Could the New York Knicks Move Up in the Draft?


The 2012 NBA Draft is less than three weeks away, and while many teams work out prospects for their first round pick or picks, the Knicks are trying to figure out how exactly to get a first round pick.

The Knicks don’t have a first round pick this year as a result of the Tracy McGrady-Jordan Hill-Jared Jeffries trade done in 2010, which they are still paying for. Donnie Walsh, then-GM of the Knicks, was unloading contracts to have as much cap space as possible heading into the famed summer of 2010.

Walsh was forced by the Houston Rockets to throw in the Knicks’ 2012 first round pick. The pick was top-five protected – meaning if it was a top five pick in the draft, the Knicks would keep it – but alas, the Knicks were not a lottery team, and the Rockets got it instead.

The Knicks do have a second rounder – the 48th pick – and they’ve had success drafting in the second round in recent years, selecting Landry Fields and Josh Harrellson. However, as evidenced by their selection of Andy Rautins two years ago, second rounders can be unpredictable. Rautins isn’t even in the NBA anymore.

So, the Knicks may look to move up in the draft – especially considering many people feel this is an especially deep and talented draft. Tommy Dee of the Knicks Blog claims that the Knicks are shopping Landry Fields, and the Golden State Warriors may be possible suitors, willing to give up their 30th pick. Fields would be a good fit in an uptempo offense with shooters (Dorrell Wright, Klay Thompson), a good passing PG (Steph Curry), and a big who can space the floor and pass (David Lee). This was evidenced by Fields’s excellent play in the first half of his rookie season, with Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, and Amar’e Stoudemire. The Warriors also have four draft picks, so they may be willing to give one up for a solid wing player.

However, for the Knicks to shop Fields seems a bit suspect. The Knicks only have a half-filled roster and may possibly lose J.R. Smith and Steve Novak this summer. Likewise, Iman Shumpert may be out until December as he recovers from a torn ACL. Fields is a restricted free agent and the Knicks can spend as much as they like to re-sign him. To trade away an asset that won’t sacrifice cap space, and is a proven player, who – despite struggles – can still be very effective in many assets of the game.

If the Knicks want to find another draft pick, they could also try to do a deal with a team like the Portland Trailblazers, who have four picks – two lottery and two second round picks. The Blazers are without a PG for next season, and they’re also weak upfront, so they might be interested in players like Toney Douglas or Jerome Jordan.

The Cleveland Cavaliers also have four picks: a lottery pick, the 24th, and two second rounders. Perhaps they would give up their 24th pick or one of the second round picks for one of the above-mentioned players.

The Knicks also own the draft rights of Georgios Printezis, a Greek player who is doing quite well in the Euroleague. Though he likely isn’t coming to the NBA this season, the Knicks could give up his draft rights in a package of Douglas or Jordan in order to move into the first round.

I wouldn’t expect the Knicks to give up their second round pick to move up because of the uncertainty surrounding their free agents.

However it shakes out, the next month will be an interesting one for the Knicks as they try to shape their future through the draft and free agency.