagine what he could do with a 20-year-old consensus #1 pick whose under team control for another three years?

Vivek | @VDadhania

Yes, I’d trade for Fultz. He’s in a no-win position in Philadelphia and New York will allow him to reset his young career. He’ll be able to ease some of the pressure mounted on him with being the #1 overall pick by being in an environment that emphasizes development and patience. Fultz has the tools already to be an above average defender. The only thing missing is confidence on offense. He did show glimpses of his potential last season. If Fizdale and the Knicks developmental group can fix Mudiay and revitalize Burke, they should be able to work with Fultz. Fultz has better tools than both of those players and can be a great complementary weapon to add alongside Frank Ntilikina, both on offense and defense.

Tiff | @TiffStarr815

So, should we trade for Fultz? Not right now. Maybe I’m caught up in the moment of the 3-game winning streak and the overall play of the boys since the beginning of the season, but there’s no way I’m trading for Fultz, period. The man can’t even shoot a free throw right now. Believe me, when he was coming out of Washington, I was one of Fultz’s biggest fans, but he just isn’t worth it right now.

Even if he’s two seasons removed from being “right”, would the wait be worth it? At what cost? Frank? Our best defender with all-defensive team talent? I honestly wouldn’t even involve Vonleh in a trade for him. His energy and all around game on the court is what I would rather watch on a nightly basis. Courtney Lee and Lance Thomas are possible trade chips, but it’s uncertain how high other teams value each player, plus their veteran presence on the team has been lauded and praised by teammates and Coach Fizdale.

There isn’t one scenario that would make me remotely interested in a trade for Fultz, If it’s a trade involving the Warriors and KD and we won’t have to wait until July, then we can talk. Kidding. I really do wish Fultz much success , but he’s still going through “The Process” and he can continue to do it on a team not named the Knicks.

Macri | @JCMacriNBA

On the surface, it seems like the perfect lottery ticket. I forget who said it, but on one of the 2017 pre-draft podcasts, a respectable analyst referred to Fultz as the guard version of Karl-Anthony Towns, just in terms of how safe a pick he was. Somewhere, beneath layers and layers of physical, mental and emotional scarring, that player is still in there.

For New York, if they get that guy, it’s a potentially franchise altering move. The issue is this: if the Sixers – a damn smart organization – are ready to sell him for relative pennies on the dollar, why in the world should anyone believe that that player is still in there? If it’s essentially a straight up swap for Courtney Lee? I guess you’d have to. That said, if Lee comes back and looks healthy for a few games, you could easily argue that his 2019-20 salary is easier to move than Fultz’ would be come July.

If the Knicks had to throw in one of the juicy 2nd’s they got from Charlotte in the Willy trade? It might be a deal breaker for me.

My main issue, though, is this: can you imagine the scrutiny Fultz would be under in New York? Even if they hid him in Westchester, the minute he scored 20 points, it would be “Is Fultz the Knicks new point guard of the future?” and “Fultz languishes while the Knicks wilt in the Garden.” If he was with the big club every day? Forget it. I’m sorry … I don’t need it. I just don’t. Right now, the good ship lollipop is happily sailing along. Forgive me for being the wet blanket, but I think I’d like to just keep going in the direction we’re headed and not pick up any stragglers along the way.

Spencer | @FrontOfficeEye

I’m 100% in on trading for Fultz, IF the Knicks are not giving up any real asset (meaning, no core player). Hell, I’d put anyone on the table outside of Frank, KP, Trier, Knox, and Dot.

From a talent perspective, if Fultz gets his shot back, he’s a perfect fit next to Frank. People forget that he was a legit 3-level scorer on and off the ball at Washington. 87th percentile overall (possessions + assists), 93rd as PnR scorer, 73rd as a PnR passer, 71st on all jumpers, 63rd around basket, 70 catch and shoot, 88th on off dribble jumpers, and was a 67+ percentile shooter on jumpers from everywhere on the court.

He was a hell of an offensive weapon and his biggest question mark was his defense, which has actually been good this year (with a few bizarre mistakes here and there) – credit to Coach Brown for making Simmons and Fultz, two mediocre at best college defenders, into legitimately good NBA ones. Basically, from a talent perspective, he’d be an awesome fit next to the core + whoever the Knicks pick this year.

***I will also add that someone who told me that Burke to NY would happen months before it happened also told me that KD to NY is really in the cards. I’m not going to go into detail why (there are many working pieces from KD’s perspective), or who my source was, but he was spot on in the past and I do trust him.***

If Fultz doesn’t get back his Washington form, the Knicks could cut bait with him after the 2019-20 season. The way I see it, there is a very minimal risk and a massive reward (even if there is a small chance of that reward being found).

Let us know what you think below!

21 COMMENTS

    • I think the odds of you getting Fultz straight up for Lee/Kanter/Timmy/etc are very small. In reality the Sixers need to save face when they trade Fultz as they invested a lot in him (trading up specifically for him) and essentially broke a lock #1 pick.

      They need a guy they can sell to their fan base will help them win right away and Kanter and Lee are not that calibre of player in my option. Timmy arguably is but the trade kicker in his contract makes him undesirable in my opinion.

