Analyst Floats Blockbuster Deal Netting Knicks the No. 1 Overall Pick

RJ Barrett Knicks

Getty New York Knicks wing RJ Barrett handles the ball during a bout with the Washington Wizards.

There’s no doubting that the New York Knicks are entering a pivotal offseason for the future of the franchise. Although the team showed signs of life down the stretch of the 2021-22 campaign, it still fell well short of expectations. And major questions loom regarding the point guard spot, Julius Randle’s unexpected devolution, RJ Barrett’s progress as a former No. 3 overall pick and Mitchell Robinson’s impending free agency, to name a few.

Management is believed to have big aspirations where getting a new lead guard is concerned, targeting the likes of Donovan Mitchell and Jalen Brunson. Landing either of those players would be a real difference-maker for the club but, even then, the Knicks need more help to secure their future.

Getting the No. 1 overall pick in Tuesday’s NBA Draft Lottery would be a game-changer, to be sure. However, New York has just the 11th-best odds — or a 2% chance — of winning the lottery.

That said, one hoops scribe just floated a Knicks trade netting the top selection in the event that the Sacramento Kings — who have a 7.5% chance of getting the pick — take the day.

The Knicks-Kings Deal

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Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes did his best to identify a trade for each of the teams in the lottery to consider should they draw the No. 1 overall pick. If the Kings end up being the lucky club, he’s pitching the following move:

  • Sacramento Kings receive: F RJ Barrett, G Immanuel Quickley, a 2022 first-round pick and a top-14 protected first-round pick in 2024
  • New York Knicks receive: G Davion Mitchell, C Richaun Holmes, this year’s No. 1 overall pick

Obviously, for the Knicks to consider such a trade, team president Leon Rose and his brain trust would have to be convinced that whoever they’d be taking at No. 1 has more upside as a potential cornerstone than Barrett. Is Chet Holmgren that guy? How about a Jaden Ivey, a Paolo Banchero and/or a Jabari Smith?

While those players may be on their own talent tier ahead of the rest of the draft pack, asking any of them to be a 20-6-3 guy by year three with room left to grow (as is the case with Barrett) could be asking too much. Clearly, though, the potential is there.

Of course, losing Quickley — who was the Knicks’ best player over the last quarter-plus of ’21-22 — may hurt as much as losing Barrett. That said, the other Mitchell, who averaged 11.5 points, 4.2 assists and 2.2 rebounds as a rookie, would likely ease some of that pain. And Holmes could step into Robinson’s old spot while bringing a more diverse offensive skill set to the table and, potentially, saving a million or two dollars in salary.

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But Why Would the Kings Do It?

Just to be clear, Hughes doesn’t really believe that the Kings should trade the No. 1 pick. That doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t consider it, though. In other words, Kangz gon’ Kang.

“The Sacramento Kings are notoriously impatient, scrapping one quick-fix pursuit of instant gratification for another at warp speed,” Hughes wrote. “It’s how they’ve amassed the league’s longest playoff drought, and it’s why trading the No. 1 pick for more immediate help wouldn’t exactly be a far-fetched move. A bad one, sure. But not off-brand.”

He added: “Barrett and [Immanuel] Quickley would give Sacramento a formidable wing combo alongside [De’Aaron] Fox and [Domantas] Sabonis, with the ever-steady Harrison Barnes rounding out the first unit.”


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