RJ Barrett
(AP Photo / Alex Brandon)

The New York Knicks are doing their due diligence by exploring the possibility of a trade down scenario in the draft.

Danny Small

The rollercoaster offseason is off to a fast start. The New York Knicks landed the third overall pick in the draft, but the organization’s plan for the pick is still somewhat unclear. RJ Barrett seems to be the likely pick at No. 3, but there’s no guarantee the Knicks hold onto that pick.

According to Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz of ESPN, the Knicks have “explored the possibility” of trading out of the No. 3 pick, possibly in exchange for the No. 8 and 10 picks from the Atlanta Hawks. However, Ian Begley of SNY reports that any potential trade between New York and Atlanta is not under “serious consideration.”

It’s “due diligence” season, folks. That’s why the Knicks are taking a long look at guys like Cam Reddish and Jarrett Culver. Should the Knicks stand pat at three, Barrett will likely be the pick. That being said, the team should be exploring any and all options to improve the roster.

Obviously, there are tons of moving parts that will affect the front office’s decision on draft night. Whether or not they believe they can sign two stars in free agency could play a role in their decision. Furthermore, a trade for Anthony Davis remains a strong possibility as well.


Let’s break down three distinct possibilities for team president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry.

Trading Down to 8 & 10

The Hawks aren’t the only team who could potentially strike a deal with the Knicks. Obviously picks No. 8 and 10 are an intriguing package, but a team like the Cleveland Cavaliers could slide in and offer the No. 5 pick and future picks.

However, the 2019 draft class is so top-heavy it would fall over if you push it. The class consists of Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, Barrett, and everyone else. Trading down seems bizarre with a draft class this underwhelming.

Moreover, if the Knicks are really confident that they can bring in two superstars in free agency, it doesn’t make much sense to throw two unproven rookies in the mix. In the perfect scenario where Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving/Kemba Walker sign with the Knicks, the front office is better off pairing Barrett with those stars.

New York Knicks

Drafting Barrett Third Overall

This is the safest course of action. Stand pat at No. 3 and take Barrett. He’s one of the few prospects who scouts believe can develop into a bonafide All-Star.

He has legitimate superstar potential and his ability to act as a secondary creator could help take some pressure off of whoever is running the point in Madison Square Garden next season.

No one should be angry if the Knicks decide to take Barrett. The organization should trust their ability to develop him into a stud.

Trading For Anthony Davis

This is the only trade involving the No. 3 pick that makes any sense. Barring a team like the Hawks or Cavs offering up a treasure chest of draft capital for the third overall pick, the Knicks should forget the idea of trading down.

However, using that No. 3 pick as a centerpiece in an Anthony Davis trade makes perfect sense. The Toronto Raptors took a risk trading for Kawhi Leonard this past offseason, but it’s paying off in a big way. Leonard was enough to push Toronto into the NBA Finals and now they hold a one-game lead over the two-time defending champs.

The lesson here: Do everything necessary to acquire the superstar that can put your team over the edge. Reports indicate that Davis is open to staying in New York long-term. Therefore, it wouldn’t be as big of a risk for the Knicks as some of their competition.

Davis, in conjunction with Durant (and perhaps a third star), would catapult the Knicks into the upper echelon of the NBA.

To be clear, investigating possible trades shows the organization is doing it’s “due diligence” and it’s not a bad idea. But with all this said, there are really only two options for the Knicks in the draft. Either they keep the pick and take Barrett or include it in a blockbuster trade to acquire Davis. There shouldn’t be a third option.


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