The Knicks have first round aspirations.

We've heard for a while that Donnie Walsh and friends were interested in buying or trading into the first round on Thursday. An actual transaction likely won't take place until draft night (as the Toney Douglas purchase did last year), but Frank Isola of The Daily News has what he believes to be the short list of first round targets.

The Knicks are looking to trade into the first round of Thursday's draft to select one of three players, including Maryland guard Greivis Vasquez, a team official told the Daily News late Monday.

The club is debating between Vasquez, Iowa State power forward Craig Backins and New Mexico small forward Darington Hobson. Brackins had a strong workout with the Knicks, who see him as a legitimate 3-point threat.

Note that Isola specifically invokes the notion of a "trade" for an earlier pick. Dealing an actual live human being probably wouldn't be necessary to move up, so I assume the "trade" referred to is merely a duffel bag of cash for a draft pick. Each of the three mentioned could fall as far as 38, but the Knicks will start wheeling and dealing if they sense that an earlier team covets their target. The Grizzlies, Thunder, and Nets each have multiple selections in the late first and early second rounds, so those could be willing trade partners. Meanwhile, Isola mentions the Bulls (17) as a club willing to move its pick, which would be a whole different ballgame. A shot at 17 would put the Knicks well into the running for Eric Bledsoe, Larry Sanders, Ekpe Udoh, and others who are considered surefire first-rounders.

All told, the rumors foreshadow another busy, unpredictable draft night. Stay vigilant.

Update: Tommy Dee also points out that the Heat are looking to sell at 18.

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