Even though Leon Rose made deal after deal throughout a bonkers night of trades, the Knicks came away with just one player from the 2022 NBA Draft, and couldn’t land Jaden Ivey.
While other aspects of this New York Knicks regime have been disappointing, drafting is one thing they have managed exceptionally well—so far. The Knicks’ last three drafts have produced solid contributors or players who have shown promise, including RJ Barrett, Obi Toppin, Immanuel Quickley, and Quentin Grimes. The 2022 NBA Draft felt much different.
It was a night of absolute chaos for the Knicks and across social media. New York’s front office sent the fanbase into a frenzy with a series of confusing moves it’s still trying to figure out and digest. New York began the NBA draft with two picks, nos. 11 and 42, and much speculation about what they would do. New York tried on multiple occasions to land their top target, Purdue guard Jaden Ivey. Even after being selected fifth overall by the Detriot Pistons, it was reported that New York was still heavily involved in conversations to entice the Pistons into a trade for the lottery pick. They even acquired and handed over Memphis center Jalen Duren, who Detroit reportedly loved, to no avail. Ultimately, Detroit decided to keep their man.
New York made two big moves in the first round. First, they selected French forward Ousmane Dieng with the 11th pick in the draft, then immediately traded him to the Oklahoma City Thunder for three future protected first-round picks. This caused additional chaos because OKC controlled the next pick in the draft, which they did not send to New York. Instead, they selected Santa Clara’s Jalen Williams. Per Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer the Knicks’ haul is:
Knicks get from OKC, per source:
2023 first rounder from DET that's 1-18 protected through 2024, 1-13 in '25, 1-11 in '26, 1-9 in 2027.
2023 first from WAS that's 1-14, 1-12 in 2024, 1-10 in '25, 1-8 in 2026.
2023 first from DEN, protected 1-14 through 2025.
— Jake Fischer (@JakeLFischer) June 24, 2022
New York’s first-round dealings did not stop there; they flipped the 2023 Denver pick and four second-rounders to the Charlotte Hornets. In return, they received Memphis Tigers center Jalen Duren, who Charlotte took at 13 and Detroit reportedly coveted. Quickly, the Knicks traded Duren and Kemba Walker to the Pistons for the 2025 Bucks first-round pick that Detroit received from Portland in the Jerami Grant deal.
There was little hope during the confusion that Jaden Ivey could still come to New York, and sadly for Knicks fans, it was indeed a pulseless dream. In the end, the deal turned out to be exactly what looks like: a salary dump for Walker.
All in all, the Knicks would end up trading the 11th pick, Walker, and four second-rounders for back three heavily protected future first-rounders. The Walker deal seemed especially odd because he was already on an expiring and relatively cheap contract. The Knicks could’ve bought Walker out for just $8 million. It’s also hard not to feel like they could have gotten more for Duren, who the Pistons favored.
In what looks like another punt, New York seems to have their sights on acquiring more picks for possible trades down the line. If the Knicks choose to keep their new draft capital through the season, they will go into the 2023 NBA Draft with four first-round picks.
With the 12th pick in the second round (42nd overall), New York drafted Duke guard Trevor Keels. Only 18 years old, the freshman averaged 11.5 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 2.7 assists over 30 minutes per game during his lone college season. He earned a spot on the ACC All-Freshman team and helped Duke reach the Final Four.
At 6’4″ and 224 pounds, Keels has solid size for a 2 guard. He has offensive upside and a frame that will benefit him on both sides of the court. He was Duke’s third-leading scorer and played well off the ball and in transition.
New York has been surrounded by point guard speculation since before the offseason—free agency starts on Thursday, June 30th. The Walker salary dump indicates New York is clearing space for Jalen Brunson, who they’ve been linked to for months now. A new possibility has recently emerged in Kyrie Irving—either through a sign-and-trade deal or if he opts out of the final year of his contract. Irving supposedly named the Knicks as one of his preferred trade destinations, but it still feels like a long shot. Irving has until next Wednesday (the 29th) to opt into his $36 million deal. Other possible uses for this cap space include a trade for Donovan Mitchell or D’Angelo Russell. The Knicks may be able to compile an attractive package for those players with their newly acquired first-round picks.
Many fans were sour on this draft and took to social media throughout the night. The honeymoon for Leon Rose and co. appears to be over. Heading into his third year in charge, Rose seems intent on fixing the mistakes he made during the last offseason by unloading contracts and clearing cap space.