      But if the Sixers actually agreed to trading Fultz for Courtney Lee the Knicks could create $3m extra capspace (not much but every bit helps) and get a guy who 18 months ago was a John Wall level prospect at point guard.

      I think it makes more sense Fultz ends up in Orlando or Phoenix, its easier to work a trade that suits both teams and they are smaller markets who are further away from contention, but IF the Knicks traded Fultz for any of the vets straight up I could definitely talk myself into it being a good move.

  1. JB makes the best case – financially it doesn’t make any sense because both the Sixers and Knicks are looking to shed salary. Think of the other top picks the Sixers have recently sold for pennies, Jhalil Okafor (on his way out of the league), Nerlens Noel (hasn’t lived up to even half of his hype), Michael Carter Williams (completely withered after a good rookie season) – the Sixers organization clearly has the inside track on knowing whether Fultz is a future star or simply damaged goods and their desire to move him despite such a spirited attempt to build him up over his career so-far is a major red flag to me. Hell, the kid saw a shoulder specialist just YESTERDAY, we don’t even know his health situation!

    • Where do I send the check for supporting my case? Lol. It definitely is a risky move, but with those risk, he comes at a discounted price. So if they could trade Lee (straight up for Fultz, which helps them financially, would you do it then?

      • Only then would I even consider it, but that opens up more questions – mainly, how do we find minutes for four PG’s on this roster, and how much pressure do we put on Fiz to make a difficult situation work? I personally would’ve loved moving Lee for Wilson Chandler, financially, but it seems the Sixers are unwilling to take on money in any deals right now & that’s why I don’t think Lee straight up for Fultz is viable – but if it is…I consider it lol

  2. I would pass. The Knicks are currently developing lots of young guys who need minutes. They get Fultz, it cuts time for Frank, Dot, etc. The 10M he is owed next year makes him a liability for a team who wants to use cap space. Even if he’s good, that cap hold will be really high by the time he’s a FA. I also think Markelle will be best served going to a smaller market where he will get consistent minutes, like Orlando or Phoenix.

    • Yeah his cap hold is what worries me. They could always move him again, but what’s the point of that? I guess you would hope you could rent him for cheap, build up his value, and then maybe trade him for a better return

  3. I absolutely take this gamble on high-end talent. Knicks new regime has established the theme of player development and reclamation this year and for the immediate future. I understand the market/media concerns, but not often to you get the chance for a lottery ticket like this for likely pennies on the dollar.

    I think the biggest hurdle is identifying what his trade value really is? The 76ers likely want now help, so that leads me to think Lee, Kanter, THjr, ~could~ be the types of players they look for to help the current core get to the next level especially considering lack of alpha dog in the East.

    • Yup, exactly. What is his value. You could make an argument that despite THJ’s large contract, he is too valuable to trade (although I don’t think Philly wants that contract). But a team with cap space might give up something for the next two years of THJ, so don’t overlook that idea.

      • Agreed JB, I think the THjr contract is a bit too much given the need to resign Butler. I do think Timmy has played himself into an asset for the right situation.

    • Its tough because what Fultz’s trade value ACTUALLY IS may not be what the Sixers would realistically take back in a trade.

      The Sixers traded up in the draft for this guy less than 18 months ago! Elton Brand needs to save face in this trade and getting back a mid-30s vet with a bad contract in return for a Kentucky John Wall -esque talent that you essentially broke would look really really bad.

      That’s why I don’t see this trade being feasible for the Knicks. In my opinion a smaller market team who are a bit further away from contending is a better fit for Fultz and more realistic for the Sixers.

      If are the Magic and you know Vucevic is leaving why not take a flyer on Fultz when you don’t have a point guard you see as your future starter going forward when you are actually contending?

      • Magic make a lot of sense. I think what helps Elton Brand is that he can wash his hands of this mess and blame Collangelo for the trade/year 1 of the Fultz disaster.

        Also FWIW JB, love the new site so much – I think a designated chat area (not just on the individual articles) would be a cool feature. I check the site a few times throughout my work day and would love to just pop in to a chat section and see what Knicks fans are discussing.

  4. Would I want Fultz on the Knicks?

    Hmmm…

    Well first of all I have to admit that I don’t see the Knicks and Sixers agreeing on any sort of trade that works for both teams. It would look REALLY bad for the Sixers to drop Fultz in a salary dump just over a year after trading up in the draft to select him #1 overall. The only way Elton Brand could save face is if he got a legitimate asset for Fultz, we’re talking a 1st round pick, a young talent, a fringe all-star. The Knicks have all of those things but would they be willing to part with them for Fultz? The front office said before the season started that they were “not going to trade our draft picks” so to do so now 21 games into the season would severely damage the credibility of Mills & Perry going forward in the eyes of Knicks fans. So a young talent? Well what is there to gain? For all of his faults on offense Frank is an elite defender at the point-guard spot as a 20 year old! Once his pretty jumper stops clanking the front of the rim and instead sinks through it without leaving a ripple of the net in its wake he will be at minimum a Tony Allen with better playmaking skills in this league. Tony Allen was a key player on multiple playoff teams. Robinson is one of the league leaders in blocks while only playing 18 minutes a game! He has become a fan favorite for all of his alley-oop dunks. Knicks fans would storm the MSG if the Knicks traded Mitch for Fultz. Kevin Knox has had a mixed start to his career as a Knick but he’s the 2nd youngest player in the league and the Knicks took him with the 8th pick less than 6 months ago. To trade him now would show the fans that absolutely nothing has changed with this new regime and we can expect our drafted players to be disposed of at the earliest convenience unless they become instantaneous all-stars (Phil Jackson even considered KP, the greatest Knick prospect since Ewing). As for a fringe all-star the only guy who fits the description right now is Tim Hardaway Jr. Would the Sixers be willing to take on Timmy at $20m per increasing the next 3 years? Does Timmy greatly improve their chances at winning a championship this year? Unlikely to both questions in my opinion.

