The Golden State Warriors famously foiled the Knicks’ grand draft plans back in 2009 when they selected Stephen Curry at No. 7 — one slot ahead of where James Dolan’s club was picking.
Now the Warriors might do so again — picking 14th. The Knicks have the 19th and 21st selections and league sources believe they have their eyes on both Baylor combo guard/NCAA champion Davion Mitchell and Oregon sharpshooter Chris Duarte.
According to NBA sources, the Knicks have talked not just to Golden State about moving up, but also to the Pacers, who have the 13th pick. The Knicks are trying to package their two first-round picks but may also have to add more draft capital (they have a total of 20 picks through 2026).
The Warriors reportedly have rebuffed the Knicks. One source believes the Pacers will likely decline the Knicks if Mitchell is on the board. If Mitchell in not there for the Pacers, there is a chance of the Knicks swooping into 13 and perhaps landing the 6-foot-6 Duarte, the Jerry West Award Winner as the top college shooting guard.
“I’d be surprised if they stay put at 19 and 21,” former Nets executive Bobby Marks said on an ESPN conference call.
Knicks president Leon Rose finally is on center stage. The mostly invisible former agent gets to put his stamp on the team Thursday when he juggles a bevy of options on draft night. The Cavaliers are even contemplating trading point guard Collin Sexton.
Rose has been quiet in more ways than one. He hasn’t made an impactful roster move since early February when Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau lobbied to trade for Derrick Rose. Friday will mark the one-year anniversary of Rose last speaking to the media. That came on the Zoom call to introduce Thibodeau as head coach — by far Rose’s best move.
Rose also has two second-round picks in Nos. 32 and 58. Thibodeau probably will want just two rookies to enter training camp.
The Knicks’ five-game first-round ouster by Atlanta was an indication their 41-31 regular-season record could’ve been inflated by pandemic variables and enormously high use of their top two players, Julius Randle and RJ Barrett, who were 1-2 in NBA minutes and missed one game combined.
The Knicks still need more talent and know they need more shooters.
That’s why Duarte is so coveted by Rose after shooting 42.6 percent from 3-point range at Oregon while being a solid defender. At 24, he’s ready to be part of an NBA rotation.
“His NBA prospects are excellent because he can really play,’’ ESPN’s Jay Bilas said. “Chris is one of the complete players in this draft. He’s a terrific defender and puts so much into his defense. Ad talk about a sniper, he can really shoot it. I’m a huge believer in Chris Duarte.’’
Sources are starting to believe even if Golden State passes on Duarte, Washington might snap him up at 15.
If the Knicks are unable to move up and have to use their 19th and 21st picks, the Knicks have looked at various 3-and-D wings — including Virginia’s Trey Murphy III and Stanford freshman Ziaire Williams, whom one scout says is a “project who doesn’t yet have a defined skill set but is one of the top athletes.”
One source contends if Duke’s Jalen Johnson slips to 19, the Knicks may pass because of his baggage.
Point guard still remains the Knicks’ largest issue and that may be resolved in free agency. The Post reported Thibodeau has pushed for West Virginia point guard Miles McBride and league scouts feel he’s a Thibodeau-type player because of his football-like toughness.
But the Knicks have also worked out Florida’s shot-making point guard Tre Mann and appear high on Mitchell’s running mate, Jared Butler.
Some mock drafts have the Knicks taking the best player available instead of by position and have linked them with Kentucky big man Isaiah Jackson, Texas’ Kai Jones and Spain’s Usman Garuba.
The Knicks have worked out Jackson and their front office would have the best Kentucky intel on him as John Calipari is blood brothers with Rose and senior adviser William Wesley.
Those three, however are power forward/center types and non-shooters. A selection of any among the big-man trio is with the idea of taking the best player available, hoping to trade him later if superstar guards Damian Lillard and Bradley Beal become available the trade market. Lillard and Beal are mulling their futures. Taking Jackson also would not bode well for 2020 lottery pick, Obi Toppin, a power forward.
“I think you can’t be thinking who would Washington want or maybe who would Portland want?” Marks said. “If you stay put at 19 and 21, [it’s] who are those two players that maybe fit for you from a long-term standpoint. I think when you’re at 19, I think you’re probably picking best available. I think when you’re at 21, I think you’re probably looking at more of a need standpoint. If those two [Beal, Lillard] do become available post-draft, mid-August let’s say, you still have enough to potentially go out and do something.”
Free agency begins Monday and Rose will also have $50 million in cap space to do more. The draft is just Rose’s opening act.
Credit: New York Post