LaVar Ball preferred destination for LaMelo: Knicks or Pistons

New York Knicks, LaMelo Ball

LaVar Ball doubled down on his wish for his son LaMelo to end up with the New York Knicks.

Appearing on The Pascal Show on youtube last week, LaVar mentioned his preferred destination for LaMelo, a projected top-three pick in this year’s NBA Draft.

“I want him either in New York or Detroit,” LaVar said.

“It doesn’t matter where you go,” LaVar added. “The key is to have the right coach behind you.”

LaVar’s latest statement could be viewed as an endorsement of Tom Thibodeau and Dwane Casey as the ‘right coach’ for his youngest son.

 

The Knicks have recently hired Thibodeau as their new head coach for their latest rebuild, while the Pistons currently have Dwane Casey.

Both coaches have a history of coaching All-Star point guards in the league.

Thibodeau has coached Derrick Rose, who became the youngest MVP in the NBA while still in Chicago. On the other hand, Casey had molded Kyle Lowry into an All-Star when he was with the Toronto Raptors.

Both the Knicks and the Pistons are searching for a lead guard, and LaMelo is widely believed to be the best point guard in this draft.

LaMelo has earlier confirmed that he has interviewed with the Knicks before the Draft Lottery.

It’s also worth noting that LaMelo’s manager, Jermaine Jackson, is from Detroit. Jackson played and coached at Detroit Mercy and also had stints with the Pistons (1999-2000) and the Knicks (2005) as an undrafted NBA journeyman. Lamelo has been training in Detroit since March.

Recently, LaMelo has also met with the Minnesota Timberwolves as per Jonathan Givony of ESPN. The Timberwolves hold the No.1 pick in the Draft.

LaMelo is also expected to interview with the rest of the top four teams in the draft — Golden State Warriors (No.2), Charlotte Hornets (No.3), and Chicago Bulls (No.4).

The Knicks currently have the eighth pick while the Pistons are above them at seventh. Both teams have to trade up to have a shot at LaMelo. But there’s also a remote possibility that LaMelo will fall after rumors of his underwhelming team interviews began to float recently.

Charlotte Observer’s Rick Bonnell shared the intel on Sports Radio WFNZ earlier this week.

“Here is what I’m hearing from the league at large: LaMelo Ball is not performing very well at job interviews,” Bonnel said.

“I’ve heard that from multiple sources. He is not improving his perception via job interview. There are people drafting later in the top ten who were not preparing for the possibility of Ball still being around. And I’m not saying that he will not be a top-three pick. I am saying that I know for a fact that there are teams later in the top ten who are doing more research on him because they no longer think it’s a given he will.”

LaMelo’s combination of size, ballhandling, and court vision has made him a projected lottery pick. But on the flip side, questions about his professionalism and shot selection have held him back from becoming the top consensus pick. And his reportedly underwhelming team interviews are not helping him.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Knicks Draft Watch: What is the value of the top two picks?

New York Knicks, LaMelo Ball

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

LaMelo Ball has added more fuel to the fire when he said on ESPN’s Jalen & Jacoby Show Wednesday that he has spoken to only two teams thus far: the New York Knicks and Golden State Warriors.

The 6-foot-7 point guard has been on top of the Knicks’ Draft Board since May according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Meanwhile, Ian Begley of SNY recently reported that some NBA teams believe that the Knicks have been trying to move up in the Draft.

If the Knicks have their eyes on Ball, what could move the needle for them to get to the top of the Draft?

 

According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, executives around the NBA believe the Minnesota Timberwolves will shop the top overall pick for a win-now player. The Warriors are also in the same boat, hoping that they could snag a key piece to augment the loss of Kevin Durant and Andre Igoudala.

But ESPN’s Front Office Insider Bobby Marks believes the value of the Wolves and Warriors’ top two selections have decreased relatively owing to the unpredictability of this Draft class.

