Here’s our big board looking at different scenarios for the Knicks’ No. 8 pick:
1. STAYING AT 8: If the Knicks pick at 8 and don’t trade for Russell Westbrook or Chris Paul, they could have the choice to draft one of the top point guards or wings in the draft at No. 8. Obviously, so much depends on what teams ahead of them do. But let’s assume that there draft order remains the same ahead of them. As we sit here five days before the draft, I don’t think Obi Toppin will be there for them at 8. If Detroit takes Patrick Williams and Atlanta takes Isaac Okoro, the Knicks would be able to choose from Killian Hayes, Devin Vassell, Tyrese Haliburton and Kira Lewis Jr. Do they go point guard or wing in this scenario? It’s safest to assume that they take a lead guard and that they’d go with Haliburton here. Haliburton has added strength to his frame since the end of the college season and his playmaking and defensive versatility are attractive. One factor here that’s worth noting: Haliburton is a client of CAA, Leon Rose’s former agency. So, fair or not, if Haliburton struggles and a guard taken a few spots later turns out to be the better player, the Knicks will leave themselves open to criticism due to Haliburton’s agency affiliation.
2. STAYING AT 8: Sticking with the same scenario (Knicks stay at 8, don’t trade for Westbrook or Paul and the draft order ahead of them remains the same), the Knicks could opt to take the guard that many see, in the long term, as a better prospect that Haliburton: Kira Lewis Jr. Lewis Jr. has been projected lower than eight in most mock drafts, but several teams recently said they’d take Lewis Jr. ahead of Haliburton. Lewis Jr. worked out for the Knicks, which, you’d think, carries a little more weight this year than in past years because teams were limited to 10 in-person workouts. As of five days before the draft, they hadn’t had an in-person workout with Hayes or Haliburton. They had worked out Toppin and Vassell. But, as things stand on Saturday, I’d expect them to take a lead guard ahead of Vassell in this scenario. That’s why I currently see Lewis Jr. as a strong possibility here.
3. STAYING AT 8, TRADING FOR A PG:If the Knicks traded for Westbrook or Paul ahead of the draft, that would alter their approach on draft night. (On Saturday, some agents were under the impression the moratorium would be lifted by Monday.) If they traded for either veteran guard, several teams expect them to put together a roster to compete for a playoff spot. My best guess is that they would lean more toward drafting a wing in this spot, because there are people in the organization who would like to see Dennis Smith Jr. have a shot to earn a rotation spot at backup point guard in 2020-21. So if they dealt for Paul or Westbrook, my guess is they’d take Vassell over a point guard at 8.
4. TRADING BACK: The Knicks had been exploring all of their options ahead of the draft, including the possibility of trading back in the teens, sources confirm. If they think they could get their targeted player with a later pick, they will have options to trade back. The Magic, Suns and Spurs are among the teams picking after New York who have been open to trading their picks, per sources. Depending on how far the Knicks move back, Kentucky’s Tyrese Maxey could be a target. There are people in the organization who are fans of the Kentucky guard. He’s seen as a player who could be available in the late Lottery. Aaron Nesmith, who was scheduled to meet with the Knicks, could also be available here. As could Saddiq Bey, who sources confirm has worked out for the Knicks. Bey would be the pick if New York felt that it could put a roster together that’s ready to compete. But I think it’s most likely that they take Maxey in this scenario since I’m assuming they wouldn’t trade for Paul/Westbrook and also trade down in the draft. If they trade for Westbrook/Paul and trade back in the draft, I think Bey will be the pick. The New York Post first reported that the Knicks were considering trading back and The Athletic first reported that they’d worked out Bey.
5. TRADING UP. As it stands on Saturday morning, this seems like the least likely scenario for New York. No teams or agents have gotten the sense that they love any of the top prospects enough to trade Mitchell Robinson and/or the first-round picks it would require to move up. The most likely path to moving up, in my opinion: New York acquires the No. 2 pick by absorbing the Andrew Wiggins contract in a 3-team deal that sends a top veteran (New Orleans’ Jrue Holiday?) to Golden State. In this scenario, I could see them taking James Wiseman at No. 2, which would presumably lead to a trade of Robinson. If LaMelo Ball is available in this scenario, he’d be tough to pass up. But some with the organization have expressed pessimism about the idea of trading up to land Ball. Several people in Ball’s circle saw New York as a preferred destination before the Lottery. But momentum around Ball to the Knicks seemed to fade a bit after the Lottery.