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How the Bradley Beal trade might affect the Knicks’ trove of protected first-round picks

Time for some pick theory.

New York Knicks v Washington Wizards Photo by Jess Rapfogel/Getty Images

The Washington Wizards completed their long-debated trade of star guard Bradley Beal on Sunday. While a recent Eastern Conference bottom-dweller trading a player to Phoenix might not seem to matter much to the Knicks at first blush, there is a fascinating Knicks-adjacent angle here. The Knicks own a protected first-round pick from the Wizards which has not yet conveyed. The protections on this pick last another three years:

  • 2024: Top-12 protected
  • 2025: Top-10 protected
  • 2026: Top-8 protected
  • If it doesn’t convey after 2026, it becomes two seconds

The prevailing theory right now is that the Beal trade is the first move in a full-blown Washington tank-job. That could certainly prove bad for any chance of that pick conveying to the Knicks in the next three years! But, please, notice I used the word “could.” I’ve seen several hysterical takes on social media: The Knicks are screwed! That pick is worthless!

Let’s calm down for a second. The pick is not worthless. Even if the Wizards tank to the utmost next season, there’s no knowing what their roster will look like by 2025-26. Yes, their new team president may have authority from ownership to strip the roster bare, but that doesn’t mean an indefinite, Sam Hinkie-style tank. The vast majority of NBA front offices don’t have the sort of carte blanche to languish at the bottom of the league for three seasons.

So what are the odds that the Wizards pick conveys to the Knicks as a first? Honestly, I have no idea. Nobody does. And the Knicks still have plenty of firsts to play with in the meantime. Let’s all calm down, folks.