Here's our Knicks mailbag with SNY's NBA Insider Ian Begley...
@The__Cooler: There are now 3 potential stars in the 2021 NBA Draft: Jonathan Kuminga, Jalen Green and Cade Cunningham. In 2002, Knicks won 37 games and picked Mike Sweetney at 9. LeBron, Melo, D Wade and Bosh went Top 5. Will history repeat itself if the Knicks sign win-now vets this offseason?
I get the thought behind tanking for the 2021 NBA Draft. Many draft experts are high on next year’s class, which includes the players you mentioned in your question.
But if I had to guess, I don’t think the Knicks will make decisions this offseason with an eye solely on the 2021 NBA Draft. I think it’s more likely that they add some veterans who can help the young players build winning habits and help them snap their streak of six straight seasons with a winning percentage below .400.
This is similar to what New York did last summer after missing out on Kevin Durant and their other top targets in free agency. They signed veterans on short-term deals with the hope of creating a competitive environment for young players and winning games.
Obviously, it didn’t work out that way. And some of the veterans may have hindered the development of the young Knicks (Kevin Knox).
No one’s asking me, but the key, I think, is to add veterans who complement your young players. Salary aside, Chris Paul is an example of a veteran who can help your young players immeasurably.
Just a guess, but I think the Knicks are more likely to add a veteran – or veterans – like Paul this offseason than they are to take a Sam Hinkie-like approach to roster building.
Is this the best pathway forward? Reasonable people can disagree on that. But however this offseason plays out, I think it’s logical to give new team president Leon Rose and his group some time to execute their strategy before we assess whether or not it’s working.
@Joshx_: Who are we targeting in the draft?
@avil545: Who’s the ideal pick in this draft?
@_Gesch: Who to draft at (6)?
@Knickszfeed: Any prospects the Knicks have shown interest in? What players are they looking at for each pick of the draft?
@kurtzTeddy: Who do you think the Knicks will select in the draft?
In a perfect world, I think the Knicks would take the best point guard in the draft. But given where they’re picking (8), I assume they’ll end up taking the best player available at that point in the draft. It’s impossible to try to guess who that will be because it’s obviously based on what the seven teams drafting ahead of New York do.
We know they scouted UNC’s Cole Anthony extensively during the college season, FSU’s Devin Vassell has fans in the organization, they’ve talked to Killian Hayes on a Zoom call, and they’ve also talked to RJ Hampton on a Zoom call. I’m sure they have spoken to dozens of other prospects on Zoom calls and will speak to dozens more between now and the Nov. 18 NBA Draft.
If they go with the best player available at No. 8, I’d think they’d target a point guard or a big who can shoot with the No. 27 pick.
@Stay_Me7v0: Who is your pick in this draft? What do you believe the Knicks can trade to move up from (6)?
If the Knicks are looking to move up in the draft, it’s hard to see how a two-team trade with Golden State will work. The Warriors, you’d think, would be looking for a veteran who fits the timeline of their core (Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green). The Knicks can’t offer that player, so they’d probably have to do a multi-team deal to move up to No. 2.
In general, it’s logical to assume that the other teams picking ahead of New York would want cap relief, another draft pick or a young player (RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson) in a trade for their lottery pick.
The Knicks can offer all of those things, but they’d obviously have to absolutely love the player they’re picking to sacrifice those assets in a trade.
@TomBabs: Talk about moving Ntilikina?
These are terrible questions in press conference settings, but perfect for the mailbag. We talked about this a few months ago and I still think it holds true: I don’t think the Knicks will shop Ntilikina aggressively this offseason in the way they did prior to the 2019 NBA Draft. Obviously, Ntilikina isn’t untouchable. If a team wants Ntilikina and is offering a player the Knicks covet, I don’t think Ntilikina holds up that deal. But I don’t see them trying to trade him for a late first/early second-round pick prior to the draft, as they did in 2019. That being said, there will be roster turnover. That’s what happens when new management comes in. It’s part of life in the NBA. Knicks players are well aware of this. One Knick – a player who isn’t entering unrestricted free agency – doesn’t expect to be back in 2020-21 because of the new regime in charge. He’s almost surely not the only Knick who expects to be elsewhere next year. That’s part of life in the NBA when there is a new regime in charge.
@krispursiainen: Do you think the team will pursue a veteran PG regardless of who they draft? For example, someone like Goran Dragic to play with and mentor a prospect like LaMelo?
I haven’t heard anything specifically about Dragic, Kris, but I do think the Knicks will look to acquire a veteran point guard in the offseason whether it’s via trade (Chris Paul?) or free agency.
@ZakJaden: Acquiring either Lillard or Booker
Trading for either player seemed like a long shot. It seems like a longer shot now because of Phoenix’s success in the bubble. If they can win games around Booker next season and show that they’re headed in the right direction, would Booker ask for a trade? Seems unlikely. If you’re a Knicks fan who wants Booker, you need to be rooting for the Suns to struggle.
Damian Lillard has said dozens of times that he wants to remain in Portland and win there. A few years ago, people around Lillard thought he’d be better off in a bigger market and saw New York as a potential destination. But based on everything Lillard has said, it seems like he’s never going to force a trade from Portland. The Blazers would have to be ready to move on from Lillard for the point guard to land in New York.
@RJPeteQuadsSZN: Any chance at Donovan Mitchell
Another long-shot. Mitchell, per Yahoo Sports, will sign a max extension with Utah this offseason. The move makes sense for many reasons, particularly because of the uncertainty surrounding future NBA salary caps.
To land in New York, Mitchell would have to ask for a trade to the Knicks. Maybe that happens sometime over the course of his contract? But it’s hard to see it happening in the first year of the deal. For those Knicks fans holding out hope for Mitchell it’s worth noting that earlier in the 2019-20 season, some of Mitchell’s teammates privately expressed uncertainty over whether he’d remain with the Jazz long-term.
@KevinZwicker: How likely do you think AD signs a 1+1 deal with the Lakers and the Knicks go after him and try to pair him with another star in 2021
I think Anthony Davis, along with most other players with options for 2020-21, will opt in to his deal with the Lakers. That means he’ll test free agency in 2021. Given that Davis’ agent, Rich Paul, said on the record that he considered the Knicks as a potential destination when he was seeking a trade from New Orleans, I’m sure the Knicks will do their due diligence on Davis as a target for free agency in 2021.