“I don’t believe you can get an All-Star back. It’s a lot different compared to last year,” Marks told Empire Sports Media.

Last year, Zion Williamson was the consensus top pick. This year, it’s unclear.

Ball, swingman Anthony Edwards, and big man James Wiseman have routinely figured out on top of several Mock Drafts and Draft Boards.

Trading draft picks have been tricky. Because there’s an unknown variable involved.

Revisiting past trades involving top picks might give us a better appraisal of the Timberwolves and Warriors’ picks.

The last time the No. 1 pick was traded happened in 2017 with the Philadelphia 76ers moving up from No. 3 to select Markelle Fultz. In return, the Celtics received the No. 3 pick (Jayson Tatum) and a future first-round pick which turned out to be Romeo Langford, last year’s No. 14 selection.

The following year, another Draft Day trade involving a top-three pick had a major impact. The Atlanta Hawks traded down from No. 3 to No. 5 to get an additional draft pick and selected sharp-shooter Trae Young.

The Mavericks, on the other hand, went on to pick Luka Doncic, who finished in the top five of the MVP balloting this season. The additional draft pick which the Hawks got in the trade turned out to be Cam Reddish, last year’s No. 10 selection.

Those cases, however, don’t apply to the Knicks, who are at the bottom half of the lottery. For the Knicks to move up into the top two, they will have to give more compensations than what the 76ers and the Mavericks have sent out.

The Knicks have the Draft capital, having six first-round picks starting next year until 2023 to choose from to add to their current No. 8 pick in a trade package. But they don’t have the win-now player which both the Timberwolves and the Warriors seek in a trade.

The last time an All-Star was involved in a trade for a No. 1 pick occurred in 2014 when the Cleveland Cavaliers sent No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins for Kevin Love in a larger three-team trade with the Philadelphia 76ers. 

In addition to Wiggins, Minnesota also received Anthony Bennett, Thaddeus Young, and a trade exception while the 76ers got Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Alexey Shved, and a future first-rounder which turned out to be Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (24th pick in 2016 NBA Draft).

As complicated as it is to pull off a multiple-team trade, it’s the more plausible way for the Knicks to convince ironically the Timberwolves or the Warriors to part way with their picks.

LaMelo Ball joins Knicks’ RJ Barrett, Kevin Knox at Puma

New York Knicks, Lamelo Ball

LaMelo Ball has spurned his father LaVar’s Big Baller Brand and instead signed with Puma. He became the first of the Ball brothers to sign an exclusive shoe deal outside of the family patriarch’s infamous shoe and apparel brand.

A projected top-three pick in the coming NBA Draft, Ball has joined a long list of young and dynamic roster of Puma ambassadors which include New York Knicks’ duo of RJ Barrett and Kevin Knox, Phoenix Suns’ DeAndre Ayton, Los Angeles Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma, and Denver Nuggets’ Michael Porter, Jr.

“Puma’s been making waves since their comeback to basketball, not just on the court but for the culture,” Ball told Complex Sports. “They’re doing big things and are the new wave of hoops.”

Ball sported J. Cole’s signature shoe R-Dreamer in his Puma photoshoot. Ball is expected to have his own signature shoe as Puma is deadset on reviving their basketball brand since multi-awarded rapper and music producer Jay-Z’s appointment as creative consultant.

Image courtesy of Puma

Ball earlier noted that he has spoken to the Knicks, the only team that is confirmed to have interviewed him so far.

The NBA will allow teams to conduct in-person meetings which includes medical evaluation and workout with 2020 Draft prospects from Oct. 16 to Nov. 16. The month-long Draft Combine process will allow teams to receive up to two visits per player and no more than 10 total among prospects according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Ball, however, has withdrawn himself from the Draft Combine, curiously, a day after he spilled his interview with the Knicks during his media availability.

