Can the Knicks trade into the 2023 NBA Draft

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Can the Knicks trade into the NBA Draft?
People look at the draft lottery order during the NBA basketball draft lottery in Chicago, Tuesday, May 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

With the Dallas Mavericks getting the 10th pick in last night’s NBA Draft lottery, the New York Knicks currently do not have a pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. 

The Knicks traded their own first-round pick to Portland as part of the Josh Hart trade but could have gotten the Mavericks’ pick if it fell outside of the top 10. The pick, which is the final part of the Kristaps Porzingis deal was top 10 protected this year, and since Dallas was awarded the 10th pick, they will keep the pick for this year and possibly send it to the Knicks next year, provided they don’t pick inside the top 10 again. 

So does this mean New York will sit out the NBA Draft again?

Last year, the Knicks had the 11th pick in the draft but traded it to Oklahoma City for three protected 2023 first-round picks from Detroit, Denver, and Washington, respectively. The Knicks then briefly held the 13th pick but traded it, and Kemba Walker, to Detroit.

At the end of the day, New York received the Pistons’ and Wizards’ 2023 first-round picks which did not convey this year since they were protected through the 18th pick and 14th pick, respectively, and a top-four protected pick from Milwaukee in 2025.

So, the Knicks remain flush with picks in upcoming drafts but will not currently participate in this year’s festivities. With the team taking a huge step forward this year and announcing itself as a contender, it’s unlikely for the organization to sit on its hands during the draft again.

Below are three ways we could see the Knicks enter the draft this year.


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Option #1: Buy a Second Round Pick

This is the easiest option as teams trade second-round picks for money pretty much every draft. The Knicks could also swap one of their future second-round picks for one in this year’s draft, but this route doesn’t really help the Knicks much. 

Yes, they’ve had success with second-round picks in the past, like Mitchell Robinson and Jericho Sims, but this is a playoff contender and a second-round rookie is not going to crack the rotation. 


Option #2: Trade a Future First Round Pick

Another simple swap would be for the Knicks to trade a future first-round pick to a team like Utah or Indiana, who have three picks in this year’s first round. The Knicks could try to get the 16th pick from Utah or maybe the 26th pick from Indiana and draft a shooter or a 3-and-D bench wing to help the floor spacing in their rotation.

Obi Toppin Knicks
New York Knicks’ Obi Toppin (1) shoots over Cleveland Cavaliers’ Donovan Mitchell (45) during the second half of Game 3 in an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Friday, April 21, 2023, in New York. The Knicks won 99-79. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Option #3: Trade Obi Toppin to Move into the First Round

To me, this is the most likely option. Toppin is buried in his version of the Knicks with Julius Randle in town. If the Knicks don’t want to extend Toppin then this is the time to trade him.

Toppin alone might be enough for the Knicks to move into the end of the first round, but if they include him and a future first-round pick or a second-round pick, they might be able to inch up the NBA Draft order

If I had to guess, this is the route the Knicks appear most likely to go. 


Option #4: Trade Julius Randle and Picks for a First Round Pick

This is the big swing option and the least likely option, but we can at least mention it. There are teams like the Portland Trail Blazers who are picking high in the draft but are also trying to compete now and could be open to swapping picks for an established veteran like Randle. 

After this season, Damian Lillard said, “I don’t have much of an appetite for bringing in guys two and three years away from really going after it…I’m just not interested in [drafting young players]. And this is not a secret. I want a chance to go for it. And if the route is to [draft young players], then that’s probably not my route.”

If Portland wants to keep Lillard then they need to add veterans and not youth. Would they be open to taking Randle and future picks or maybe Randle and Quentin Grimes and picks for the number three pick?

The Houston Rockets are also “ready to move past their rebuild” and have two first-round picks. Would they be open to trading the 4th pick for the same packages mentioned above?

The Knicks don’t want to move on from Randle and take a huge step backward, but getting a pick in the top part of the draft for him would allow the Knicks to insert an elite young player into the rotation and, possibly, give Toppin a chance to prove he can be the team’s power forward.

For example, if the Knicks were to make a deal with Portland, even one that included Randle and Grimes, they could start a lineup of Jalen Brunson, Brandon Miller (rookie), RJ Barrett, Toppin, and Robinson. The matchups and athleticism there could be intriguing and the team would have a core that is all 25 years old and younger. Plus, they’d have freed up the money to extend Quickley and, potentially, Toppin. 

Again, this is the longest-shot option but certainly one to keep an eye on as we get closer to the NBA Draft. 

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Knicks forward Julius Randle drives to the basket against Charlotte Hornets forward P.J. Washington.
Knicks forward Julius Randle drives to the basket against Charlotte Hornets forward P.J. Washington.Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports