Knicks could trade away one of two first-round picks ahead of draft

Dec 5, 2023; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; New York Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau gestures towards New York Knicks guard Josh Hart (3) on the sideline against the Milwaukee Bucks in the first half at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks have some interesting draft decisions to make this month. Coming off of a very successful season, the Knicks also have the luxury of owning three draft picks this year, two of which are in the first round.

However, there is growing suspicion that the Knicks will trade at least one of their two first-round picks given the status of the roster. With most of the team set for next season, there is not a lot of room for rookies to receive ample playing time on this Knicks roster. Instead of using all of their picks to draft players, they could use them in a trade for an already-established NBA star.

ESPN analysts don’t expect the Knicks to keep their picks this year

Ryan Dunn, Knicks
Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN’s latest mock draft done by Johnathan Givony and Jeremy Woo has the Knicks taking Duke’s Kyle Flipowski with the 24th pick and Virginia’s Ryan Dunn with the 25th pick. Despite this, they both highlighted that either one of those picks could go to another team based on the widespread speculation that the Knicks won’t use both first-rounders in the draft this year.

“Most teams don’t expect the Knicks to keep both of their first-round picks, meaning this selection might very well end up in another team’s hands. Trading one of their two picks for a future first-rounder would likely help for trade flexibility down the road, but it remains to be seen what the market will look like on draft night, as picks in the early second round are being viewed as valuable ones due to the salary cap and luxury tax flexibility they offer,” Givony wrote regarding Fliposwki.

“Rival teams expect New York may trade one of these picks in the 20s, so it’s possible another team selects for the Knicks here,” Woo wrote regarding Dunn.

The Knicks have traded picks several times in recent years

The Knicks are no stranger to trading draft picks. During the 2023 season, the Knicks traded away their first-round pick for that year’s draft in exchange for Josh Hart. Also, In 2022, they traded their lone first-round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder on draft night (the pick was used on Ousame Dieng), and traded away both of their first-rounders in 2021.

May 10, 2024; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; New York Knicks guard Josh Hart (3) reacts to a made basket during game three of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs against the Indiana Pacers at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Given the fact that there is a chance they could lose at least one of OG Anunoby and Isaiah Hartenstein in free agency this summer, New York may actually use at least one of their first-round picks to develop a potential long-term rotation player, a different strategy to the draft than in recent years. Along with Dunn, the Knicks have been mocked to some other big names that could appear late in the first round, such as Baylor’s Yves Missi and Purdue’s Zach Edey.

There is also the chance that they trade away both first-round picks to add future picks and fill out the remaining roster spots with veterans under the league minimum, or use the picks they have this year in a draft day trade for a star player, though such a trade does not occur often.

Whoever they do select in the draft – if they bring in anybody – it is unlikely that they will be inserted into head coach Tom Thibodeau’s rotation right away. Rather, they will develop them by splitting time between the pros and the G League, which will allow them to view what an NBA game brings and also gain experience playing in the G League.

It is still unclear which direction the Knicks are heading in coming into the draft, but if history serves itself well, expect some movement to occur with their draft picks this year.

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