The Knicks are a surprising 3-2 since starting center Mitchell Robinson broke his right hand.
The new center tandem of Nerlens Noel and Taj Gibson have provided rebounding and defense in those five games.
But the duo have combined to average just 11.4 points. As Tuesday’s loss to the Warriors showed, the Knicks still may need a scoring upgrade to remain in playoff position as Robinson mends into late March.
According to an NBA source who has been in touch with the Knicks, the club has made no decisions, but are “analyzing” whether making a play for on-the-block Cavaliers center Andre Drummond makes sense from a chemistry and winning standpoint. The Knicks are the NBA’s lowest-scoring team.
The Cavaliers are getting desperate as they shop Drummond, benched the last two weeks as they try to find him a new home. The Cavaliers are not believed to be seeking a high price.
One of the Knicks’ trove of second-round picks and an extraneous roster piece such as Austin Rivers or Frank Ntilikina, both out of the rotation and free agents this summer, probably would do the trick.
The Knicks are the most flexible team to slip Drummond’s expiring $28 million contract onto their roster as they still have $15 million of cap space.
The Post has reported Drummond, 27, would consider the Knicks a solid destination as a Mount Vernon native. The Cavaliers, after an 8-8 start, are now all in on rebuilding around ex-Nets center Jarrett Allen, whom they acquired in the James Harden mega-deal.
Tom Thibodeau’s Knicks want to make the playoffs this season but are thin up front.
Thibodeau still hasn’t much used a smallball alignment with first-time All-Star Julius Randle at center and rookie Obi Toppin at power forward. Thibodeau has also mulled — but not employed — putting 3-point shooter Kevin Knox back into the rotation as a power forward with Randle at center.
Toppin looked good Tuesday, going 3 of 3 with a pretty alley-oop slam, a hook shot in the lane and a late 3-pointer.
Meanwhile, Drummond has been a double-double wrecking ball for years and is averaging 17.5 points and 13.5 rebounds. His rebounding mark is second in the NBA.
Drummond’s field-goal percentage is 47.4 – which has analytics gurus concerned for a big man.
Some pundits wonder if spacing with Randle could be an issue as Drummond has only taken 21 field-goal attempts from more than 10 feet away from the rim, according to NBA.com. However, Robinson has taken zero shots from 10 feet away.
A trade for Drummond as a rental would also serve as a good experiment to see if Randle, now considered a long-term piece, has chemistry with Drummond, who’s a two-time All-Star but is considered an old-school center despite his improved passing and free-throw shooting.
Toronto was working on a deal for Drummond but the salary-cap mathematics are difficult. The Raptors would have to ship away multiple players. There’s talk Drummond could be bought out if no deal can be found.
One factor in support of adding Drummond is Noel’s knees. Noel missed five games this season with sore knees and now he’s averaging 27 minutes since Robinson’s injury. There is no timetable for Robinson’s return.
Noel has been in foul trouble and, according to some scouts, doesn’t have the size or strength to do consistently what Robinson does.