Knicks move up in the draft, send 2 picks to Jazz for No.23

New York Knicks, Leon Rose

The New York Knicks made their first trade under Leon Rose, packaging the 27th and 38th picks to move up to 23rd in today’s NBA Draft.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported the transaction.

The Knicks have also acquired the rights on Croatian 7-foot-2 center Ante Tomic, Jazz’s 44th overall pick in 2008. Tomic is is not expected to play in the NBA.

Interestingly, both the 27th and 38th picks were acquired by the Knicks via previous trades.

The 27th pick was originally from the Los Angeles Clippers via the Marcus Morris trade deadline deal.

The 38th pick, meanwhile, came from the Charlotte Hornets in a 2018 trade involving Willy Hernangomez.

The Knicks must have liked a prospect that they wouldn’t want to slide beyond the 23rd pick.

The 23rd pick also gives the Knicks a much more significant asset than the 28th pick for a bigger move down the road.

If they stand pat, the prospects who could be available at No. 23 that were previously linked to the Knicks are Stanford’s Tyrell Terry, Washington’s Isaiah Stewart, TCU’s Desmond Bane, Arizona’s Josh Green, North Carolina’s Cole Anthony, San Diego State’s Malachi Flynn, and Maryland’s Jalen Smith.

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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.

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.

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.