The Knicks currently have the No. 8 pick in the lottery but the top two teams — Minnesota Timberwolves (No. 1) and Golden State Warriors (No. 2) — have not discounted the possibility of trading their picks.

The Warriors are reportedly enamored with Florida State’s Devin Vassell, one of the Knicks’ options at No. 8.

It’s going to be a huge win for Puma in the event that Ball, somehow, lands in a big market such as New York.

Knicks Draft Watch: Warriors eye Devin Vassell in potential trade down

New York Knicks, Devin Vassell

It’s no secret that the Golden State Warriors are studying all options, including trading, with regards to their No. 2 pick. The question is will the New York Knicks field an offer to trade up?

San Francisco Chronicle recently reported that Florida State University’s Devin Vassell is on the Warriors’ radar should they trade down.

According to multiple league sources, the Warriors believe Vassell is the top wing defender in this draft and would strongly consider him if they trade back to the 5-10 range. There is an outside chance that Golden State could even take him at No. 2 if it doesn’t receive an enticing offer to move down.

Considered as one of the top two wings in this Draft Class along with Auburn’s Isaac Okoro, Vassell is all over the Draft Boards. He is projected to be selected anywhere from No. 6-12 range.

Vassell could add bench depth for the Warriors who are expected to have the Splash Brothers— Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson— back at full health next season. Vassell has drawn Thompson’s comparisons.

“People like to identify a player in college with a player in the pros. And I always said I thought he was more like Klay Thompson,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said in an interview with SB Nation’s Golden State of Mind.

Hamilton cited Thompson’s 41.2 percent three-point clip as a freshman in Washington State while his prized wingman, Vassell, shot 42 percent from deep in his two seasons with the Seminoles.

“And he has a lot of those qualities where he knows the ball is supposed to go going to the basket. He’s extremely confident, he always anxious to take big shots. One of the aspects of his game, I probably didn’t utilize as much as his ability to create his own shot. When we needed him to create his own shot, he was able to go and make fall away fades and step-back jumpers and things that are going to allow him to be even more effective at the next level. He is a shotmaker, there’s no doubt about that,” Hamilton added.

The Knicks currently have the No. 8 pick and are also strongly considering Vassell and Okoro along with Iowa’s combo guard Tyrese Haliburton should they still be available. But it’s also no secret that the Knicks, who are looking for a lead guard, has LaMelo Ball on top of their Draft Board.

Ball has revealed during his Draft Combine media availability that he had conversations with the Knicks before the Lottery.  It was the only team he confirmed he had interviewed. When he was asked if he feels the Knicks would trade up for him, he had an inconclusive answer.

“That I don’t know. Maybe, maybe not,” Ball said.

The following day, Ball curiously withdrew from the Draft Combine nixing other NBA teams’ chance to interview him. He still could or may have selected which teams to talk to outside the Knicks.

The Knicks have the Draft capital and young assets at their disposal to maneuver a trade. But they lack the veteran piece that the Warriors would likely covet.

However, there’s a unanimous belief according to ESPN insider Tim Bontemps last month that the Warriors will try to accumulate trade pieces to position themselves for a potential run at Washington’s Bradley Beal in case he becomes available during next season’s trade deadline.

If that’s the Warriors’ long play, then the Knicks could be in the mix to snag their No. 2 pick in this Draft.

NBA Draft: New York Knicks cast a wide net in point guard search

New York Knicks

It’s going to be an unpredictable NBA Draft Night for the New York Knicks.

New Knicks president Leon Rose and his front office have continued to keep their cards close to their chest.  But the Draft Combine media interviews have provided some clarity that the Knicks are zeroing in on a potential lead guard.

The Knicks, who will be picking at No.8, No.27, and No.38 barring any trades, have interviewed at least seven guards and could be even more.

The consensus top three point guards in the Draft — LaMelo Ball, Killian Hayes, and Tyrese Haliburton — have all confirmed that they have talked to the Knicks prior to the lottery.

