If the New York Knicks did not stand a chance to trade for Anthony Davis, they are not the losers of the fallout.
The New York Knicks have done their fair share of losing for the last two decades. They achieved a franchise-worst 17-65 record twice, had just one good year from Amar’e Stoudemire‘s max contract, cycled through head coaches and lived through questionable front-office regimes.
That kind of losing exists, but so does being on the wrong end of a trade, whether involved in it or not. A team like the Los Angeles Clippers were arguably losers of the 2018 Kawhi Leonard deal between the San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors since Leonard wanted his hometown team.
A similar trade happened Saturday, when the Pelicans sent Anthony Davis to the Lakers for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and a package of draft picks not seen since the Brooklyn Nets mortgaged their future for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
This was a haul, and while the Knicks did not attain their trade target, it is difficult to say they lost if they never had a chance at Davis and refused to meet New Orleans’ asking price.
SNY’s Ian Begley previously reported some members of the Knicks were “uncomfortable” with trading “significant assets” for Davis. It was compared to the Carmelo Anthony trade, which set the Knicks back in assets immediately and through 2014.
The Lakers mortgaged their present depth and future through 2025.
Yes, it was similar to the Knicks and Anthony, who wanted to join them at the time and maybe would have upon hitting free agency. Davis can hit the open market in 2020, but re-sign with Los Angeles almost immediately and settle the inevitable; they had to do this now before LeBron James‘ window shortened again.
Current roster depth for the Knicks is young and inexperienced, but slowly building in terms of depth. Mitchell Robinson is promising. Kevin Knox flashed at times. Dennis Smith Jr. is hardly a lost cause. Write in RJ Barrett to play alongside them. Plus, seven first-round picks over the next five years is nothing to scoff at. So sending all that away for just one player, no matter how talented he is, represents risk.
The Knicks always seemed out on acquiring Davis, though, as Marc Berman of the New York Post highlighted New Orleans’ thoughts on their assets not having top-15 player potential. That puts more emphasis on draft picks to move, which New York, hypothetically, would have to clean out just for one year of the Kentucky product.
With the Lakers potentially not owning their own pick in five of the next seven drafts, who knows how much more the Knicks may have needed to climb. Perhaps more unprotected picks. That will never be known, and it is for the best.
If the Pelicans never valued the New York Knicks’ assets, and if they never wanted to unload a pool of pieces like the Lakers, it is difficult to call this a defeat. Instead, everything remains unchanged, which is an unusually conservative play for this organization, and that is okay.