Fans of the New York Knicks were eager leading into Thursday’s Draft. They had skyscraping aspirations that the franchise would make a move to the four slot to draft guard Jaden Ivey out of Purdue. After the Sacramento Kings decided to move on and select Keegan Murray out of Iowa, those towering daydreams quickly became grim.
Fans still held out hope that they would trade with the Detroit Pistons to slide into the five hole. Detroit surely hung up the phone with a hearty guffaw as they went ahead and drafted Ivey, piercing the hearts of Knicks fans everywhere.
Yet, hope somehow was present. On life support, but present. As the night got closer to the Knicks’ pick, many reports swirled about New York engaging in trade talks, including the squad from the Motor City.
Then came the 11th pick and it was New York’s turn. Fans were eager to find out if guard Johnny Davis from Wisconsin would be the franchise’s next player or maybe local product AJ Griffin from White Plains, NY and Duke.
Before Commissioner Adam Silver took the podium, news dropped that the 11th pick would be headed to Oklahoma City. The return was three protected draft picks. The Knicks then selected Ousmane Dieng from France on behalf of the Thunder.
Obviously, fans had little to no idea of the impending transaction, so poor Dieng grabbed the Knickerbocker hat and shook Silver’s hand while getting serenaded with boos. He was quickly scurried away to save him from the undeserved boos.
Then came the 13th pick, which belonged to the Charlotte Hornets. The pick was traded to the Knicks and it was Jalen Duren out of Memphis getting drafted at that spot. Some on Knicks Twitter reacted negatively as it seemed the Knicks were drafting the replacement for fan favorite Mitchell Robinson, who is slated to become an unrestricted free agent. But as the Negative Nancy’s were drafting up the negative tweets, news dropped that Duren had been traded.
As it turns out, the Knicks and Pistons were deeply engaged in trade talks. But it wasn’t what Knicks fans expected. The Knicks sent Duren and guard Kemba Walker to the Motor City.
The Knicks ended up making one pick in the 2022 NBA Draft: Trevor Keels out of Duke with the 42nd pick.
What Knicks president Leon Rose did on draft night is very simple. He realized he made a gargantuan mistake in giving Walker a contract and he had to make up for it by sacrificing picks in this year’s draft.
The $9M the Knicks would have owed Walker then comes off the Knicks’ book, giving them a little more money to play with heading into free agency.
Over the last few days, reports continued to gain traction that guard Jalen Brunson is high on the Knicks’ wishlist. This coming off the heels of the signing of former Knick and Brunson’s father, Rick Brunson, joining the coaching staff.
Then, on Tuesday night, the news that all but confirmed the Knicks’ desire to heavily pursue the younger Brunson. The Knicks and the Pistons made yet another transaction. This time, the Knicks sent swingman Alec Burks and center Nerlens Noel to Detroit. This move cleared up another $19M and it also got Noel’s awful contract off the Knicks’ book.
The Knicks are going all-in for Jalen Brunson, a player who has had one fine season in his four years as a professional. After averaging just eight points a game in his first playoffs, he averaged 21.6 this past playoffs for the Mavericks. Brunson is definitely a fine basketball player, but paying him in the range of $25M to $30M per year is just asinine. Brunson has yet to do anything on the basketball court in the NBA that justifies that type of money. The Knicks are banking on potential, and it’s never a good idea to hand out that type of coin for a guy who could potentially make the team better. A contract that sees Brunson make about $18M per year seems more reasonable. But the Knicks are focused on outbidding the Mavericks.
Leon Rose better hope this works out for him, given his most recent free agency.
But the Knicks might not be finished there. There are reports that the Knicks are still looking to make a trade. Spurs’ guard Dejounte Murray has been floated around as has Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, from Elmsford, NY. The Knicks’ biggest trade chips here include the 22 draft picks they have over the next seven years, as Leon Rose said, including 11 in the first round.
A little humorous statement by Leon Rose assuming he’ll be here over the next seven years, given his track record on free agent signings. Rose needs a better outcome in free agency this go around because it can’t get much worse than what happened last summer. If there is a repeat of last summer and Brunson is in fact an overpay, Knicks owner James Dolan is going to have to have a very short leash on the former player agent.