Victor Oladipo in play as Knicks weigh trade deadline moves



Blake Griffin isn’t the Knicks’ cup of tea at the moment.

As he gets bought out by the Pistons, The Post has learned the Knicks will pass on the former All-Star dunk master.

That says a lot about where they are now. Julius Randle, who is commanding the minutes at power forward, was called Thursday by coach Tom Thibodeau, an “All-NBA Player.’’

And there’s no desire to put team president Leon Rose’s lottery pick, Obi Toppin, on the pine and stunt his growth. In addition, Kevin Knox is waiting in the wings. That does not mean, however, that Rose won’t explore upgrading the roster’s talent level by the March 25 trade deadline to aid a playoff push.

Rose, who was not in his customary Garden seat Thursday as the Knicks faced the Pistons in the final game before the All-Star Break, has a lot to weigh as he carries a bundle of assets.

Rose is playing with house money as the Knicks are off to a shocking 19-18 start and sit in fifth place in the Eastern Conference.

Thibodeau has created a unit with excellent chemistry and camaraderie. Several players have talked about how “close-knit’’ the team has become.

Victor Oladipo

Rose isn’t sure he wants to tempt fate and mess with the locker room vibe after seamlessly adding Derrick Rose in a trade on Super Bowl Sunday.

The Post reported on Feb. 11 that the Knicks were monitoring the availability of superstar Bradley Beal and former All-Star Victor Oladipo. The Wizards are surging and Beal has expressed devotion to the team, so there’s no chance they will make him available this season. And there never been a single legitimate report the Bulls are open to moving Zach LaVine, their first-time All-Star who won’t be a free agent until 2022.

Oladipo, however, remains in play for the Knicks as the Rockets are expected to trade him at the deadline as they slide into oblivion. Oladipo will be a free agent in 2021 and reportedly wants to sign with the Heat. That would make Oladipo a rental as the Knicks look to boost their bid to snap a seven-year playoff drought.

Knicks general manager Scott Perry, while with the Magic, drafted Oladipo second overall in 2013, and he has been a supporter of a potential trade. But Perry no longer is the top decision-maker. He has not been at the Garden the past five games, scouting the end of the G-League’s bubble season.

Oladipo, who has recovered from knee surgery, recently missed four straight games with a foot issue and has struggled shooting of late. But he’s averaging 20 points and his 3-point percentage is 36.2 percent. Some scouts, however, are still concerned about his physical state.

If swingman RJ Barrett continues to progress as a consistent offensive force, the Knicks could view Oladipo as less necessary to spruce up the backcourt scoring.

According to a source who has been in contact with Knicks brass, the franchise still is unsure if the team has a surefire starting point guard.

As electric as rookie Immanuel Quickley has been, they still think he could be a sixth-man stud or start as an off-the-ball guard in the right alignment. He’s not viewed as a elite playmaker.

That is why the Knicks have always kept an eye on Hornets point guard Terry Rozier and young Pelicans playmaker Lonzo Ball (who would probably be more of a summer transaction).

The Knicks still are in a holding pattern regarding adding a traditional center to the roster. Starter Mitchell Robinson will be out until perhaps late March with a broken hand and Taj Gibson is out indefinitely with a severely sprained ankle.

The Knicks would have to cut a player — likely in-the-doghouse Austin Rivers, who fell out of favor with Rose’s addition and hasn’t adjusted to his new role as cheerleader.

Nerlens Noel has been terrific holding down the center fort, capped by his performance against the Pistons on Thursday: 12 points, 5-for-5 from the field, 11 rebounds, four steals, two blocks.

Noel has bad knees, however, and fewer minutes would be better for his longevity. The Post has reported the Knicks have “analyzed’’ whether former All-Star center Andre Drummond would be a good chemistry fit with Randle.

The Post also has learned the Knicks have had internal talks about their former center, Kyle O’Quinn, a Queens native. O’Quinn played sparingly for the 76ers last season, but got passed over in free agency in November. O’Quinn signed up with a team in Turkey, Fenerbahce, in January and has made 21 of 26 shots in seven games.


Source link