New York Knicks: Former St. John’s product comes home at NBA trade deadline

Maurice Harkless, Los Angeles Clippers. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
Maurice Harkless, Los Angeles Clippers. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) /

A hometown hero has returned. Thursday, the New York Knicks sent Marcus Morris to the LA Clippers for former SJU star Moe Harkless and other considerations.

After many New York Knicks fans were hemming and hawing on Marcus Morris‘ future with the franchise, GM/ Team President (Whatever you want to call him these days) Scott Perry traded the 6-9 forward to the Los Angeles Clippers at the NBA Trade Deadline Thursday afternoon. In return, NYK got former St. John’s star Moe Harkless and the Clips 2020 first-round pick.

While Morris boasted career numbers in his ninth season, “Mook” will join a Clippers team poised to make a deep playoff run in the Western Conference. It was time for him to move on. The New York Knicks landed future assets that will prove vital to the franchise in this decade, an unproven point guard from Ukraine and a familiar face on an expiring contract.

Moe Harkless, the 6-7 forward who the Clippers traded, is no stranger to the bright lights of New York City or the “World’s Most Famous Arena” Madison Square Garden.

Harkless is a Queens kid who opted to play locally at St. John’s for one season in 2011-12. After adding Big East Conference Player of the Year to his resume, under then-head coach Steve Lavin, Harkless declared for the NBA Draft.

In 32 games for the Red Storm, Harkless averaged 15.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.5 assists per contest.

Harkless was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers with the 15th selection of the 2012 NBA draft. It was the highest a Johnnies player was drafted since 1992, when Portland selected Malik Sealy at No. 14, in the 1992 NBA Draft. Harkless never donned a Philly uniform because he was involved in a four-team 12 player trade that shipped him to the Orlando Magic.

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After yet another trade, this time to Portland, he eventually became a starter for the Blazers. In 33 playoff games for Rip City, Harkless scored 300 points, 155 rebounds, and had 25 blocks.

Harkless must now feel dejected after he began the season playing alongside perennial All-Stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to now playing with Elfrid Payton and Bobby Portis. However, he is home and playing for his next contract.

With eight years of professional experience in the NBA, Harkless has to have picked up a thing or two from his time in the Magic, Trail Blazers and Clippers organizations. He probably won’t crack the Knicks starting rotation and Mike Miller shouldn’t give him that nod since the young guys should play, but he can prove to be a solid mentor to RJ Barrett, Kevin Knox, and Damyean Dotson. 

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Over his career 525 NBA appearances, Harkless is averaging 7.2 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 0.9 assists, per game.