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P&T Round(ball) Table, part two: What if the Knicks trade the No. 3 pick?

Can the Knicks trade and persuade their way into more assets?

NCAA Basketball Tournament - West Regional - Anaheim Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Welcome to part two of a three-part Posting and Toasting exclusive series on what the Knickerbockers of New York should do with the third pick in the NBA draft. In our first part, the esteemed panel of Knicks blog bois were making the argument for their preferred prospect at the three spot until Drew Steele decided to go off script to make the take of “trade the pick.” Before Drew could even make his case, the greatest collection of Knicks writers interjected. Here is what ensued.

Stingy: Shut up, Doug. Sekou Doumbouya doesn’t have subtle nuance to his offensive game.

Although, maybe Doug’s got a point for once. If some team is willing to move multiple assets for the presumed opportunity of letting R.J. Barrett run their offense (into a wall), I would celebrate that route. The lower the slot, the lower the rookie salary is. That could open up even more free agent cash. Lest we forget it could still net Jarrett Culver, who happens to be the better player, and an additional whack or two in the draft never hurt anybody. There are plenty of players in the lottery that will be excellent pros. I think several of them are better than Barrett anyway.

The question becomes what does that look like? It could be pretty cut and dry with Atlanta, pick three for eight and 10. Or possibly to Phoenix or Cleveland for their pick and another asset.

Lames: Can we trade Mudbuttiay and Dennis Smith Jr. for Ja Morant? We should do that if we can. Added benefit: Ja is Stinky’s favorite prospect of all time.

Stingy: Please shuttle this fool back to psychiatric. I’d be happy to ship Dennis Smith Jr. out of town for any first round pick at all. Morant is tremendous, but I see more holes in his game than Barrett’s. Regardless, Mudiay gots to go. No matter what the Professor says.

MMiranda: No apologies from me. I love Mudiay. And you know what love means.

When I close my eyes and imagine July, I still see Kevin Durant going to the Clippers or the Nets or anywhere that isn’t the Knicks. Even if KD comes and brings a super friend with him to 4 Pennsylvania Plaza, I don’t wanna throw all my eggs into the 2020, 2021, or 2022 basket. I dig adding a guy who could play a role in the near-future while still be making a difference in 2025. Someone like...Barrett.

So the only way I consider trading New York’s highest pick in 34 years — and my oh my, how fast we move from “I’m tired of the Knicks always picking in the latter half of the lottery!” to “Meh” — is if they maintain a shot at a high-impact player this year plus something meaningfully more. Atlanta’s No. 8 and No. 10 picks? You best be joking. If Cleveland wants to trade their No. 5 and their unprotected first next year, I’m listening; that could yield two top-five picks. You may be thinking “That’s more than Dallas paid for Luka Dončić.” You may be thinking Dan Gilbert hears that offer and takes a split second break from exploiting the masses to say:

Good! The Cavs still have a first-round pick from Houston next year. If they value Barrett that highly, let ‘em prove it. If not, let them keep their pick and build a life around Collin Sexton and Cam Reddish. Let the Hawks pull a Celtics and hoard a supernumerary stable of young would-be stars who don’t get enough minutes or money between them and eventually pull apart.

For once, the Knicks have a valued asset in an upcoming draft. If other teams want R.J. Barrett, they gotta pay. If not? Welcome home, Rowan, son of Rowan.

Stingy: Listen! You smell something?

Shwinnypooh: Miranda, if the Knicks can trade down to five, draft Culver, and pick up a future first with the same protections — top-five protected for two years, top-three protected and then unprotected — they should absolutely do it. In your hypothetical where the Knicks get left at the altar by Durant and his groomsman and are continuing to rebuild, collecting more assets is the smart play and that hypothetical trade is more than enough.

An additional benefit of trading down for the Knicks is that it would open up two max slots without the Knicks having to do anything. So effectively, the trade would be a pick swap, an additional first, and not having to dump Frank Ntilikina or Dennis Smith Jr. if they get Durant and his plus-one to commit. Even if you think Ntilikina is the shittiest player of all time or that Smith Jr. is a fool’s gold level of player, that’s useful if for nothing else than the Knicks having their contracts to use as salary filler in any potential trade.

And I’ll die on “Culver is every bit the prospect, if not an outright better one, than Barrett” Island.

Alex: Stingy, that wasn’t very nice. I have a gland problem!

I’m kinda with this whole trade down idea, though. Atlanta’s two picks certainly seem ripe for the picking (thanks yet again, Dallas!). The Hawks are maybe foolish enough to think that they definitely have the next Steph/Klay/Dray on the roster with Trae Young, Kevin Huerter, and John Collins (that’s what The Ringer told me!!), so let’s take advantage of that and get two picks in a deep (but non-top-heavy) draft.

May I introduce the love of my life, Brandon Clarke? (Sorry to my wife, but Brandon and I have something special.) Sure, he’s going to be 23 years old by the time next season starts. And sure, he’s lacking a little bit in the physical measurables department for a presumptive power forward in the NBA:

But it’s not about the size of the boat, it’s the motion of the ocean. And Clarke’s ocean’s got some pretty sexy motion:

This dude’s maybe the best defensive player in this draft (4.4 stocks per game this year, whew lawd), and might be the best athlete not named Zion (editor note: for the one person who doesn’t know what “stocks” are, it’s steals plus blocks). On top of that, he showed a lot of improvement in his one year at Gonzaga after transferring from San Diego State. He’s definitely done growing physically (which kinda sucks) but in a league where “position” matters less and less, who cares? Get eight and 10 and take Clarke (a relative sure thing) and, like, Kevin Porter Jr.? Romeo Langford? Someone who’s less of a complete product but has definite upside.

Shwinnypooh: I love Brandon Clarke, but I’d be furious if we trade down for the Hawks picks to take him and fucking Romeo Langford. Please stop.

Alex: I hate you.

Shwinnypooh: If we’re trading down I want to get a future pick, not just an extra first in this draft, mostly because I don’t think this draft is very good.

Drew: Brandon Clarke doesn’t even make sense next to Mitchell Robinson... unless the Block Ness Monster can be a league-average catch-and-shoot three-point shooter. Even then, it would be a tight fit with the spacing. And let’s not forget that I proclaimed on Locked On Knicks that Brandon Clarke will be a bust.

My good friends Stingy and Shwin are correct in the trade down approach: trade back to, like, pick five and grab a future pick from the Cavaliers; bank on the Lakers picking Klutch client Cam Reddish (big time bust) or some guy named Garland; and select Jarrett Culver. The salary difference between pick three and five allows the Knicks to not have to worry about trading a current player on the roster to free up that 30 percent max deal first-year figure. So not only do you get Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving/Kemba Walker, you get the better fit and better prospect in Culver to play along side them at a cheaper rate.

HOWEVER, there is an argument for keeping the third pick, but not in terms of selecting Barrett or Culver. What if the Pelicans want that third pick to secure their desired running mate with Zion in an Anthony Davis trade? What if whoever takes over the Wizards wants to completely start from scratch and is willing to trade Bradley Beal? So I pose this question: should the Knicks trade the third pick for an established player?

Will Miranda’s love affair with Emmanuel Mudiay continue? Does James Marceda actually take time to write more than three sentences? Is there going to be a special appearance from a prominent celebrity Knicks fan? Tune in for the third and final part of this Posting and Toasting exclusive roundtable to find out!