Haliburton claimed his vision is what separates him from the top-tier guards in the Draft. The 6-foot-5 skinny guard from Iowa also added that he’s comfortable playing on and off the ball at the backcourt.

“LaMelo is scoring the ball at three levels. I think I’m the best facilitator out of the group and I think Killian defends at a high level,” Haliburton said of their different strengths during his Draft Combine Zoom call.

Ball is unsure if the Knicks would trade up for him.

“That I don’t know.  Maybe, maybe not,” Ball said.

Hayes, meanwhile, is excited at the possibility of playing with fellow Frenchman Frank Ntilikina in New York’s backcourt.

“It would be dope,” Hayes said Monday on a Zoom call. “He’s [Frank] not really a true point guard. He can play the 1 or the 2, so I think it would be a good duo.”

Another French guard Theo Maledon and Stanford’s Tyrell Terry have also interviewed with the Knicks. Curiously, Maledon had his interview only two weeks ago. He’s the only prospect so far that has been confirmed to have discussions with the Knicks in the post-lottery.

RJ Hampton, whose Draft stock considerably dropped after a lackluster stint in New Zealand’s pro league, has also met with the Knicks over Zoom call.

Add Alabama’s Kira Lewis, Jr. to the long list.  Ian Begley of SNY recently reported that the Knicks have been in touch with the quick point guard.

North Carolina’s enigmatic combo guard Cole Anthony, who opted not to join the Draft Combine, has also his share of fans and critics in the organization.  Meanwhile, Duke point guard Tre Jones, who is pegged by Tankathon as the Knicks’ pick at No. 27, revealed during his Draft Combine Zoom call that he has not interviewed with them.

During Rose’s first public appearance as the Knicks team president in June, he mentioned how he views this Draft as a lot more unpredictable compared to the recent years.

“This draft, a couple of guys stand out, and after that, there’s a lot of equality,” Rose said.

Outside the above-mentioned point guards, the Knicks have also interviewed Memphis’ big man Precious Achiuwa, who split his time in Bronx, New York, and New Jersey during his high school. The other lottery prospects that have also been linked to them are Dayton’s explosive big man Obi Toppin, and a trio of defensive stalwarts in Auburn’s Isaac Okoro, and Florida State’s Devin Vassell, and Patrick Williams.

The Knicks are navigating this Draft process under the same degree of prudence and diligence that they have shown during their head coaching search that ultimately led to Tom Thibodeau, the perceived frontrunner from the start.

Ball is the perceived No.1 point guard in the Knicks board as early as May, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post.  And with Ball reportedly withdrawing from the Draft Combine after spilling his talks with the Knicks to the media, expect more smoke to come out of New York.

Whatever the Knicks would choose to do in the Draft — move up, trade down or stand pat — there’s a clear indication that they are doing everything to cover all their bases.

 

It’s a clever move that has Walter Perrin‘s imprint all over it. The former Utah Jazz executive is bringing in the small market-mentality to New York, finding every slice of information he could grab to get an edge over the bigger market teams.

The Knicks won’t draft everyone whom they have scouted and interviewed. But Perrin likes to keep notes which can be valuable down the road either in free agency or trade. Just like when the Jazz targeted Jordan Clarkson in the February trade deadline. Their Draft notes on him helped them pull the trigger on the trade.

“Towards the tail end of the (NCAA) season and the conference tournament he was struggling a little bit only because he had some off-the-court issues, personal issues, nothing bad. If I remember correctly, one of his family members was going through struggles in terms of illness,” Perrin said last April.

In 2014, five months before the Draft, Clarkson’s father was diagnosed with cancer. It took a hit on his performance and consequently hurt his Draft stock.

“It was affecting his play, and that’s one of the reasons we wanted to bring him in, we wanted to get to know him a little better and find out what was really going on,” Perrin added.

