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August P&T mailbag, part 2: keep or trade the first pick, Anthony Davis and “fatal attraction” players

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Distract your ping-pong ball anxiety with some empty calories.

Portland Trail Blazers v Los Angeles Lakers - Game One Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

In part one of this August’s mailbag, we touched on Rod Strickland, irrationally loved Knicks of the past and my most fun moment as a Knicks fan. Presented without interruption, here is part two.

1) If the Knicks lucked into the number 1 pick, who should they take? Or should they flip it and trade for a star?

— knicksfan84

This question is like watching a streetfight being the sound of one hand clapping and the tree that falls in the forest with no one there to hear it. How do you pick a winner between two concepts that seem impossible?

The Knicks never move up in the draft, they don’t keep their draft picks around and they haven’t traded for a star since Carmelo Anthony (from deep within the bowels of Moria, the Derrick Rose stans rise, a nation aggrieved). I guess the answer depends on who you like at the top of this lottery, how much you like them, and what star we’re talking about.

Would I trade the pick I’d use on Anthony Edwards for Donovan Mitchell? Maybe. If that allows me to keep Mitchell Robinson or RJ Barrett out of a deal that would otherwise include them, I’d probably decide Mitchell’s youth plus track record beats the upside but uncertainty of Edwards, or any rookie. Would I trade the top pick for Bradley Beal? Doubtful; he’s 27, which doesn’t fit whatever competitive timeline the Knicks are in.

Would I trade Lonzo Ball for Ben Simmons? Hell yes. Would I trade him for Joel Embiid? I love that dude, but the same reasons I supported the KP trade the day it went down and supported passing on Kevin Durant apply to Embiid — the injury risk is prohibitive, given what it’d cost to land him.

As for who they should take, I’ll tell you what, man: if the Knicks somehow win tonight’s lottery, I will devote an entire piece next week to who they should draft, and why. But I fear that very soon our vision is going to shift from Lonzo/Edwards to Okoro/Halliburton.

2) If the Knicks should do the impossible and sign Anthony Davis, how much joy will come from knowing what the Lakers traded to get him?

— Russ

The Knicks add an All-World big man in his prime, just for money? And it gets them over on the Lakers and LeBron?

3) Who is your “fatal attraction” player? The player you most want on the Knicks right now but you know in your heart that it wouldn’t work? LeBron doesn’t count.

— OnceAnOak

Giannis Antetokounmpo seems an obvious choice, since he defines “marvel” as both a noun and a verb, and wouldn’t be out of place as a superhero in the next Marvel movie, and since I cannot imagine any turn of events ever leading him to 33rd and 8th unless he’s old or wracked by injuries that render his contract an albatross. Also, given that Antetkounmpo was born to Nigerian parents who emigrated to a country whose government abandons refugees at sea in rudderless, motorless inflatable boats, can we all agree to stop erasing his Africanness by calling him the Greek Freak?

Damian Lillard is another strong candidate. But the Oakland-born Portland star is just sooo left coast to me. I’d honestly feel kinda sad for him in New York, as much as I’d relish the chance to watch him catching fire night during the long upstate winter nights. If Lillard ever ended up on the Knicks, it’d mean something went horribly wrong for him. I don’t wish that on that dude. I’d love to see him finish his career as a Blazer for life.

Really, for me the answer is easy: Steph Curry. Because I think there are a lot of dimensions where Curry ends up on the Knicks in the next couple years. But in most of them New York either trades a ton to acquire him and extends him after his prime, or they get him when he’s a free agent, at age 34. Either way it happens, I get flashbacks to Pedro Martinez with the Mets.

Pedro is my favorite baseball player ever, so I’m not coming after him here. The Mets were right to sign him, no matter that the back end of his contract was disappointing. The brilliance he brought his first couple years coupled with his gravity attracting other stars into Shea Stadium’s orbit — Carlos Beltrán and Carlos Delgado, for starters — made signing Martinez a holistic slam dunk.

However, no matter how much the Wilpons try to act like they’re hamstrung by a salary cap, they’re not. The Knicks are. If Steph came here for a big trade package and/or a max deal and only played well for half of it, the Knicks would have made a lot of noise to end up saying the same shit as always: back to the drawing board.

4) What are your three favorite things about summer? And if each was a Knick, which Knick would they be?

— old 34

I love that it’s light out for so long. There are nights it’s still light out near 10:00. It’s one of those visceral childhood joys you never stop re-living, no matter how old you get. In my time watching the Knicks, that reminds me of Herb Williams. Dude stuck around way longer than seemed possible. Plus Herb the player was easy to love, same as summer.

I love bare feet in the summer. In grass, at the beach, on asphalt. I live in western New York, where for most of the year the ground is covered in ice, snow, slush and salt. The hippie bits of my soul long to just kick off my shoes forever and let my feet feel the earth. That’s David Lee to me: a dude who made you feel good, even though all the while you longed for a better world than ours to enjoy him more fully in. It didn’t come, but that just made you appreciate what you had while you could. That is 100% what summer is like in a place like Rochester.

I love taking my daughter out for ice cream. It reminds me of my family doing that when I was a kid. And it brings her so much happiness. And it gives me a chance to eat ice cream. God I love ice cream. I can’t compare any Knick to ice cream. I’d give the Knicks up way before ice cream.

That’s all for the August mailbag. Tune in to tonight’s lottery if you can. I haven’t had cable since the Knicks stopped playing, but you can get YouTube TV for free till the end of this month. Or check your phone for updates, or if you’re an egg cream old-fashioned sort, get yourself the next day’s newspaper, ideally from a streetwise tow-headed golden-hearted newsie. We’ll have lottery coverage as it occurs and I’ll have a real-time diary for you Friday. Excelsior, true believers!

xx