June 25, 2024

Knicks may swap two 2024 NBA Draft selections to hint at a star-studded summer.

NEW YORK: The New York Knicks will need to make a decision on their draft picks in one way or another. In the forthcoming 2024 NBA Draft, the Knicks will have two first-round picks: their own at No. 25, and the pick at No. 24, which they received as part of the Dallas Mavericks’ trade for Kristaps Porzingis. A successful season that saw the Knicks secure the Eastern Conference’s No. 2 seed ended with a second-round loss to the Indiana Pacers. The team was missing several key rotation players for its postseason run. What the front office does with those picks and when Knicks management makes a move will be indicative of the direction the organization will move in. All-Star forward Julius Randle (shoulder surgery), starting center Mitchell Robinson (ankle surgery), sixth man Bojan Bogdanovic (ankle surgery), and starting forward OG Anunoby (strained hamstring) were all sidelined for the entirety of the Knicks’ second round campaign. Anunoby only participated in Games 1 and 2 against the Pacers before missing Games 3 through 6 and all of Game 7. The emphasis now turns to strengthening the roster in order to have a deeper, more successful postseason run the following year. Furthermore, this is not a team that wants to develop its young players. Instead, this is a Knicks club with a core that has already shown it can compete at a high level. Because draft assets are most valued prior to being converted into rookie players on draft night, the Knicks have two assets they can employ as they hunt for stars this offseason. This is just one of many reasons why picks Nos. 24 and 25 are likely to be moved. With the exception of two, all of the Knicks’ main rotation players are signed for the upcoming campaign: Anunoby, who is anticipated to turn down the $19.9 million player option on his deal in favor of a salary increase this summer, and Isaiah Hartenstein, who will become an unrestricted free agent. This summer, Precious Achiuwa will also be eligible for restricted free agency. Since the Knicks would not have traded both RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley for a half-season rental, Anunoby is expected to re-sign in New York. As a result, the team projects to have Jalen Brunson, Josh Hart, Donte DiVincenzo, and Miles McBride as its core players, along with the injured Randle, Robinson, Bogdanovic, and Anunoby, on the roster come off the trade deadline. REMAIN AND USE SELECTIONS Ever since Leon Rose was appointed president of basketball operations, they have been successful at spotting potential late in the first round and even in the second round of draft classes. Quickley, McBride, Jericho Sims, and Quentin Grimes are among those late-draft discoveries. The Knicks could very well have a wish list of players in case they are unable to trade their selections. But trading the choices makes more sense for the Knicks’ schedule since it gives them a wider window of opportunity to contend. PACK THE SELECTIONS AND GO AHEAD This type of transaction occurs often. Team B only has picks Nos. 24 and 25, so they contact all teams who are picking in the lottery to see if one will bite. Team A might be persuaded to make a deal if Team B can secure a top-14 pick. The consensus is that this draft class is among the weakest in recent memory, therefore there isn’t much of a difference between players ranked five and twenty on many major selection boards. The Knicks might believe they can advance in the draft to choose a first-round pick if they can find a possible impact player. However, if they group their picks and advance in the draft order, it might be the start of a bigger transaction involving additional players and picks. PACKAGE THE SAMPLES IN A GREATER DISCOUNT FOR STAR A team looking to begin, or jump start, a rebuild will need to have both of its first-round picks if the Knicks plan to pursue stars this summer. For Kevin Durant, the Phoenix Suns, for instance, sent the Brooklyn Nets four first-round picks, a first-round pick swap, and two young rotation players (Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson). In exchange for James Harden from the Houston Rockets, the Nets received four first-round selection swaps, three first-round picks, and four rotation players (Jarrett Allen, Caris LeVert, and Taurean Prince). All of the first-round picks that the Knicks possess are in addition to a number of picks from other teams, including two from Detroit and Washington that have strong protections preventing them from being sent to New York and one each from Dallas (2024) and Milwaukee (2025). In addition, the Knicks will have more negotiating power if they use those picks in trade talks prior to draft night rather than holding onto a pick, choosing a player, and then trying to trade him later—though teams often choose players in a draft on behalf of other teams as part of trades that take place on draft night. A player’s ability to assist a rival squad is not diminished by the fact that he recently graduated from college. Ben Sheppard, for instance, was chosen by the Pacers with the 26th overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. Sheppard played in the second round against the Knicks and has continued to be a member of the starting lineup in the conference finals against the Boston Celtics. After selecting rookies in the same draft class as the previous year, the Mavericks and Thunder traded Dereck Lively II to Dallas and Cason Wallace to Oklahoma City. For the postseason runs of their own teams, each played significant minutes. However, Leonard Miller was unable to get any playing time for the Minnesota Timberwolves, and the Boston Celtics haven’t selected and used a rookie since selecting Aaron Nesmith with the 14th overall pick and Payton Pritchard with the 26th pick in 2020. The Knicks, a contender with a hectic offseason ahead of them, are at a crossroads with their first-round picks because not every contender has room for rookies.


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