The Jazz wasn’t able to grab him in the Draft, but when they were looking for a key rotational piece this season, their Draft notes came in handy. Perrin’s scouting instincts was right all along as Clarkson proved to be a second-round steal in that Draft class.

That kind of progressive of thinking is a whiff of fresh air in New York which had more misses than hits when it comes to player personnel.

Under normal circumstances, Perrin could have had more workouts arranged for the Knicks by now. But still, he and his scouting department are doing their due dilligence.

It’s going to be a wild NBA Draft. But if the number of pre-Draft interviews are any indication, the Knicks will come prepared.

LaMelo Ball interviews with the Knicks but unsure if they’ll trade for him

New York Knicks, LaMelo Ball

The New York Knicks are still up in the air on LeMelo Ball: 

LaMelo Ball dreams of playing next season as the top overall pick.

“Ever since I was a little, when I’d do little projects and stuff, that was one of my goals — to go to the NBA and be the No.1 pick,” Ball said during his Draft Combine zoom call with the media.

Whether that dream will come true with the Minnesota Timberwolves or any team like the New York Knicks, will be known on Nov. 18.

Ball, the consensus top point guard in the Draft, declined to answer which NBA team has talked to him except when he was asked about the Knicks.

“Yeah, I feel like they’re just trying to get know me because there’s a whole lot of stuff out here that you won’t even know if it’s me or not,” Ball said.

When he was asked again if the Knicks did interview him, he had a curt reply: “Yeah.”

The Knicks conducted the interview before the NBA Lottery as noted by Newsday’s Steve Popper.

But when Ball was pressed more about the Knicks’ interest on him and if they’re willing to trade for him, he was careful not to divulge any more details.  

“That I don’t know.  Maybe, maybe not,” he said.

The Knicks currently own the eight pick and have interviewed other guards in the Draft including Killian Hayes, and RJ Hampton, two prospects who also played overseas like Ball.  They have also made their due diligence on Florida State U’s duo of Devin Vassell and Patrick Williams as well as Auburn’s Isaac Okoro. The Knicks are also divided on UNC’s Cole Anthony.

There’s no real indication whether the Knicks would trade up for Ball.  But if it’s up to LaMelo’s father, LaVar Ball, he wants his son to end up as a Knick and dreams of having all of his three sons play together in the mecca of basketball.

“Oh yes, to the end,” LaVar said in Say Less with Kaz podcast last June.

“They (Knicks) don’t have anything.  The last time they won a championship back in the 70s. The bright lights. You need a whole new turnaround over there. The person I want to see him play with, they got to know this, if you’re getting ‘Melo, you’re getting ‘Gelo […] And after that, you have a chance to get ‘Zo. You don’t need one person to change no franchise. You need the whole culture change and that takes all three of my boys […] That would be the biggest show in the NBA ever.”

LaMelo though doesn’t really care where he’ll end up. He could play next to D’Angelo Russell in Minnesota or become the third wheel of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson in Golden State.

In the same podcast, LaVar said LaMelo and the Warriors are a bad fit.  But the projected top-three pick disagrees.

“My old man, he’s his own man.  He has his opinions and I have mine,” said the youngest of Ball brothers. “Like I said, I feel like I can play on any team.  Anywhere is a great fit. I feel positive anywhere I go. I feel I can make a good impact wherever I go.”

CBS Sports mock draft has New York Knicks trading up to No. 2 overall pick

New York Knicks, LaMelo Ball

The New York Knicks and their bad luck secured the number eight overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft, but their goal might still be to still land LaMelo Ball.

While some might say the upcoming draft is underwhelming with talent, Ball represents one of the better players. He would fill an immediate void for the Knicks at point guard, and per a report from SNY, the Knicks want him. Reports have also indicated that Ball prefers to land in New York, where he can execute his skill-set and become a glorified star.

The primary issue at this point is where the Knicks are drafting at number eight. If they can manage to climb the ladder to the second overall pick, they would be in a good position to land Ball, who’s currently playing overseas. However, it will cost them quite a lot, as they would have to strike a deal with the Golden State Warriors.

