The Knicks did not trade for Jaden Ivey. They didn’t trade. They traded the first round entirely in Thursday’s NBA draft, all with Jalen Brunson in mind, as they add future guarded picks and trade some to free up space on the edge.
Amid reports that they desperately tried to wean the Purdue superstar away from the Pistons, which took him with the fifth pick, the Knicks ended up trading the 11th pick, which was used on French winger Ousmane Dieng, to the Thunder for three future conditions first. . round picks, commissioner Adam Silver announced during the draft. Athletic said the picks are all lottery-protected in the 2023 draft, belonging to the Pistons, Wizards and Nuggets.
They then acquired Memphis center Jalen Duren from the Hornets in exchange for several future picks – the 2023 first round owned by the Nuggets and four future second rounds – and sent him to the Pistons along with Kemba Walker to clear approximately $9. million in salary cap space. As part of the Pistons deal, the Knicks received the Bucks’ 2025 first-round pick.
ESPN cap guru Bobby Marks reported that the moves will leave the Knicks with $104 million in guaranteed contracts, and the cap is expected to remain at $122 million. To sign Brunson, the Knicks would need to get about $25 million under the cap, it is believed.
By the time the Knicks were initially slated to pick, Duren, Westchester, AJ Griffin, and Duke star Mark Williams were all available. Instead, they caught Dieng, prompting boos from Knicks fans at the Barclays Center, and quickly treated him. Once word got out that they were landing and sending Duren to the Pistons, some thought it might be for Ivey, but that didn’t materialize.
Ivey had said on Monday that he would be “honored” to play for the Knicks and they were a franchise he could see himself ending up with. When asked about the rumours, he replied, “My agents controlled all of this.”
Instead of Ivey, the Knicks began positioning themselves to sign Brunson, the former Villanova star who had a standout season with the Mavericks. The Post’s Marc Berman previously reported that the Knicks’ plan was to try the pending free agent with the hope that he would be the solution to their long search for a point guard and a differentiator alongside RJ Barrett in the backcourt.
However, it remains to be seen whether the Knicks can lure Brunson, 25, 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 postseason star, recording 21.6 points per game. Brunson stepped up when star Luka Doncic was out early in the playoffs, exploding for 41 points in a Game 2 win over the Jazz in the opening round.
Dallas owner Mark Cuban has said he wants to keep Brunson, pointing out that the Mavericks can pay him more than other teams.
“I think he wants to stay, and that’s the most important thing,” Cuban said after the Mavericks were knocked out of the playoffs in late May.
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The Knicks recently signed Brunson’s father Rick to join head coach Tom Thibodeau’s team, and could offer him a prominent role as a starting point guard. Rose, of course, represented Brunson at Creative Artists Agency before joining the Knicks, and Rose’s son Sam is Brunson’s current agent. Common sense suggests that Leon Rose has an idea if the Knicks can get their ex-client.
Essentially, that was the crux of Thursday night’s first round for the Knicks: They failed to catch Ivey, but they may have helped each other in their search for Brunson as they added more assets.