If you’re wondering why, the reason for that is very simple although it goes all the way across the globe as it’s related to a little big fella from the Eastern region of Europe: Kristaps Porzingis.
Back in 2019, the Knicks traded Porzingis, along with Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Courtney Lee to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews, Dennis Smith Jr., a 2021 1st-round pick, and a top-10 protected 2023 1st-round pick.
That last pick is the one Dallas “tanked” for this season. The Mavs basically ditched a last-week chance at making the play-in, favoring instead grabbing hold of that supremely overvalued 10th selection instead of surrendering it to the Knicks in the event of Dallas making it to the pre-post-season with the 11th or 12th seed.
Had the top-10 protection guaranteed Dallas any solid probability of landing generational talent Victor Wembanyama, the tanking would have made sense. But it did not with the Mavs having just 3% odds of securing that coveted no. 1 pick.
Obviously, the bouncy balls didn’t go Dallas’ way on Lottery Day and the Mavs stayed put in the 10th slot, winning the day judging by their regular-season antics and happily depriving New York of getting a lone 2023 draft pick.
To which we ask: should the New York Knicks be worried and look into purposely trading into the NBA draft?
Last February, the Knicks traded their last chance at selecting a freshly tender rookie when they acquired super-sub Josh Hart from the Portland Trail Blazers ahead of the deadline.
The transaction was a huge one, literally and figuratively.
February 9, 2023: As part of a 4-team trade, Hart was traded by the Portland Trail Blazers with Dani Diez and Bojan Dubljevic to the New York Knicks; the Charlotte Hornets traded Jalen McDaniels and a 2024 2nd round draft pick ( was later selected) to the Philadelphia 76ers; the New York Knicks traded Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk to the Charlotte Hornets; the New York Knicks traded Ryan Arcidiacono, Cam Reddish and Ante Tomic to the Portland Trail Blazers; the Philadelphia 76ers traded a 2023 2nd round draft pick ( was later selected) to the Charlotte Hornets; the Philadelphia 76ers traded Matisse Thybulle to the Portland Trail Blazers; the Portland Trail Blazers traded a 2027 2nd round draft pick ( was later selected) to the Charlotte Hornets; and the Portland Trail Blazers traded a 2029 2nd round draft pick ( was later selected) to the Philadelphia 76ers. Charlotte also received a trade exception 2023 2nd-rd pick is more favorable 2027 2nd-rd pick is more favorable Philadelphia also received a trade exception 2024 2nd-rd pick is NYK own 2029 2nd-rd pick is POR own Portland also received a trade exception. — Basketball-Reference.com
It involved nine players, four teams, and a plethora of moving draft picks—including the Knicks’ 2023 1st-round pick, then slotted in 23rd place. The Knicks had already sent their 2nd-round pick (no. 53) more than a year ago, and none of the protected picks (from other franchises) in New York’s possession conveyed in time for the 2023 Freshman Event.
If you remember what happened last June, in the 2022 NBA Draft, then you already know the Knicks decided to trade away their 11th selection (Ousmane Dieng) to OKC. They also made another trade, acquiring the rights to Jalen Duren only to send the rookie to Detroit along with Kemba Walker in exchange for some future draft picks.
It was all a big freaking mess, but here we are today with the Knicks having crashed out of the Easter Conference Semi-Finals for the first time in 10 years and no draft picks on their (near) horizon.
The Knicks can still draft a rookie this June, though. Of course, they will need to acquire those rights first, somehow, someway.
Although not directly, last June our beloved friend “Cash Considerations” was involved in as many as 11 trades that ended up in 2022 draft picks. On the very own draft night, all three of Atlanta, Minnesota, and Indiana acquired cash in three different deals involving second-round picks.
So, if the Knicks want to draft someone, the most straightforward path toward getting a pick is just ponying up a bunch of dough, sending it somewhere across the nation, and drafting a kid in the 50-through-58 clip, late in the second round. If that’s all it takes, well, maybe it makes at least some sense.
Other than that cheap option, though, the Knicks might be better staying away from drafting some random bozo in exchange for another draft pick, let alone a player currently on their roster—other, perhaps, than 2022 second-rounder and 42nd overall pick Trevor Keels.
That’s because acquiring a draft pick, whether that’s a second- or first-round selection, would take New York trading valuable (present or future) assets. There is a parallel universe in which trading a future first in exchange for a 2023 pick yields a perennial MVP. Of course, there is. There is also another version of that timeline in which resources are wasted in what can be considered borderline malpractice by a front office that has been hitting all nails on their head for months on end.
The most probable outcome here, depending on how things shape in the next few weeks, is that New York ends up moving something/someone either on the day of the draft or later, once the free agency hits next July and decisions are made.
Entirely out of context, though, the Knicks look like a long-shot franchise to bet on when it comes to dealing draft picks, and even further from the picture of organizations poised to trade into the second or first round of this year’s event.
The roster is filled and is coming off a semi-deep postseason run. Quentin Grimes was only a second-year player, yet he was there fighting playoff battles on starting lineups nightly. RJ Barrett, in case you are a bit lost, hasn’t yet turned 23 years old. Hell, RJ is just one month older than Grimes, and Immanuel Quickley was born in June ‘99.
Mitchell Robinson arrived on Planet Earth one day after 1998 MLB’s Opening Day, and Obi Toppin not even a month before him. Julius Randle was born mere days after the 1994 NBA’s tip-off day, and Villanova alumni Josh Hart and Jalen Brunson graced the world in March 1995 and August 1996.
Other than Derrick Rose (free agent in July) and Evan Fournier (trade bait in July), the New York Knicks entered the 2023 postseason featuring a roster filled with under-30s players.
There is no need for this team to trade for a mediocre, young draftee just for the sake of it.
Can they? Yes. Should they? Hell, no.