The Knicks didn’t trade up for Jaden Ivey. They didn’t trade down. They traded out of the first round entirely in Thursday’s NBA draft, all with Jalen Brunson in mind it appears while adding future protected picks and trading some away all to clear cap space.
Amid reports they desperately tried to pry Ivey, the Purdue superstar guard, away from the Pistons, who took him with the fifth pick, the Knicks wound up trading the 11th pick, which was used on French wing Ousmane Dieng, to the Thunder for three conditional future first-round picks, commissioner Adam Silver announced during the draft. The Athletic reported the picks are all lottery protected in the 2023 draft, belonging to the Pistons, Wizards and Nuggets. The Wizards’ pick is top-14 protected and the Pistons’ pick conveys if it’s not in the top 18.
They then acquired the 13th pick, Memphis center Jalen Duren, from the Hornets in exchange for several future picks — the 2023 first-rounder belonging to the Nuggets and four future second-rounders — and sent him to the Pistons along with Kemba Walker to free up approximately $9 million in salary cap space.
As part of the deal with the Pistons, the Knicks received the Bucks’ first-round pick in 2025 that is top-four protected. Overall, the Knicks now have 11 first-round picks and 11 second-round picks in the next seven years.
ESPN cap guru and former Nets executive Bobby Marks reported the moves will leave the Knicks with $104 million in guaranteed contracts and the cap is expected to reside at $122 million. To land Brunson, the Knicks would need to get roughly $25 million under the cap, it is believed.
At the time the Knicks were initially scheduled to pick 11th, Duren, Westchester one-and-done shooting guard AJ Griffin and fellow Duke star Mark Williams were all available. Instead, they took Dieng, leading to loud boos from Knicks fans at Barclays Center, and quickly dealt him. Once word spread they were landing and shipping Duren to the Pistons, there was some thought it could be for Ivey, but that didn’t materialize.
Ivey had said Monday he would be “honored” to play for the Knicks and they were one franchise he could see himself winding up with. When asked about the rumors, he replied: “My agents controlled all that.”
Instead of Ivey, the Knicks began to put themselves in position to land Brunson, the former Villanova star who had a breakout season with the Mavericks. The Post’s Marc Berman previously reported the Knicks’ plan was to make a run at the pending free agent with the hope he would be the solution to their long search for a point guard and a difference-maker alongside RJ Barrett in the backcourt.
However, it remains to be seen whether the Knicks can lure the 25-year-old Brunson away from the Mavericks. He is coming off a career year in which he averaged 16.3 points and 4.8 assists, and was something of a breakout star in the postseason, posting 21.6 points per game. Brunson stepped up when star Luka Doncic was out at the start of the playoffs, exploding for 41 points in a Game 2 victory over the Jazz in the opening round.
Dallas owner Mark Cuban has said he wants to keep Brunson, pointing out the Mavericks can pay him more than other teams.
“I think he wants to stay, and that’s most important,” Cuban said after the Mavericks were eliminated from the playoffs in late May.
But the Knicks did recently hire Brunson’s father, Rick, to join coach Tom Thibodeau’s staff, and can offer him a starring role as their starting point guard. Team president Leon Rose, of course, repped Brunson at Creative Artists Agency before coming over to the Knicks, and Rose’s son Sam is Brunson’s current agent. Common sense would suggest Leon Rose has an idea if the Knicks can land his former client.
Essentially, that was the crux of Thursday night’s first round for the Knicks: They couldn’t get Ivey, but may have helped themselves in their pursuit of Brunson while adding further assets.
In the second round, the Knicks selected Duke guard Trevor Keels with the 42nd overall pick.