Here’s what CBS proposals for the New York Knicks and Warriors:

With the Warriors trading back in a theoretical scenario, they target Deni Avdija, who plays for Maccabi Tel Aviv. He is reportedly tailor-made for the Warriors’ system, making him a great option in a trade-back scenario with the Knicks, who can’t resist the Lamelo Ball temptation.

Via CBS Sports:

Avdija is tailor-made for the Warriors system as a big wing with excellent playmaking ability and the makings of a strong 3-point stroke. Golden State is obviously hoping to get contributions right away, and while Avdija will have a strong learning curve on the offensive end, his basketball IQ should earn him playing time from the jump…

To land the number two overall pick, it is possible the Warriors demand center Mitchell Robinson, who represents one of the Knicks’ best young players. Of course, trading him away would be an awful loss, but might be worth it if they are able to secure Lamelo in the process.

Their young foundation would still be strong, but they would also need to bring in some talented veterans to help make the team competitive. They do have Julius Randle still on the roster, but reports have also indicated they might be looking to trade him.

New York Knicks have the right tools to navigate delicate Draft

New York Knicks, Anthony Edwards

There’s a great debate on what’s the best course of action after the New York Knicks fell to the eight spot in the NBA Draft.

During Rose’s first interview back in June, he already hinted at how the Knicks view this year’s Draft class.

“It’s interesting, this draft, there’s a couple of guys that might stand out, and after that, I think there’s a lot of equality,’’ Rose said. 

Perhaps Rose was referring to the enigmatic LaMelo Ball, their top point guard in their board, and Georgia’s Anthony Edwards

After those two young studs with the most obvious star potential, it’s going to be a guessing game.

“I think there’s a lot of guys that are close with different skill sets, different positives, different negatives. It’s funny, each scout, there are varying opinions. A lot more varying opinions than in past years,” he added.

With a roster lacking in star power, the Knicks are still years away from building a contender.  But with a Draft capital and a large salary cap space, they are also in a good position to accelerate their timeline via trades and the free agency.

The Knicks have a decision to make that could have a domino effect in their rebuilding plan. The upcoming Draft should be the first domino to fall.

The Minnesota Timberwolves and the Golden State Warriors have hinted that they’re open to trading the top two picks.  The Knicks are expected to survey the asking price of those picks.

“It all depends on what they’d have to give up. I do like the idea of Anthony Edwards or LaMelo Ball in a New York Knicks uniform, but at what price? I’m not sure I’d be willing to take out a second mortgage on the house to move up,” NBA Draft analyst Matt Babcock of Babcock Hoops told Empire Sports Media.

In a Draft that is so wide open, the Knicks are looking at all options, including sticking with their pick or trading down to accumulate more assets according to a source familiar of the Knicks’ front office thinking.

Even without a top-three pick, the Knicks could still wind up with the best player of the Draft, according to ESPN college basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla. 

But even taking the next best available player at No.8 is tricky.

“I think general managers using the line “we will take the best player available” can be misleading. Each team’s big board is different and catered to their own team and needs. With that said, in most cases, a team “taking the best player available” would likely be a healthy balance of talent and team need, naturally, which is the way it should be,” Babcock explained.

Babcock, the former NBA agent turned Draft analyst, said the Knicks have plenty of options at No. 8.  It will just boil down to their priorities.

“Out of the group of players that I’m expecting to be on the board at that pick, I think the Knicks should take a look at a handful of different guys that could be good fits: Isaac Okoro from Auburn, Devin Vassell and Patrick Williams from Florida State, or point guards Tyrese Halliburton and Kira Lewis from Iowa State and Alabama, respectively,” Babcock said.

For a Knicks team that has so many holes to plug, it’s going to be trickier.  But in the Draft that could be without in-personal draft workouts and interviews, Rose and his team are built for this.

