What’s Next After Disappointing NBA Draft Lottery
Photo Credit: Keenan Hairston
By Fiifi Frimpong
“And the number one pick in the 2019 NBA Draft will go to the New York Knicks!”
Those were the words Knick fans waited to hear all year after enduring a brutal 17-win season filled with losing and dreams of the upcoming offseason.
Step one of the 2019 offseason was to strike luck with a 14 percent chance to land the number one pick. Step one failed.
We all know how the draft lottery ended on the 15th. New Orleans Pelicans landed the first pick and won the Zion Williamson sweepstakes. The Memphis Grizzlies will pick second. The Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, and Cleveland Cavaliers round out the top five.
The Knicks weren’t able to land the Duke superstar, but the offseason doesn’t end there. There are still all-star free agents to sign and possible trade packages to look for.
Here are some possibilities to look for this summer from the Knicks:
Sign Two Free Agents With Max Deals
The first one is obvious. Free agency begins at 6 p.m. on June 30 and the New York Knicks have enough cap space two bring in two top-tier players that would quickly make the team a contender in the eastern conference. Preferably, the Knicks would pursue Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, who are both likely to opt-out of their current deals. The two are known to be good friends and a signing of one would possibly lead to a phone call to land the other in Manhattan.
Kawhi Leonard will suffice, but there hasn’t been one report that linked the forward to the Knicks. And trying to get him to comment on free agency is like pulling teeth.
Let’s say the Knick’s whiff on one… or dare I say two top free agents, there are consolation options available.
Bronx Native Kemba Walker would be an instant fan favorite and has proven he is a solid all-star point guard in this league. Jimmy Butler will be on the open market this summer as well. The shooting guard would be a great suitor for the Knicks, bringing his defensive versatility and toughness to the Garden each night.
Explore Trade Packages for Anthony Davis
A little less intriguing with the third pick rather than the first, the Knicks could still explore an avenue to land the all-star big man in the Big Apple. Kevin Knox, Frank Ntilikina, Dennis Smith Jr., and Damyean Dotson are all players the Knicks may be willing to part ways with for Davis.
The centerpiece of the trade is obviously the third pick in the 2019 draft. Add that pick, a selection of aforementioned players, first or second round picks from upcoming 2020 and 2021 drafts and the Pelicans would pick up the phone to entertain the Knick’s offer.
Landing Davis would be ideal, especially after his agent made it known that the Knicks are a desired landing spot where he would be willing to resign if he chooses to exercise his player option at the end of 2020.
However, Knick fans can’t get their hopes too high. According to the New York Daily News’ Stefan Bondy, the Pelicans “are not high on” Kevin Knox. Ntilkina’s recent regression this season doesn’t make him a must-have for the Pelicans either.
Draft R.J Barrett With Third Pick
Assuming a trade for Anthony Davis doesn’t go down, R.J Barrett should be available to grab after Williamson and Ja Morant are taken off the board. The lefty wing player could be a nice piece to potentially play alongside Kyrie Irving in the backcourt.
The 18-year-old has also made it known that the Knicks are one of two desired landing spots. The match works for both sides.
Trade Frank Ntilikina
Even if he isn’t included in a potential Anthony Davis Deal, the Knicks should explore the possibilities of what teams would offer for Frank Ntilikina.
The young Frenchman didn’t show much promise during his sophomore campaign in the 2018-2019 season. His sophomore slump was riddled with injuries and a lackluster offensive game. This led him to spending much of the season on the bench on a roster that was already filled with guards.
The guard still shows promise on defense and with his size, a team may be in the market for Ntilikina on draft night.