    Now in a purely hypothetical scenario would I want the Knicks to trade for Fultz?

    In a vacuum, yes.

    Fultz 18 months ago was as sure a sure thing as you could ask for from a prospect coming out of college. THAT GUY is still somewhere trapped inside of this shell of a human being we see wearing #20. A new city, new fan base, new stadium, new uniform, new training facility, new teammates, new coaching staff, a new start would do Markelle a world of good. In my opinion Fultz just needs the right situation to release him from the curse he is currently bound by in Philadelphia.

    Are the Knicks the right situation for Markelle Fultz?

    HELL NO.

    MSG is the Mecca of basketball. It is the greatest stage in the NBA. Players league wide bring their A-games to The Garden where they wouldn’t at any other opposition venue around the league. Moreover, New York is the biggest stage in western civilization and just so happens to be home to one of the most savage sports media and most ravenous, success deprived fanbases in sports. Essentially what is being proposed here is talking a musician who just bombed at an amateur night at his local dive bar and putting him on stage at Carnegie Hall and expecting an improved performance.

    • I love this analysis but one point I keep seeing pop up (in your break down and the article above) is the idea that there’s still a world of potential trapped in Fultz…are we really sure that’s true? He’s never displayed the talent that made him a #1 pick in actual NBA gameplay, and he’s suffered through a mystery shoulder injury for over a year + the team most in tune with his ability is cutting bait on him not even a year and a half into his career. I understand the appeal of “buying low on a former #1 pick” but when he hasn’t played like a former #1 pick at any point in his career, and is at this stage STILL under an injury cloud – how much would any team (let alone the Knicks) be willing to bet on that player? He could recover, sure, or he could be Anthony Bennett. Either way it’ll be a project, and that’s something competing teams don’t need & many rebuilding teams don’t want.

      • Fultz did have a triple double last season and in the few games he did play he showed some of the things he was capable of doing. I think he just needs a change of scenery.

      • Anthony Bennett was never at Fultz level in college so I’m not sure that’s fair comparison. Bennet was a fringe top 10 guy on most draft boards coming into that draft whereas Fultz was as much of a lock as just about any player in any recent draft.

        I think a lot of whats going on with Fultz is mental. Ever since that motorcycle accident he’s not been the same guy but I think if you get him out of Philly and into a lower market team where he can have a fresh start it would do wonders. Its nnot like he broke a leg, he just has a cloud hanging over him right now but the talent is still in there somewhere.

        If you don’t want him as a contender that’s logical but I don’t see why you wouldn’t take a flyer on him as a rebuilding team. His stock is so low right now that the reward greatly outweighs the risk.

        There’s little benefit to Orlando in keeping a Vucevic or Terrence Ross if they know one of them is leaving in the summer. All they are doing is hurting their draft selection. Dj Augustin is not their future so what do they lose trading for Fultz?

        The Suns are not contending. They don’t have a point guard. Trevor Ariza and Jamal Crawford aren’t beneficial pieces to them right now or going forward, other than as mentors. What do they have to lose trading for Fultz?

        If you are a rebuilding team in a small market and you can get a guy who was a lock no.1 pick less than 18 months ago without giving up an asset that is a pivitol piece for your team in the future when you are contending, you need to at least consider it.

        • The Bennett point is certainly fair, and I agree if you’re a rebuilding team there’s a low enough risk to consider making a play for him. I think my main contention is that it isn’t *just* the mental aspect at play here. Between shuffling trainers, the totally broken shot, and the underlying injury, I wonder if he can actually deliver on his pre-draft potential with a change of scenery alone.

          • Maybe not but in my opinion its worth a shot for a select few teams around the league.

            I’m absolutely not saying its a guarantee and I’m quite happy the Knicks are likely out of the Fultz sweepstakes. Completely see where you are coming from.

  5. If they can trade a veteran and gain cap space… sure! Kanter, Lance, Courtney, even THJ.
    As long as they keep the young core off the table, and don’t erode the cap space further, what the heck. It’d be worth it just to gain Cap room even if they send Fultz to the G League until he’s waived.

    • I’m not sure the Sixers would accept any of those guys (maybe Timmy?) but if they would agree to a trade that didn’t involve a young guy or a pick I could talk myself into that being a good move by the Knicks.

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