A few notes on the Knicks and the draft:
Earlier this month, a few teams told people around top draft prospects that the Knicks were looking into trading up for a top pick in this draft.
Just how hard New York had been looking into the possibility is unknown, but teams make calls every day to each other to gauge interest in potential deals. So the idea that the Knicks were “looking into” the possibility of trading up isn’t necessarily a sign that they are committed to doing so.
Several opposing teams expect the price to trade up to be a significant one, so you’d think the Knicks would likely have to give up RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson or a future pick(s) in order to move up. Just my opinion: I can’t see them trading Barrett to move up in this draft.
Who would New York target at the top of the draft?
Before the NBA season re-started in the bubble, LaMelo Ball was at the top of the Knicks’ draft list of point guards. According to a report in the New York Post, the club is also enamored with James Wiseman.
That report also stated that the Knicks were strongly considering trading back in the draft. That would conflict with what the teams mentioned above were saying earlier this month.
One conclusion to draw here? New York has been exploring all of its options ahead of the draft, including standing pat at No. 8 overall. We are still more than four weeks from draft night, making it reasonable to believe that every team is still exploring the different options available to them at this point.
(A disclaimer: NBA teams/agents/players/player managers regularly share information that benefits their own self-interests. That happens more frequently during the weeks leading up to the NBA Draft and free agency. Something to keep in mind as you hear information ahead of Nov. 18.)
The Knicks have the No. 8, No. 27 and No. 38 picks. They have expressed degrees of interest in Isaac Okoro, Devin Vassell, Killian Hayes, Kira Lewis Jr., Cole Anthony, Tyrese Haliburton, RJ Hampton, Theo Maledon, Tyrell Terry, Precious Achiuwa, Isaiah Joe and probably dozens of other prospects.
This draft is team president Leon Rose’s first opportunity to make a significant addition to the roster. It’s also an opportunity to reverse a troubling organizational trend.
The last Knicks first-round pick to sign a second contract with the team was Charlie Ward, who was drafted in 1994. The club has mostly struggled with player development in the last two decades. New York has invested heavily in this area under Rose, and this draft gives the organization an opportunity to show that it can identify and develop young talent.
One more note as you look ahead to draft night: my guess is that what happens leading up to the draft will impact New York’s plans that night. If the club makes a trade with Oklahoma City for Chris Paul, that will probably change their thinking heading into Nov. 18.
Something else to keep an eye on: some agents who represent top point guard free agents believe the Knicks would poke around on a potential Russell Westbrook trade if Houston makes him available. It’s worth noting that Westbrook, per sources, saw New York as a welcome landing spot last summer when Oklahoma City was talking to teams about potential trades.
Westbrook’s work ethic and drive would have an impact on New York’s young players. But the deal -- just like a potential Paul trade -- would obviously have to make sense for New York. If they are going to take on Westbrook’s contract (three years remaining, third year is a player option, $132 million in total), you’d think that the Knicks would look for an additional asset from Houston.