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Report: Knicks targeting Mavericks’ free agent Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

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New York sees him as a valuable wing defender.

Dallas Mavericks v Los Angeles Clippers - Game Five Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

The NBA still hasn’t set an official date for the start of free agency, but that doesn’t mean that teams aren’t already looking to make moves. One player who is likely to change jerseys before the start of next season is Dallas Mavericks forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

Marc Berman of the New York Post writes that the New York Knicks are interested in acquiring the talents of the former No. 2 overall pick of the 2012 NBA Draft.

“According to sources, the Knicks also view the player known as ‘MKG’ as a solid locker room guy,” Berman writes. “Kidd-Gilchrist, however, wouldn’t address the Knicks’ desire to improve their outside shooting.”

Kidd-Gilchrist signed a Rest-of-Season contract with the Mavericks in February, just weeks before the NBA temporarily suspended the regular season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is currently an unrestricted free agent.

The Mavericks touted MKG, who stands at 6-foot-6, as a defensive asset when they brought him in, something the Knicks are seeking, Berman says.

“He’s a great defensive player. He helps us a lot,” Luka Doncic said of MKG at the time. “He can play the small game. He can play the five and the four. He brings the energy.”

In the nine games he played before the shutdown, Kidd-Gilchrist averaged 0.4 points and 2.2 rebounds. He took just seven field goal attempts, including three 3-pointers. He missed every shot—corroborating Berman’s claims that he wouldn’t help the Knicks’ offense.

When the season restarted in the bubble at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, Kidd-Gilchirst got the opportunity to redeem himself in a sense—once he finally arrived after a prolonged delay due to “personal things” with his family. In four seeding games, he averaged 1.4 points and three rebounds in 12.5 minutes off the bench.

He appeared in all six of Dallas’ playoff games against the Los Angeles Clippers and averaged 2.3 points and one rebound in nine minutes per game as a stop-gap measure to defend either Kawhi Leonard or Paul George. He posted a defensive rating of 121.8 for the series, per NBA.com.

Kidd-Gilchrist’s addition to Dallas’ roster was never supposed to be a long-term situation. It was to service their need for defensive wing depth for the post season. Whether he adequately filled that role or not is open to interpretation, but the Mavericks may have already made up their minds.

According to Berman, “he didn’t make enough of an impact in the bubble at Disney World, and sources said Dallas is leaning toward letting him walk.”

If the Mavericks are set on parting ways with MKG, they need to be on the lookout for more help along the perimeter. That’s been a glaring weakness of the roster for several seasons.

As for Kidd-Gilchrist, if Knicks do sign him, he’ll find himself in a rigorous defensive system under new head coach Tom Thibodeau.