If you’re a New York Knicks fan and were confused during last Thursday night’s 2022 NBA Draft, it’s okay because the Knicks made some complex and unusual moves. The Knicks sent the #11 pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder for three future picks, which they hope will improve their chances of securing a top-end player through a trade. The Knicks also cleared necessary cap space after they sent Kemba Walker to the Detroit Pistons as a part of a three-team trade.
The Knicks had the #11 pick in last week’s draft and were mentioned in numerous trade rumors for the #4 pick (owned by the Sacramento Kings). The Knicks liked Jaden Ivey from Purdue, who was projected to get selected with the #4 pick.
In a rare twist of fate, four out of the top five picks in the draft didn’t go as projected. Numerous mock drafts had Jabari Smith from Auburn as the consensus #1 pick and heading to the Orlando Magic. Almost every bookie and sportsbook pegged Smith as the betting favorite to go #1. The Magic, however, drafted Paolo Banchero out of Duke with the top pick, and Smith slipped to #3, where the Rockets snagged him.
The Oklahoma City Thunder picked Chet Holmgren from Gonzaga, which was the sole pick in the top five that most prognosticators got right.
The Sacramento Kings didn’t pull the trigger on a trade for the #4 pick, but they didn’t select Ivey, either. Instead, the Kings selected Keegan Murray from Iowa and the Detroit Pistons picked Ivey at #5.
Knicks trade #11 pick to OKC for 3 first-rounders
The Knicks selected Ousmane Dieng, a French player from the New Zealand Breakers in the Australian basketball league, with the #11 pick. They quickly sent him to the Thunder in exchange for three protected future first-round draft picks.
The Thunder already had two first-rounders with the #2 and #12 spots, but after the trade with the Knicks, they secured three picks in the top 12. The Thunder selected Jalen Williams from Santa Clara at #12 and added Dieng via the Knicks at #11.
The Knicks saved a few bucks by trading out of the top 11. They later picked Trevor Keels from Duke with the #42 overall pick in the second round.
With three additional first-round picks, the Knicks were clearly stock-piling picks so they can make a run at acquiring Donovan Mitchell or another top-end player somewhere down the road. The Knicks need a point guard, and Malcolm Brogdon has also been mentioned in trade rumors with the Indiana Pacers.
Then there’s the Kyrie Irving drama. After Irving and the Brooklyn Nets hit a snag in contract extension talks, Irving can enter free agency instead of opting in for one more season with the Nets. He likes the Knicks, along with the Los Angeles Lakers, LA Clippers, and Miami Heat. If Irving leaves, the Nets want to work out a sign-and-trade, and the Knicks wanted the extra draft picks just in case he’s available.
Knicks dump Kemba Walker for a slew of second-rounders
The Knicks had more second-round picks than they actually needed. They used four to entice the Detroit Pistons to take Kemba Walker off their hands. It was a part of a three-team deal that also involved the Charlotte Hornets. The Hornets selected Jalen Duren from Memphis with the #13 pick, but traded him to the Knicks in exchange for a future first-rounder and a pair of second-round picks. The Knicks then shipped Duren to the Pistons along with Walker. The Pistons are expected to work out a contract buyout with Walker, and he’ll become a free agent.
Walker was an elite scorer and playmaker before his creaky knees slowed him down. His lack of defense earned him a spot in Tom Thibodeau’s dog house, much to the dismay of fans. Walker grew up in the Bronx and was a fan favorite at MSG, but he languished in Thib’s system. The Knicks ditched Walker and shed his $9.2 million contract, which gave them much-needed cap space.
If the Knicks want to sign Jalen Brunson from the Mavs, they’ll need all the space they can get. All signs point toward ditching Alec Burks as well. The Knicks recently added Rick Brunson — Jalen’s father — as an assistant coach. The elder Brunson also played for the Knicks during his tenure in the NBA before he pivoted to coaching. Now, just because Brunson’s father is an assistant coach with the Knicks doesn’t mean he’s a lock to sign with the Knicks, but it was a bold move to try to entice him to head to New York City.
Despite the wheeling and dealing on draft night, the Knicks are still +20000 odds as a long shot to win the 2023 NBA Championship.