Let’s see how New York Knicks fans are doing after their favorite team ended up with the third overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) May 15, 2019
Looks like they’re handling it as well as expected. Seriously though New York fans, you need to relax. While it’s disappointing that Zion Williamson will not be calling Madison Square Garden home in the fall, there is still a lot to be excited about regarding the future of basketball in the Big Apple.
Kevin Durant is Still Possible
Some people were under the impression that the Knicks needed to get Zion to land Kevin Durant this summer, which is not true. In fact, Durant may already be planning his future tenure in New York.
— Herd w/Colin Cowherd (@TheHerd) May 14, 2019
Now this report could be completely false, but it’s still interesting nonetheless. Durant to the Knicks has been talked about well before they finished in the bottom three this season. Well before they were even guaranteed a legitimate shot at Zion.
Durant reportedly wants to re-establish his legacy as “the guy” in a different city. Returning the lowly New York Knicks to glory would forever immortalize KD as one the greatest players ever.
Ja Morant or R.J. Barrett?
With the third pick of the draft, the Knicks will still end up with one of the three highly-touted prospects in this year’s class. While Zion to the New Orleans Pelicans is the lock of the century, the next pick is a toss-up between Ja Morant or R.J. Barrett. The question is who do the Memphis Grizzlies love more?
Ja Morant is being labeled as the next great NBA point guard whose skill set is similar to that of Russell Westbrook’s, while R.J. Barrett is an excellent shooter and complete player who many thought could’ve been the top pick over Zion at one time.
Ultimately, the Knicks will be thrilled to get a very good prospect with star potential. Whether or not they decide to keep that player is another story, but either route could return them to glory.
What About Anthony Davis?
With Zion Williamson in tow, surely this means Anthony Davis will have change of heart about wanting to leave New Orleans, right? Nope.
The New Orleans Pelicans are now set up to be Zion Williamson’s franchise to lift, and No. 1 pick could ease potential trade of Anthony Davis. His stance on a trade has not changed, league sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) May 15, 2019
Davis still wants out of New Orleans, which means the Pelicans would be wise to maximize the return for their disgruntled superstar this offseason. There will be no shortage of suitors for AD’s services, but a team will only acquire him if they can be assured that he will sign a long-term extension with them.
With that being said, there have been three teams reported to have a realistic chance of landing Davis; the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, and New York Knicks. Six months ago, the Knicks would’ve been seen as the dark horse of this group, but now, they could arguably be seen as the favorite.
New York has a ton of assets to offer New Orleans for Davis, with the centerpiece being the third overall pick. Given that AD is all but gone, the Pelicans would love the idea of selecting either Ja Morant or R.J. Barrett along with Zion to build one of the NBA’s new top young cores.
The Knicks also have a surplus of draft capital to trade, which includes their own picks and the picks they acquired from the Dallas Mavericks in the Kristaps Porzingis trade. They also have some very promising young players that would further interest New Orleans such as Dennis Smith Jr., Kevin Knox, Frank Ntilikina, and Mitchell Robinson.
Our guys at WTP New York came up with a rough idea of what a trade for Anthony Davis could look like, which you can vote on here.
— WTP New York (@WTPNYC) May 15, 2019
The initial reaction from Knicks fans is probably something like this: “That’s an awful trade. No way the Knicks give up that much to a team that has zero leverage.”
While it is a valid point that the Pelicans don’t have a ton of leverage in trade talks considering AD is guaranteed to eventually leave, people need to remember that the Knicks aren’t the only ones trying to make a trade. The Lakers and Celtics, two NBA giants, are also entering the bidding war, and believe me when I say that the Pelicans will take the best offer that they can get.
It’s also important to remember that the Lakers reportedly offered Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, two first round picks, and veteran players for Anthony Davis and the Pelicans said no. They are not giving away their franchise player for pennies on the dollar.
With the above proposal, the Pelicans are getting four quality young players (including the third pick) with high ceilings and two future first round picks. It seems like the Knicks are giving up an awful lot, and they very well may be, but acquiring AD and pairing him with Kevin Durant and another star undoubtedly turns New York into a title contender.
The Bottom Line
If the Knicks ultimately decide to keep the pick, they will add another blue-chip prospect to a very talented group of young players. In addition to that group, they will still have the money to bring in two max free agents, such as Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Kyrie Irving, or Kemba Walker.
On the other hand, if the Knicks to decide to trade their picks and their young talent for Anthony Davis, they could then pivot and sign two top free agents and form the next elite big three, which will contend for the title for the next four or five seasons.
No matter which scenario they choose, the Knicks win. Meaningful basketball will be played at Madison Square Garden next season and New York will become an NBA town once more.
Photo: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports