Report: Knicks looking to move up in 2021-22 NBA Draft to land premium prospect

New York Knicks, Immanuel Quickley
Jan 22, 2021; Sacramento, California, USA; New York Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley (5) dribbles past Sacramento Kings guard Cory Joseph (9) in the first quarter at the Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

With the start of NBA free agency about two months away, the New York Knicks are already in the midst of the rumor mill. With expectations that Chris Paul will decline his player option and seek a long-term deal over the next three seasons, New York could consider him at 36 years old and likely heading toward a decline. However, Paul is still playing elite basketball and would solve their point guard problem instantly, but locking him in until he’s 39 years old could present problems down the road, especially the injuries begin to take hold.

Alternatively, President Leon Rose could look to the Portland Trailblazers to execute a trade for Damian Lillard, but there’s no guarantee he will be leaving his home city and making a move to one of the more popular destinations in sports.

Lillard seems to enjoy being the underdog and out of the spotlight, and he would undoubtedly be in the middle of the bright lights of New York if he made a significant change. The Knicks have the draft capital and money to spend this off-season if they want to execute a trade or sign a player in free agency, but there’s always a possibility they stick to their guns in the draft and look to acquire a premium prospect.

According to Marc Berman of the NY Post:

The Knicks are excused from the lottery dais for a change, but that doesn’t mean they can’t move up into lottery position on draft night in late July. They have two first-round picks (19 and 21) and two second-rounders (32, 58). Chief strategist Brock Aller will look to deal picks and money to move into the lottery, according to sources. Thibodeau doesn’t want too many more prospects on his roster.

The Knicks could target big prospects instead of trading their picks away:

With top-tier prospects like Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley, Jalen Suggs, Jalen Green, and more expected to rank highly in next year’s draft, the Knicks could consider pairing their first-round picks together and moving up. They currently acquire the 19th and 21st overall picks, giving them a bit of leverage and value to work with.

Alternatively, they could look to utilize those selections in a potential trade for Lillard, but they would consume a massive contract in the process. Ultimately, the Knicks have a variety of different ways they can go this upcoming off-season, and one way or another, they need to provide Julius Randle with another star to take some pressure off, especially when the post-season rolls around.