After a season full of losing, the NBA draft lottery is near. The Knicks, along with the Cavs and Suns sport a 14% chance at the top overall pick, AKA Zion Williamson.
Pat Ewing: A Good Omen
A 14% chance also means an 86% chance that the Knicks do not finish with the top pick. Due to finishing with the worst record in the league, the lowest the Knicks can pick is 5th. So what should fans expect? It’s tough to say because anything other than the 1st pick is going to feel like a massive failure for Knicks fans although that’s not necessarily the case. Players like Ja Morant and RJ Barrett provide the top-level talent. Especially for teams in the talent-acquiring stages, which is where the Knicks are at. The problem is the generational talent waiting at the 1st pick in Zion, which makes every pick afterward seem not as great.
What If Pick Isn’t 1st?
Would the Knicks keep their pick if it’s not number 1? This is an important question people are asking heading into this summer. With the Knicks in play for a number of top-level free agents, namely Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, that lottery pick becomes an important asset in acquiring veterans or second tier stars to play alongside the hopeful free agents. Do the Knicks pursue an Anthony Davis trade? With the Lakers currently a dumpster fire, it’s no sure thing that Davis ends up a Laker this summer. Same can be said for Boston with Kyrie likely leaving after a disappointing playoff run. With Kyrie likely leaving, Boston doesn’t have reason to trade for Davis and sacrificing any young talent they have.
This is what’s concerning about the Knicks summer. Being in the running for top free agents is great and says a great deal about where the franchise is at this point in time. But until said player signs on the dotted line, there is no guarantee. With roughly $75 million in cap space, the Knicks have options even if no top free agents come. The smart thing to do would be to roll over the cap space into the next season. Simply sign free agents to one-year deals for 2019.
After Durant/Irving: Who Else Is In Play?
We all know the rumors by this point about Kevin Durant’s desire to play for the Knicks next season. With a recent injury scare in the Warriors game 5 victory, it just goes to show how fragile these rumors can be. Hopefully, he recovers fast enough to continue his incredible playoff run.
A lot of people have considered Irving to be the second max free agent that the Knicks want next to Durant but are there other options? Let’s make one thing clear: whomever Durant wants to play with, the Knicks will make happen. There’s no indication that Durant is in the business of pushing personnel decisions upon a front office but his stature in the game gives him the ability to certainly ask for that. Kemba Walker, a New York native, is another free agent guard on the market. However, he’s a couple years older than Kyrie. Would that be a smart signing for the Knicks to max out a ball dominant guard on the wrong side of 30?
Other second-tier free agents include Tobias Harris and Jimmy Butler. Philly will do their best to keep both this summer after a strong playoff run. With the Bucks now making the Eastern Conference Finals, Khris Middleton will likely resign there as well. It doesn’t leave the Knicks many options and the front office will have to tread carefully, as to not hand out a deal they come to regret.
With the cap space available and 7 1st round draft picks over the next 5 years, the Knicks would be smart to maintain that flexibility and pursue starts that need to be saved, like Bradley Beal. As time passes, the Porzingis trade seems more and more shrewd, with Scott Perry deserving a lot of credit for that. Now, he needs to continue his excellent decision making this summer.
At this time next week, we will know the fate of the Knicks lottery spot. Although it is likely the Knicks do not end up with the number 1 pick, that doesn’t mean it’s a disaster.
The landscape of the NBA is going to change in a major way this summer. The Knicks will be major players in the shaping of the league heading into next season.
Photo Cred: New York Post