The New York Knicks are one of the primary teams linked to a
potential Donovan Mitchell blockbuster trade this summer.
Because Mitchell is currently in a Utah Jazz situation that is
likely leading to a tear down and rebuild more than seemingly any
other franchise in the NBA, conventional wisdom (along with some
reporting) has suggested that the team will likely part ways with
either him or Rudy Gobert — potentially both — to reshape
But the Knicks are honestly not a team ready for Mitchell.
They’d acquire him and do... what?
This is an Eastern Conference with the Boston Celtics, Miami
Heat and Milwaukee Bucks at the top. It's one where the
Philadelphia 76ers, Toronto Raptors, Chicago Bulls and Brooklyn
Nets are possibly an offseason away from joining the tier-one
And with the Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers and Charlotte
Hornets — all of whom were better than the Knicks last season —
expected to build on successes within these last two seasons,
acquiring Mitchell wouldn’t elevate the Knicks enough. Unlike the
Heat, where Mitchell would serve as a missing piece, the Knicks
would be forfeiting much of their young talent and/or draft capital
to make such a deal.
And this is why New York should stay the course by trading up in
the draft and grabbing dynamic Purdue guard Jaden Ivey.
At 6-foot-4, 200-pounds, Ivey has often been compared to Ja
Morant. It feels like an easy comparison, but even their
college careers have some parallels. (Not a ton, but some.) Morant
was a starter as a true freshman with the Murray State Racers.
While he was clearly good, he hadn’t yet been considered a top-five
NBA prospect, which he became throughout his breakout sophomore
campaign. Ivey started more than half of his freshman-year games
and similarly showed promise, but wasn’t yet the top-five prospect
he since grew into coming off this season's strong sophomore
BasketballNews.com Sr. NBA Draft Analyst Matt Babcock notes
that, while Ivey is still in development, his ceiling can rival
anyone in the 2022 NBA Draft class:
I don’t think Jaden Ivey is a finished product, as he has room
for improvement with his ball skills, feel for the game and
consistency with his outside shooting. However, it’s more than
arguable that he possesses as much star potential as any other
prospect in this year’s draft, if not more. Ivey’s athleticism,
explosiveness and ability to get to the rim with the ball in his
hands and raise above have drawn comparisons to star players like a
young Russell Westbrook and Ja Morant.
More similarly, Morant and Ivey made leaps from All-Freshman (or
All-Newcomer, in Morant’s case) in their first college go-round to
being Consensus All-Americans in their second years.
For the Knicks, here’s why and how you do it, beginning with the
Most mock drafts have had Ivey going No. 4 in recent weeks,
own at BasketballNews.com. The thinking is that the top three
will be Jabari Smith, Paolo Banchero and Chet Holmgren in whatever
order, with Ivey following up as the best of the next group. So,
barring surprise — which always can happen — a team
trading for No. 4 should be in a position to snag Ivey.
The Sacramento Kings currently hold No. 4. With De’Aaron Fox
already in place and having just traded for Domantas Sabonis (using
Tyrese Haliburton), they’re probably closer to “win-now” (at least,
in theory). This should make No. 4 available. The current 1-to-3
slots are occupied by the Orlando Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder and
Houston Rockets, all of whom are rebuilding and more likely to keep
their picks by comparison.
The Knicks are currently at No. 11 in this draft lottery, with
an additional selection at No. 42 in Round 2. They also hold their
own first-round pick in every season going forward and most of
their seconds. They also still have a top-10 protected first from
the Dallas Mavericks in 2023. (We’re anticipating that will head to
New York as the last remnants of the Kristaps Porzingis deadline
deal of 2019.)
So it’s very easy for the Knicks to combine another first with
their No. 11 selection to throw at the Kings in hopes of this
hypothetical coming together. If you’re Sacramento, maybe a No. 11
and an unprotected or barely-protected 2024 first-rounder is
enough. If not, the Knicks do still have a collection of young
players to dangle, be it Quentin Grimes, Obi Toppin, Immanuel
Quickley, Cam Reddish or Miles McBride, or a combination of these
names. No. 11 and Quickley doesn’t actually sound nuts as a
(Additionally, Knick fans, I know you’d probably like it to be
No. 11 and Julius Randle, but I question whether a Sabonis-Randle
pairing fits. However, I get the idea — you don’t think the Kings
aren’t above trying it out either, and I respect that.)
The last time a top-four pick was traded was in 2019 when
De'Andre Hunter, picked No. 4 overall, was part of the three-team
Anthony Davis deal, which sent Hunter from the Los Angeles Lakers
to the Atlanta Hawks. The year before, the Hawks moved from No. 3
to No. 5, additionally acquiring another first in the famous Luka
Dončić-Trae Young swap that also landed Reddish in the ATL.
If you’re the Knicks, why do you do it? Simple — continuing to
rebuild on the fly is the way to go.
And overnight, Ivey gives the Knicks their best point guard
since Raymond Felton. If you fancy him as a combo guard, he’d be
their most dynamic backcourt player since... damn, is it
Stephon Marbury? That far back?
Babcock shared his thoughts on Ivey's fit on the Knicks if they
were to try it:
Regarding his potential fit with the Knicks, I think it makes a
lot of sense. The Knicks have some young budding players who have
shown promise. However, they need more star power, and Jaden Ivey
just might be that star in the making that the Knicks need to get
over the hump.
Just keep the rebuild going and continue to get better. More
importantly, think of the excitement guys like Ivey, Barrett and
Toppin could generate?
I’d name other guys on the roster, but you know 85% of the
league is TBD right now.
Most of all, listen to Matt if you won’t listen to me!
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