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NBA AM: Knicks Looking To Deal Lottery Pick?

The New York Knicks were clearly disappointed sliding two spots in the draft lottery. Will they trade their pick?

Lang Greene profile picture
Updated 1 year ago on

5 min read

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Knicks Looking To Deal Lottery Pick?

The New York Knicks are coming off of the worst season in the history of the franchise. But as the 2014-15 campaign concluded, most fans took solace in the fact a high lottery pick was in the cards to aid in the team’s rebuilding efforts.

The Knicks will still get a high draft pick this next month at the NBA Draft, but the ping-pong balls didn’t work in their favor during Tuesday’s draft lottery. New York dropped two slots and will now pick fourth overall on June 25. This seemingly removes the franchise from the Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor sweepstakes, so they’ll miss out on two extremely skilled big men recognized as the draft’s top prospects.

The slide down the draft order could open up the Knicks to consider trading the fourth overall pick, according to general manager Steve Mills.

“I think we’re going to be open to a lot of things,” Mills said, according to Peter Botte of the New York Daily News. “We know we can get a good player at this pick. We’re also going to be open to talking to teams and looking at different options. A lot will depend on what we think we’re going to end up doing in free agency. That will have something to do with (who) we end up drafting.

“I think our goal is to become a playoff team (next season). We feel like we have the opportunity to gradually build this team… We’ll do the things that we have to do to make this team better. I feel very confident about that.”

The Knicks have only $32 million in guaranteed salaries on the books for next season and will have roughly $25 million in cap space this summer to rigorously explore free agency. The team will also have to make free agent decisions on Andrea Bargnani, Alexey Shved, Quincy Acy, Travis Wear, Cole Aldrich and Shane Larkin.

The fourth overall pick marks the highest draft choice for the franchise since the team selected Kenny Walker with the No. 5 overall pick in 1986.

Yet, there was still the feeling of a letdown after the team slid in the draft lottery.

“I was disappointed because we obviously wanted to get No. 1,” Mills said. “But it was not a total disappointment because we knew we were going to get a good player wherever we ended up in our range in this draft. We feel really good about four. We feel good that at this draft we could have gotten a good player anywhere from one to five. We went into this optimistic and we remain the same way.”

This summer will be a pivotal one for team president Phil Jackson as he looks to make his imprint on the team. The franchise has a high draft choice and a decent amount of salary cap room. The squad also has just four guys with guaranteed deals next season – Carmelo Anthony, Jose Calderon, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Cleanthony Early – giving Jackson plenty of roster flexibility to bring in new parts.

Lady Luck Shines on the Lakers

Heading into the NBA Draft lottery, the Los Angeles Lakers were slotted to receive the fourth overall pick in next month’s draft. However, the ping-pong balls did bounce in the Lakers’ favor and the team moved up to the second overall slot. While the 2015 draft class features a strong amount of talent in the top five, moving into the top two puts Los Angeles in direct play for either Karl-Anthony Towns or Jahlil Okafor – the consensus top two talents in the class.

The Lakers have won a combined 48 contests the past two seasons and needed a stroke of luck to occur in order to aid their rebuilding project. They got that luck last night, especially considering things could have went horribly for them since they could have lost their pick altogether (to the Philadelphia 76ers) had it fallen outside of the top five.

Future Hall of Fame guard Kobe Bryant is returning from yet another injury and entering the final year of his deal. Retirement is certainly a possibility for Bryant. The team’s lottery pick last year, Julius Randle, missed all of this season (save for a few minutes). Those are two huge question marks, for sure, but the potential addition of Okafor or Towns could be a franchise changer.

Add in the fact the team has a decent amount of flexibility, the Lakers could turn things around quickly assuming Bryant returns to form, Randle comes back healthy and their lottery pick this year lives up to his billing.

The Lakers have $35 million in guaranteed salaries on the books next season. Bryant’s $25 million takes up the largest chunk of this total. Guard Nick Young ($5.2 million), Randle ($3.1 million) and forward Ryan Kelly ($1.7 million) take up the remaining of the guaranteed dollars.

Center Jordan Hill can opt-in to the final year of his deal worth $9 million and that would impact the team’s cap space. Workhorse forward Ed Davis ($1.1 million) has the same option. Guys such as Robert Sacre, Jordan Clarkson, Tarik Black and Jabari Brown all have non-guaranteed deals less than one million for next season.

From a free agent standpoint, decisions will need to be made on the futures of Carlos Boozer, Jeremy Lin, Wayne Ellington, Ronnie Price and Wesley Johnson with the team long term.

Lakers fans will have to temper their excitement surrounding a team coming off a 21-win campaign, but if things break right for the franchise, a significant improvement in 2016 isn’t out of the question.

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Lang Greene is a senior NBA writer for Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last 10 seasons

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