Trade up. Trade down. Use the pick for an established player. Stand pat.
The Knicks and president Leon Rose are flush with options for Thursday night’s 2022 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. There are a variety of directions they can go, a myriad of options to take to upgrade a roster badly in need of a jolt coming off of a dismal 37-win season.
The most popular one would be finding a way to get into the top five to land Jaden Ivey, the mega-talented guard out of Purdue who could fill the franchise’s forever void at point guard.
The Kings have been holding discussions for weeks on the No. 4 pick, Ivey reportedly prefers to play somewhere other than Sacramento and the Kings are loaded at point guard with De’Aaron Fox and Davion Mitchell. On Monday, Ivey seemed downright wistful of finding his way to the Knicks, saying he would be “honored” to play there and brought them up unprompted when asked about potential fits for 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 building block RJ Barrett.
“I don’t know exactly what the package is, what it would take. I assume it would be significant,” ESPN draft insider Jonathan Givony said on a Zoom call on Wednesday. “Jaden Ivey has as much star power as any player in this draft. The Knicks need a star, especially in the backcourt.”
Moving up to four, or even five by trading with the Pistons, would clearly take a lot, likely multiple future picks and one of the Knicks’ young players from among Obi Toppin, Immanuel Quickley and Quentin Grimes. They have held talks with those teams, according to multiple reports, but the more probable scenario has the Knicks staying at No. 11. At that spot, odds are they will have a number of intriguing players to choose from among Westchester one-and-done Duke guard AJ Griffin, centers Jalen Duren and Mark Williams, and wings Johnny Davis, Ochai Agbaji and Malaki Branham.
The Knicks worked out Griffin, Williams, Agbaji and Branham and met with Davis, the Big Ten Player of the Year at Wisconsin, at the draft combine last month. They have 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 opt to surround Barrett with a shooter such as Griffin or Agbaji, or perhaps the Knicks show their hand by drafting one of the big men, a sign that free agent-to-be Mitchell Robinson won’t be back. Then there is the possibility of moving the pick for an established player like on-the-block guard Malcolm Brogdon of the Pacers, though ESPN reported the Knicks balked at that possible move.
Trading down is not out of the question, either. The Knicks have worked out a number of players that are projected to go from the low teens to the early 20’s, prospects such as Kentucky point guard Tyty Washington, G-League Ignite wing MarJon Beauchamp and LSU wing Tari Eason.
The 6-foot-3 Washington said Wednesday he hasn’t had any further contact with the Knicks since they took him to dinner and hosted him for a workout. That said, the Knicks have become known as the “Kentucky Knicks” and “Orange and Bluegrass,” employ longtime John Calipari confidant William Wesley, and are in need of a lead guard.
“He’s a prototypical NBA point guard,” Kentucky assistant Oliver Antigua told The Post. “He’s got great size, arm length, very creative with the ball. He’s more athletic than people give him credit for. He’s a guy that’s a three-level scorer.”
As the draft nears, the Knicks could go several different ways. They have been linked to a bevy of prospects, and have been involved in trade talks with a number of teams.
Thursday night, Leon Rose has a chance to bolster his roster. How he goes about doing that remains to be seen.