The New York Knicks find themselves in the position to gamble on a player with the ninth pick or go after a proven All-Star. What should they do?
It seems to be a conversation that every team has concerning their coveted lottery pick: To trade or not to trade? For teams picking in the top five, it would make more sense to hold on to their pick in hopes of drafting a potential All-Star level player unless a team offers an unbelievable package of a superstar and future draft picks.
For teams like the New York Knicks, who are picking outside of the top five, it’s more of a gamble. Some players chosen outside of the top 5 have become All-Stars and future Hall of Famers (i.e. Stephen Curry and Kobe Bryant).
The reality is that the vast majority players chosen outside the Top five, however, have had underwhelming careers as role players or have been marred by injury.
The Knicks are in an interesting situation heading into the 2018 NBA Draft. New York currently h a pasromising young core of Kristaps Porzingis, Frank Ntilikina and Tim Hardaway Jr., who have been paired with a plethora of 25-and-under players.
With the ninth pick in this deep and talented draft, there are many options for the Knicks.
There are players like Mikal Bridges and Miles Bridges, along with Wendell Carter Jr. and Collin Sexton, who have been tied to the Knicks in mock drafts for the last few months. Also tied to the Knicks in some mock drafts are Oklahoma’s Trae Young and Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr..
Young and Porter, however, would only be available if other front offices have serious concerns about their abilities or health.
All of the above-mentioned players have ceilings of current NBA superstars: Mikal Bridges (Paul George/Kawhi Leonard), Wendell Carter Jr. (Al Horford), and Trae Young (Stephen Curry). In the case of Young and Porter, these prospects were once touted as potential top three picks.
With all this potential talent on the board to be taken with the ninth pick, why should the Knicks entertain the idea of trading their pick?
There are three answers: Kemba Walker, Kawhi Leonard, and Kyrie Irving. These three players have been tied to the Knicks in trade rumors dating back to when the franchise still had Carmelo Anthony on the roster.
Walker has surfaced in a number of trade rumors, and Leonard had a mysterious and drama-filled 2017-18 season with the San Antonio Spurs that may indicate that they’re willing to part ways.
In addition, Marc Berman of The New York Post reported that the Celtics are scared of losing Irving to the Knicks in 2019.
Any trades that the Knicks would consider should net an All-Star caliber player who would fit the timeline of the younger players. These trades shouldn’t include players like Porzingis and Ntilikina, as they represent New York’s foundation.
Outside of these players, any other assets should be expendable in order to get a superstar like Irving, Leonard, or Walker.
One potential offer was reported by Bleacher Report:
New York Knicks Get: Kemba Walker
Similar offers can be made to the Celtics and Spurs for Irving and Leonard, respectively. Instead of offering Burke and Thomas, players like Emmanuel Mudiay, Damyean Dotson, and Ron Baker can also be included.
In saying that, a trade could be a wasted motion.
These three superstars will become unrestricted free agents in 2019, when the Knicks are expected to have enough cap room to hand out a max contract. Given this, why should the Knicks pursue a trade for someone they can wait to get?
Trading for a superstar level player who has expressed interest in playing for your club can allow you to offer them a more lucrative contract than any other team.
This will present the best scenario for both the Knicks, who will lock up a prime superstar, and the player who would be able to get more financial security when compared to what they would receive if they came to the Knicks in free agency.
In the event that the Knicks trade one or both picks in the 2018 NBA Draft, they can always trade for a mid-to-late first or second-round pick. A prime candidate to be traded for a potential additional pick would be Courtney Lee.
Lee has performed exceptionally well during his time with the Knicks, and has been a leader for the team.
Unfortunately, he no longer fits the plans and timeline for the Knicks. However, Lee can provide quality minutes for a playoff team in need of help in perimeter shooting and defending.
New York would ideally flip Lee for a young role player or a pick that would mitigate the loss of the previously alluded to trade.
In the end, the Knicks will have very important decision to make when they’re on the clock come draft day. In the event that they can formulate a lucrative trade with the Hornets, Spurs, or Celtics, Scott Perry should consider taking the deal.
This also depends on if players like Porter Jr. or Young are on the board when the time comes for the Knicks to pick.
In the end, every New York Knicks fan wants to see competitive players on the roster next season as the race to get back into the playoffs continues.