Draft intel should be king. And Rose has managed to surround himself with a solid team that has built relationships across and outside the league.  He has World Wide Wes and Draft guru Walter Perrin to lean on.  Kenny Payne’s connections in college basketball and AAU circuits could also come in handy.

“My general feeling is that if a scout does a good job throughout the year, they should have a good grip on a player’s on-court talent. The typical pre-draft process should be more of an opportunity for scouts to get a feel for a player off the court by interviewing them and doing extensive background research. Of course, teams haven’t been able to meet with players in person recently, but I don’t think teams are being held back from gathering the necessary information too much,” Babcock said.

Back in April, when Perrin was still with the Utah Jazz, he raised his concerns on the lack of in-person interviews in this KSL Sports report.

“With a phone interview, you’re not able to see body language,” Perrin warned. “In a live interview, you can see how guys react to certain questions that may not be facial. I feel you may get a better sense of how well they answer a question, how much trouble, or the struggles they may have coming up with an answer. I personally think it’s better to see them live.”

On-court performances are just the tip of the iceberg.  There are so many factors why amateur standouts don’t pan out in the NBA and why late-round picks or undrafted players become stars. Half of the equation is talent.  The other half is the mental makeup and character of a player.

“Personality for us is very big,” Perrin said. “Background intel is big with us. Certain franchises and I would not say us per se, but speaking in generalities, talent outweighs character, other teams would be character over talent, and other teams would be character plus talent. I would hope when we look at it character is big naturally, but talent is also big.”

For a team that has long been wallowing in dysfunction, it is a whiff of fresh air to have someone like Perrin in the front office. The Knicks must get this Draft right to have a foundational start in their rebuilding.  It appears that the new regime has the right tools, this time, to navigate this delicate Draft.

Wide-open NBA Draft favors Knicks, says college basketball analyst

New York Knicks, Killian Hayes

Even without a top-three pick, there’s a chance the New York Knicks could still end up with the best player in this year’s NBA Draft.

That’s the belief of former St. John’s head coach turned ESPN college analyst Fran Fraschilla when he appeared on Michael Kay Show over the weekend.

“First of all, there’s no clear-cut no.1, there’s no consensus no.1, there’s no clear-cut NBA superstar in this Draft just yet but I will remind you guys that this is like 2013 when Anthony Bennett went no.1 and there was a kid by the name of (Giannis) Antetokounmpo that was taken No.15 by the Milwaukee Bucks.  Now, there’s nobody like that in this draft but quite honestly, I don’t care if you’re picking 1, 2, 3 all the way down to 15, you can get a guy, the Knicks can find somebody at eight [pick] that could end up being the best player in this Draft,” Fraschilla said.

The Knicks’ current roster has glaring holes everywhere, but with team president Leon Rose viewing last season lottery pick RJ Barrett and rim protector Mitchell Robinson as cornerstones of the franchise, the growing belief is that the most pressing concern is finding a lead point guard.

Whether they can find that player in the Draft, in the free agency or within the current roster, is a matter of internal debate according to a source familiar with the Knicks’ front office thinking.

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported earlier today that the Knicks, along with the Phoenix Suns and Detroit Pistons, are among the teams expected to bid for Toronto Raptors breakout star Fred Van Vleet, the top point guard in an underwhelming free-agent class.

The Knicks currently have a point guard rotation of Elfrid Payton, Frank Nkitilina, and Dennis Smith, Jr., all former lottery picks, who have not panned out.  But after acquiring Kenny Payne and Johnnie Bryant to join Tom Thibodeau’s staff, the sense is that they will attempt to develop their current players to get more value on the court and possibly in the trade market.

LaMelo Ball, who is the Knicks’ top point guard in their board as early as May, is not expected to drop outside the top three.  The team has also conducted an interview with Killian Hayes, the top playmaker among international prospects. The Knicks, in typical Rose’s fashion, is doing their due diligence and is said to be considering all options.

