The Knicks didn’t trade into the first round of the 2023 NBA Draft. They didn’t trade into the second round. They had a quiet night on Thursday.
They cashed in their 2023 first-round pick in February, sending it to Portland as part of the Josh Hart trade.
In a perfect world for the Knicks, Hart is helping them win big games at the Garden next spring. At that point, no one will care about the 2023 NBA Draft.
But if things go sideways for the Knicks, you might look at the 2022 and 2023 drafts as missed opportunities for a developing team.
Did the Knicks try to get in the 2023 draft? They touched base with at least one team with a late first-round pick leading into Thursday. Obviously, nothing came to fruition.
The biggest moves for New York came after Thursday’s draft. They agreed to two-way contracts with Jacob Toppin (Obi Toppin’s brother) and Jaylen Martin from Overtime Elite.
Now, they move forward to free agency. The Knicks currently project to have the $12.2 million non-tax payer exception in free agency. There is internal support for the idea of pursuing Golden State’s Donte DiVincenzo in free agency. DiVincenzo has a player option with Golden State for 2023-24. He can decline the option and test free agency.
But the Knicks don’t currently have a rotation spot available. They would need to trade a player to create one. Will they move Obi Toppin? I don’t know how close they came to trading him on Thursday night.
My understanding is that they would trade Toppin if it became clear that there was no clear path to increased playing time for the 2020 lottery pick.
The Knicks offered some evidence earlier this week that they were open to making a significant trade. They had contact with the Clippers about a potential Paul George deal. They were expected to check back in with Los Angeles on Thursday. It is unknown if the Clippers are willing to move George or if they are just listening when teams call.
If healthy, George would be a perfect addition to this Knicks team. But if the Clippers want a return that would help them compete for a title in 2024, it’s hard to see how the Knicks meet that demand.
There should be other options for the Knicks on the trade market this offseason. They can trade as many as eight first-round picks in a deal. So they have the draft capital to make a significant move. Based on their approach with the Clippers and George, they’re at least considering it.