OKC Thunder emerge as Knicks’ rival for trade-up candidate Jaden Ivey

Mar 25, 2022; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Purdue Boilermakers guard Jaden Ivey (23) shoots against St. Peter's Peacocks forward KC Ndefo (11) in the second half in the semifinals of the East regional of the men's college basketball NCAA Tournament at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Mitchell Leff-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks are not the only team cooking up a trade-up scenario for Purdue’s Jaden Ivey with eight days left before the NBA Draft.

Oklahoma City Thunder, with a seemingly bottomless draft capital, are also reportedly eyeing Ivey along with Shaedon Sharpe in a trade involving their No. 12 pick. Unless the Thunder offer Shai Gilgeous-Alexander or Josh Giddey which is highly unlikely, the Knicks have the upper hand if they engage with Sacramento for its No. 4 pick. The King’s lottery pick is reportedly widely available for a pick swap and a proven veteran who could help the Kings end their 16-year playoff drought.

The Thunder have been doing their due diligence on Ivey, including inviting him to a workout.

Ivey is the projected No. 4 pick of this year’s draft behind three freshmen — Auburn’s Jabari Smith, Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren and Duke’s Paolo Banchero.

However, Ivey is reportedly not keen on landing in Sacramento.

“The Kings aren’t Ivey’s preferred destination but have proved willing to take players without the benefit of workouts and medical information in the past, doing so as recently as a year ago when selecting Davion Mitchell,” ESPN’s Jonathan Givony wrote in his latest mock draft.

It’s an open secret that the Knicks covet Ivey after using one of their 20 interview slots at the NBA Draft Combine and being front and center in his Pro Day. Add the fact that Ivey is a Creative Artists Agency client. Ivey shares the same agent (CAA’s Austin Brown) with Knicks former lottery pick Obi Toppin.

The Knicks are reportedly monitoring Ivey’s projected range in the draft.

“Something worth noting: Members of the organization have sought information on which teams have a strong interest in Ivey. So, at the very least, they have an interest in where Ivey may go in the draft,” SNY’s Ian Begley wrote.

The 6-foot-4 Ivey averaged 17.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists while shooting 46% from the field and 35.8% from deep at Purdue last season.

If the Knicks missed out on Ivey, their reported options are pursuing other CAA clients — Dallas Mavericks’ breakout star Jalen Brunson in a complicated sign-and-trade or a swap for Indiana Pacers’ Malcolm Brogdon.

One of Brunson’s CAA representatives is Sam Rose, the son of Knicks president Leon Rose. Meanwhile, Brogdon’s agent is also Brown.

A dark horse is Minnesota’s disgruntled point guard D’Angelo Russell, who shares the same agent (Aaron Mintz) with Knicks star Julius Randle and a player whom Knicks consultant Gersson Rosas aggressively pursued when he was still the Timberwolves president.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

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