Draft Day Trade Proposal Lands Knicks 17th Pick, New Starting Center

Jaren Jackson Jr.

Getty Jaren Jackson Jr. brings the ball up the floor during a May 6 game against the Detroit Pistons.

With two first-round picks in the 2021 NBA Draft, Leon Rose and the New York Knicks front office have several different ways they can approach draft night later this month, including trading up.

As Marc Berman of the New York Post reported last month, they’re interested in finding their way into the top-14:

They have two first-round picks (19 and 21) and two second-rounders (32, 58). Chief strategist Brock Aller will look to deal picks and money to move into the lottery, according to sources.

A number of teams are reportedly interested in trading down, largely those in the middle tier of the first-round, at the end of the lottery, and late teens.

The Indiana Pacers, Memphis Grizzlies, and New Orleans Pelicans are all teams that have been reported at one point in time to have an interest in trading down.

Do any of those three teams make sense as a trade partner for New York? Would the Knicks be willing to give up the assets they’d require to make a deal?

We covered a potential trade up to the 10th pick with the New Orleans Pelicans already, here.

But it’s possible that the Memphis Grizzlies make even more sense as a potential draft-day trade partner for New York.

Trade Proposal

It’s not unlikely that one of the top prospects on the New York Knicks’ big board could slip out of the lottery.

And if Leon Rose and company fail to deal their way into the top-14, they’ll certainly pounce in that scenario.

Cue the Memphis Grizzlies, who as one of the youngest teams in the league, equipped with nine first-round picks over the next seven years, could emerge as a candidate to trade down from 17th overall.

If they do, a trade between the two teams could look something like this:

  • Memphis Grizzlies receive the 19th overall pick, 32nd overall pick, and Mitchell Robinson.
  • New York Knicks receive Jaren Jackson Jr. and the 17th overall pick.

As has been reported by Marc Berman of the New York Post, there’s already been speculation of a potential Knicks trade for Jaren Jackson Jr:

Jackson, who threw down a vicious dunk and made two 3-pointers in front of Knicks senior vice president William Wesley during the Knicks’ 118-104 win in Memphis on May 3, will enter the final $9.1 million year of his four-year contract next season. If he doesn’t sign an extension this fall, his future bears watching.

Jackson’s father was hired this season to be an assistant coach for New York’s G-League affiliate, the Westchester Knicks.

The former fourth overall pick was slated to be young point guard Ja Morant’s running mate for years to come in Memphis.

It’s possible that an injury the caliber of his meniscus tear has derailed past plans.

Regardless, if healthy, Jackson Jr. represents an upgrade over Mitchell Robinson in a lot of ways. Primarily on offense where he’d provide a desperately needed floor-spacing element in the starting five.

The Grizzlies’ big man shot just 28 percent from three over his 11 appearances this season but was a knockdown shooter prior to his injury. Jackson Jr. posted a 39% three-point average in 57 games last year.

New York’s inability to hit three-point shots consistently was a big factor in their first-round loss to the Atlanta Hawks this postseason.

Trust that it’s something they’ll address in all of the draft, free agency, and offseason trade market.

Targets for the 17th Overall Pick

None of the latest mock drafts would help to indicate who the New York Knicks could be interested in, outside of 19th and 21st.

But they should still properly reflect a good idea of who will be available in the range of the 17th overall pick.

In his latest mock draft for ESPN, draft analyst Jonathan Givony has Real Madrid’s Usman Garuba going 17th, but more importantly, a Knicks fan favorite in Moses Moody going right behind him at 18th.

The 19-year old wing is coming off of a stellar freshman season at Arkansas where he averaged 16.8, 5.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and a steal per game.

For The Ringer, Kevin O’Connor has Ziaire Williams going 17th overall. The 19-year old wing out of Stanford isn’t viewed as anywhere near his ceiling and would represent an upside pick for New York.

Either of these prospects would make good fits on the Knicks, but trading up could also be less about who’s there at 17th overall, and who they’d miss out on at 19th overall, potentially going just before them in the late teens.

Sharife Cooper could go before the Knicks get on the clock, and they were front and center for the guard’s presentation days at the NBA combine in Chicago.

And in this scenario, they’d still have pick 21 to compliment other roster needs.

Something to keep an eye on with less than a month until the draft.

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