To exchange. Buy something cheaper. Use the pick for an established player. Stand firm.
The Knicks and Chairman Leon Rose have plenty of options for Thursday night’s 2022 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. There are a variety of directions they can take, a plethora of options to improve a roster sorely in need of a shake-up after a 37-win season.
The most popular would be finding a way to break into the top five to land Jaden Ivey, the mega-talented guard from Purdue who could fill the franchise’s void forever at point guard.
The Kings have been arguing for weeks about the No. 4 pick, with Ivey reportedly preferring to play somewhere other than Sacramento and the Kings loaded at point guard with De’Aaron Fox and Davion Mitchell. On Monday, Ivey seemed downright nostalgic about finding his way to the Knicks, saying it would be an “honor” to play there and mentioning them offhandedly when asked about possible adjustments to his skill set.
The 6-foot-4 Ivey has drawn comparisons to Russell Westbrook, Ja Morant and Donovan Mitchell because of his electric first step and elite athleticism, and could create a dynamic tandem with the building block RJ Barrett.
“I don’t know exactly what the package is, what it would take. I guess it would be significant,” ESPN draft pick Jonathan Givony said on a Zoom call Wednesday. “Jaden Ivey has as much star power as any player in this draft. The Knicks need a star, especially on the perimeter.”
Going up to four, or even five through the Pistons trade, would clearly require a lot, likely multiple future picks and one of the Knicks’ young players between Obi Toppin, Immanuel Quickley and Quentin Grimes. They have held talks with those teams, according to multiple reports, but the most likely scenario is that the Knicks remain in 11th place. At that spot, they likely have a number of intriguing players to choose from among Westchester. made Duke shooting guard AJ Griffin, centers Jalen Duren and Mark Williams, and forwards Johnny Davis, Ochai Agbaji and Malaki Branham.
The Knicks trained Griffin, Williams, Agbaji and Branham and met Davis, Wisconsin’s Big Ten Player of the Year, at the Draft Combine last month. They’ve done a lot of background work on Griffin, sources said, and his father, Adrian, an assistant coach with the Raptors, previously worked with Tom Thibodeau with the Bulls.
They could choose to surround Barrett with a shooter like Griffin or Agbaji, or maybe the Knicks will show their hand by drafting one of the greats, a sign future free agent Mitchell Robinson isn’t coming back. Then there’s the possibility of moving the pick to an established player like Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon, though ESPN reported that the Knicks resisted that potential move.
Trading down is also not out of the question. The Knicks have worked with a number of players who are projected to be in their teens and early 20s, prospects like Kentucky point guard Tyty Washington, G-League Ignite flanker MarJon Beauchamp and LSU flanker Tari Eason.
The 6-foot-3 Washington said Wednesday that he has had no further contact with the Knicks since they invited him to dinner and they invited him to practice. That said, the Knicks are known as the “Kentucky Knicks” and “Orange and Bluegrass,” employ William Wesley, John Calipari’s longtime confidante, and are in need of a top guard.
“He’s a prototypical NBA point guard,” Kentucky assistant Oliver Antigua told The Post. “He has great size, arm length, very creative on the ball. He is more athletic than people think. He is a guy who is a three-tier scorer.”
As the draft approaches, the Knicks could take different paths. They have been linked to a pool of prospects and have been involved in trade talks with various teams.
On Thursday night, Leon Rose has the opportunity to strengthen his squad. It remains to be seen how he does that.