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Reports: Knicks still angling for a first-rounder, considering trading Iman Shumpert

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Draft night is Thursday and the Knicks want to get involved.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA Draft is Thursday. As of today, the Knicks still don't have any stake in it, but they're trying. Folks stay assuming the Knicks will at least buy a second-rounder, which wouldn't happen until draft night itself. They're aiming a bit higher, too:

Recall that the Knicks had a deal in place to trade Shumpert for Oklahoma City's first-rounder (which ended up being the 29th pick), but demurred when they found a deal they liked better with the Clippers (who were reportedly willing to take Raymond Felton as well) only to have that one fall apart, too. Remember Shump spraining his MCL right before the deadline? Remember the Clippers plane waiting on the runway until the deadline passed and all that? Good times.

Anyway, as Marc Berman recently supposed could be the case, Shump is again the subject of phone calls, back in trade rumors for like the ninth time in his short career. A few things about this:

- We can-- and do!-- argue for weeks on end about Shumpert's past and potential and how he might fare with new management, a new coach, and a new system. What ultimately matters is Shumpert's next contract-- his cheap rookie deal will end next summer, meaning the Knicks can either extend him or make him a $3.7 million qualifying offer and play the restricted free agency game. Or let him walk for nothing. I wouldn't dare even guess how big a deal Shump could win after four years in the league and one year under Derek Fisher, but the point is he'll be due money-- more money-- the same summer in which New York will reportedly try to buy a new team. If the Knicks don't expect they'll want to sign Shumpert's next contract, they might as well trade him. Perhaps he'd be more valuable to other teams at mid-season than he is this week, though.

- Oklahoma City has the 29th pick and the 21st pick (via three other teams). The 29th pick is a pretty shitty pick in my estimation. It's early enough that you have to sign the rookie to a guaranteed contract (albeit a smaller one than Shumpert's next deal), but late enough that you get second-round-y kinda talent. I suspect the Knicks would rather have the 31st pick than the 29th pick to permit more flexibility. Of course, so would any other team. The 21st pick, though? That's closer to the lottery than the second round. You can still get some dudes at 21. Some real, live dudes.

- And then there's this between those two picks:

For some reason, Shump on the Heat offends me way more than Melo on the Heat, but yeah, there's that. I'd push for that 21st pick.

(Update: Phoenix and the 27th pick are also a reported option. They also have 14 and 18. Thanks to Bryan Gibberman for that one.)

- As far as I've been able to find, the only first-round-projected (currently 22nd on DX) guy the Knicks have worked out is P.J. HairstonKen Berger mentions additional interest in Syracuse's Tyler Ennis, though he did so while dropping this weekend's bomb about New York forfeiting almost half their yearly spending money in last year's Andrea Bargnani trade. The Knicks only have $1.8 million in cash left to offer, so they're almost certainly out of the running to straight-up purchase a first-rounder, though Stein says they're still looking.

- Remember, the Bulls pick 16th and 19th. If the Knicks sign-and-trade Carmelo Anthony to the Bulls in July, one or both of those rookies could be part of the return package. But the Bulls get to make those picks themselves unless they send them elsewhere in a smaller trade (which...hey! Maybe they could do that with the Knicks! Make what appears to be an uneven deal before draft night with the understanding that a Melo trade is coming after the 1st! But that would require some collusion! Forget you ever read this! Seriously don't pay attention to this part.)

To summarize: The Knicks would like to step into the late first round and have guys in mind if they get there. There's no way New York has enough cash to just buy a first-rounder, so they'd have to trade (perhaps Iman Shumpert) for one. Or they could shoot for the second round and hope someone (perhaps a team like the 76ers with more picks than open roster spots) will toss them a pick for that $1.8 million.

Update: And here's this!