Several mock drafts have yielded different results for the Knicks at no.8, bolstering Fraschilla’s observation.

Under normal circumstances, the Knicks and the other 29 teams could have a better grasp of most of their targets in the NCAA tournament and validate that intel during their in-person workouts and interviews. But even if they missed out on that, Fraschilla believes that some teams have already pegged the best players in their boards.

“Hopefully, Rose and the Knicks are one of those teams but there are kids who are going to be available at eight —Tyrese Haliburton, Onyeka Okongwu, Saddiq Bey.  There are guys that are gonna be hanging around in this draft that could end up at eight being the best player in this Draft,” Fraschilla said.  “The Knicks just have to find that guy.”

It is interesting to note that Haliburton is being represented by CAA while Okongwu and Bey are with Excel Sports.

In recent memory, the Knicks have been unlucky at no.8.  Since 2005, they have taken three players with the eight pick— Channing Frye (2005), Jordan Hill (2009), and Nkitilina (2017)— without much success.

Can Rose turn the Knicks’ lottery pick into a ‘Lucky 8’ this time?

Fraschilla is optimistic: “There’s a new regime. I’m confident that these guys know what they’re doing.”

 

Can Leon Rose turn New York Knicks pick to ‘Lucky 8’?

New York Knicks, Leon Rose

There was no beginner’s luck for New York Knicks team president Leon Rose.

Not even a lucky bracelet with the inscription “We Are One” from their cancer-stricken super fan Antonio Sellers could help Rose break the team’s Draft Lottery curse Thursday night.

Armed with the sixth-best chance to win the Lottery, the Knicks struck out anew and even fell two spots down. They settled with the eight pick, extending their long streak of not moving up in the NBA Draft to 17.

Minnesota grabbed the chance to select at No. 1 with Golden State, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Atlanta, and Detroit to pick ahead of New York.

With a Draft Class relatively weaker than the previous years and with the absence of personal workouts due to the Covid-19 outbreak, it’s going to be a tricky selection process.

This early, the Timberwolves and the Warriors are hinting that they are not closing their doors on trading their picks.

“We have an open mind as we go through all of this,” Minnesota team president Gersson Rosas per Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. “We want to do what’s best for this organization. And it means being thorough, being diligent and looking at every option. Draft, trade, free agency, whatever the case may be.”

The Warriors, meanwhile, don’t have any idea yet what to do or what can they get in return for their second pick.

“We don’t really know anything at this point…I have no idea what the value is for that pick… We don’t entirely control the draft but all we have to like is two guys to be happy,” Warriors GM Bob Myers per 97.5 The Game.

This gives the Knicks a chance to move up for LaMelo Ball, the top point guard in their Draft Board. But everything will still depend if they can come up with the package that these teams in win-now mode would be looking for.

There’s also a scenario where they can attach the eight pick in a package for larger trade to get a disgruntled star or a solid veteran that can move the needle. 

Rose has been prudent and calculating with his recent front office moves and coaching hires. It is expected that he will do the same with his first Draft.

Even if they stand pat, they still can get a point guard at eight pick. With Ball and top international prospect Killian Hayes likely to be picked early, the Knicks can settle with the likes of Iowa State’s Tyrese Haliburton, Duke standout, and ex-Knick Greg Anthony’s son Cole Anthony or Kentucky’s Tyrese Maxey.

They can also opt for the next best available talent regardless of position.

Rose will have multiple options, and this is where his assistant GM and lead college scout Walter Perrin’s intel becomes valuable. Perhaps Perrin can find another hidden gem in the mold of a Gordon Hayward (2010 9th pick) or a Donovan Mitchell (2017 13th pick) from the Draft.

Rose may have run out of luck in the Lottery, but the lawyer-agent turned basketball executive knows how to grind and hustle to get what he wants.