The New York Knicks entered last month’s NBA Draft Lottery tied with the Phoenix Suns and Cleveland Cavaliers as one of three teams that had the best chances of landing the No. 1 overall pick. As it turned out, the New Orleans Pelicans ended up with the top selection, with the Knicks getting the third pick. While rumors have suggested that New York could use that pick on someone like Duke wingman R.J. Barrett, with guards De’Andre Hunter (Virginia) and Jarrett Culver (Texas Tech) among the other prospective third overall selections, a new report suggests that the team could also trade that pick to the Atlanta Hawks for their two first-rounders in the 2019 NBA Draft.
Citing a subscriber-only article from ESPN‘s Jonathan Givony, Sporting News wrote on Friday that the Knicks are considering sending their No. 3 overall selection to the Hawks, in exchange for Atlanta’s No. 8 and No. 10 picks. New York is reportedly mulling over this move because the team is hoping to surround prospective free agent signees — such as the Golden State Warriors’ Kevin Durant and the Boston Celtics’ Kyrie Irving — with players who could “better complement” them on the floor.
As further noted, such a trade might only take place during the 2019 NBA Draft itself, as both teams are expected to prefer to have an idea of which players are available once the Hawks are on the clock at No. 8.
NBA Draft: Hawks, Knicks linked in lottery trade rumor https://t.co/Ai70IxYQnG
— Peachtree Hoops (@peachtreehoops) May 31, 2019
Separately, NJ.com also cited Givony’s report for ESPN, which also suggested that the Knicks are taking a good look at prospective draftees who “might be in play at No. 3 but could also very well fall later in the top 10.” Aside from Culver, these prospects include the likes of Duke’s Cam Reddish and North Carolina stars Coby White and Nassir Little.
Given the rumors that New York is thinking of drafting Barrett at No. 3, NJ.com added that the above scenario might not make much sense if the team considers the Blue Devils standout as a potential NBA All-Star. However, the outlet said that trading down with Atlanta as ESPN suggested could be a plausible move if they don’t see much upside in Barrett, with the caveat that the Knicks are able to sign someone like Durant and/or Irving as a superstar free agent acquisition.
“As [the Knicks’] roster currently stands, if they wind up signing Durant AND Irving to max deals, that would leave their roster depleted without many complementary pieces,” NJ.com pointed out in conclusion.