Moe Harkless was born and raised in Queens, New York and played his college ball in his hometown, enjoying a standout one-and-done season at St. John’s University in the 2011-2012 campaign.
The 24-year-old wing has yet to make much of an impact at the NBA level over the first five years of his career. After spending the first three years suiting up for the Orlando Magic, Harkless settled into a reserve role for the Portland Trail Blazers in the 2015-2016 season, but started 69 of Portland’s 77 regular-season contests last year, averaging career-highs of 10.0 points, 4.4 rebounds and 28.9 minutes per game alongside Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum.
Since the Carmelo Anthony trade saga has included the Blazers, Harkless’ name is one of the few that has come up in rumors. Entering the second year of a four-year, $42 million contract in Portland, Harkless could presumably be a piece that the Blazers would be comfortable parting with, despite his young age and potential, if it meant creating a “Big Four” of Lillard, McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic and Anthony.
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The Knicks would receive a player who could step right into Anthony’s former spot at small forward on a team-friendly deal (given the current inflated landscape) and someone who new general manager Scott Perry is very fond of.
In fact, Harkless admitted that the two have a great relationship and still talk to this day. Their friendship stems from Harkless’ time in Orlando when Perry was the assistant GM.
“(Perry and I) had a really good relationship. We still have a good relationship. We actually spoke not too long ago. We talk all the time,” Harkless told Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. “He’s a real down-to-Earth guy, a real dude. He doesn’t really sugar coat stuff. So I think that’s why players take a liking to him.”
Since the Knicks are rebuilding and are seemingly attempting to create a new culture in the process, Perry might be interested in landing Harkless in a package in return for Melo.
Not only would Harkless represent a major change on the court, but he also has deep roots in his former community. In fact, he’s in town this weekend, hosting a camp at the Boys & Girls Club of Metro Queens. According to Bondy, on the final day of the camp on Sunday, the grateful Blazer will give away school supplies to the 64 student-athletes in attendance, who serve as a reminder to him about his own upbringing.
“I wanted to make sure I had the camp here,” Harkless said. “I was just like the kids in the camp.”
Although he plays geographically all the way across the United States, it’s obvious that his heart remains in the Big Apple. Before long, he might receive the chance to play for the home team at Madison Square Garden, especially if his relationship with Perry plays a role.