A few notes as we get closer to the draft on Thursday night:
In the days leading up to Thursday’s draft, the Knicks have explored ways to trade up in the first round or trade for a veteran player. The Knicks and Wizards touched base recently on a trade that would have sent Washington’s first-round pick to New York. It’s unclear how much traction there is for that trade.
You can be sure that the Knicks, like every other team, will continue to explore their options up until they are on the clock at No. 19.
No matter what happens on Thursday, one offseason goal for the Knicks seems clear: People in touch with the team say New York hopes to maintain enough cap flexibility to pursue top free agents in 2022.
That free agency class is expected to include Zach LaVine and Bradley Beal.
The Knicks enter Thursday with the chance to create roughly $50 million in space this offseason.
Those in touch with the club recently say the Knicks have been weary of committing a significant amount of long-term money to free agents this offseason.
If they maintain this stance during free agency, they could offer significant one- or two-year deals to veteran free agents. But they risk missing out on free agent targets who want long-term security.
That’s worth noting for veterans such as Kyle Lowry and Spencer Dinwiddie, who are expected to command multi-year offers. Maybe the Knicks can land a veteran point guard by offering an exorbitant one- or two-year deal? As noted earlier in the week, Dinwiddie is on New York’s radar and there is one key decision maker who is on board with signing the guard.
The club has also discussed other options at point guard, including a young group of guards that, presumably, wouldn’t be as expensive as a veteran like Lowry.
What if the Knicks stand pat?
ESPN’s Bobby Marks said on Wednesday that he’d be surprised if the Knicks kept both of their first-round picks (19 and 21). That is the general sentiment around the league entering Thursday night.
The Knicks probably don’t have an appetite to carry three rookies on their 2021-22 roster. (New York also has the No. 32 pick, usually a player who makes his NBA roster. The Knicks also have the No. 58 pick).
If New York trades up, Oregon’s Chris Duarte, Gonzaga’s Corey Kispert, Virginia’s Trey Murphy III and Baylor’s Davion Mitchell are among players they’ve had on their radar at times in the weeks leading up to the draft.
Duarte has strong support within the organization and some with the NYK have felt that Kispert would be a great addition.
Kentucky’s Isaiah Jackson remains a target for the Knicks. Other players that have been on their radar in the weeks leading up to the draft include: Stanford’s Ziaire Williams, VCU’s Bones Hyland, Houston’s Quentin Grimes, Auburn’s Sharife Cooper, Real Madrid's Usman Garuba and Illinois' Ayo Dosunmu.
Trades for veterans
A few players to keep an eye on as potential trade targets for New York? Collin Sexton, Terrence Ross and Landry Shamet. The Knicks have had different degrees of interest in each player in the Leon Rose era.
As SNY reported on Wednesday night, several teams have been in touch with Orlando on potential Terrence Ross trades. The Lakers and Pelicans are among the teams who have had interest in Shamet. The Knicks coveted Shamet last season when they were talking to the Clippers about a Marcus Morris trade. New York had some interest in Ross prior to the 2021 trade deadline.
Also worth noting: They had discussions with Orlando prior to the 2021 deadline on Evan Fournier, who is an unrestricted free agent this offseason. It doesn’t seem as if Damian Lillard or Beal will request trades ahead of Thursday night’s draft. The Sixers have been talking to several teams about a trade of Ben Simmons, SNY sources confirm. Simmons seems like the most likely star to be moved on draft night.
In a non-Knicks note: Lonzo Ball’s name came up in recent discussions between the Pelicans and Pacers. Indiana would acquire Ball in a sign-and-trade in this scenario. It’s unknown if those talks ever reached an advanced level. Ball will be a restricted free agent.
Former Knick Raymond Felton is participating in the AFFL, a professional flag football league. Felton is playing wide receiver for the Your Tax Gurus team.
Felton was unable to play last weekend but the Your Tax Gurus advanced from a field of 32 to the AFFL quarterfinals. So Felton is set to make his debut with Your Tax Gurus on Aug. 14 in Houston.
Michael Vick, Chad Johnson, Terrell Owens, Vince Young and Danny Wuerffel are among the other pro athletes who played in the AFFL.