Two budding playoff rivals have tipped off trade season. The Knicks are reportedly acquiring swingman Cam Reddish in a trade with the Hawks in exchange for Kevin Knox and a first-round pick. New York will also receive (an injured) Solomon Hill and a second-round pick in the deal. The two teams played each other in the first round of last year’s playoffs, yet now both are currently in a fight to make the play-in this season. Reddish, who is signed through next season, is averaging 11.9 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game. Let’s grade the deal for both teams.
This is an easy yes for New York! Reddish is a talented wing, and his numbers don’t really do justice for his ceiling. Reddish was stuck in a crowded rotation in Atlanta, with De’Andre Hunter, Kevin Huerter and Bogdan Bogdanović among those also orbiting around Trae Young. Reddish has 3-and-D potential and has also flashed some off-the-dribble creativity. He’s shooting a career-best 37.9% from three this season, though he has to prove it’s not an outlier mark in the years to come. (Reddish also has ways to go as a playmaker and decision-maker.)
Ultimately, New York needs two-way talent like Reddish. Too often Tom Thibodeau has had to decide between offense or defense on the wing when closing games, and Reddish now has a chance to blossom alongside his former Duke teammate RJ Barrett. While guys like Evan Fournier and Alec Burks have had their moments, Reddish has more upside and makes more sense as part of a young core. And the Knicks will have the rest of this season and next to assess how good of a fit Reddish is with their current group. For the price of only a protected first (and a largely out-of-the-rotation Knox), why not make this move?
Hmm. Unless this Reddish deal is part of a bigger move, this feels like a little bit of a white-flag wave by the Hawks. According to ESPN, the first-rounder in this trade is arriving via the Hornets and is protected through pick 18 in ’22, pick 16 in ’23 and pick 14 in ’24 and ’25. There’s a nonzero chance the Hawks end up with two second-rounders instead, which would be selling pretty low on a talent like Reddish. Knox had some brief highs during his rookie season but has played largely inconsequential minutes the last three years.
Even with the understanding the wing rotation is crowded, and keeping all of Hunter, Reddish, Bogdanović and Huerter would be expensive, why not at least keep Reddish through this season? Could he also not be part of a package to possibly acquire a star? Was there a reason to believe his value to other teams could dip? Again, unless Atlanta acquired that Charlotte first with the intention of flipping it for someone else—still a possibility—this trade is a bit of a head-scratcher. The Hawks are giving up on a promising young talent; it makes a team fighting for the playoffs definitively worse, and the front office loses the flexibility of moving Reddish in a higher-profile trade. Perhaps this move is entirely about building a war chest of picks, which seems to be the way teams go star hunting in the modern NBA. That’s why this trade neither feels like a total failure nor slam dunk. But if Atlanta can’t swing another move, and if Reddish finally finds the right ecosystem to thrive, this trade certainly has the risk of aging very poorly.
More NBA Coverage:
•Daily Cover: Shawn Bradley's Tall Order
• Inside John Starks's 1994 Finals Nightmare
• The Fire That Burns Inside Klay Thompson
• NBA Mock Draft: Jabari Smith Remains No. 1, Johnny Davis Rising