New York Knicks: 6 Reasons Knicks Must Acquire a 1st-Round Pick This June
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While eight NBA teams continue their quest for the NBA title, 22 others are already thinking about next year.
The New York Knicks are one of those teams.
When teams think about next year, one primary concern is the NBA draft.
There are three ways for teams to make changes to their rosters: trades, free agency and the draft.
The NBA draft in June is a great chance for New York to improve their team. The one problem is that the Knicks don't have a first-round pick.
They need to go out and get one, here's why.
This Draft Is Deep
Syracuse center Fab Melo may last into the late first round.
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This year's draft is one of the deepest in memory. Teams picking late into the first round stand decent chances of plucking quality NBA players. The Knicks need to figure out a way to get into that mix. They don't need to pick in the top five. Even a pick in the late teens or early 20s could bring them an impact player next season.
Take Fab Melo of Syracuse. Regardless of whether or not you think Melo is a future NBA star, starter, backup or bust, the mere fact that a seven-foot tall center from a top program is being projected to fall into the later parts of the first round is indicative of this draft's depth.
Melo is just one such player. Quincy Miller or Andrew Nicholson might be around for a team picking in the low 20s.
If ever there were a year to figure out a way to get a first-round pick, even one from the late part of the round, this is it.
Top pick Anthony Davis will make less than many mid-level free agents next season.
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The NBA has a rookie salary scale that makes rookies pretty affordable. That's important for all teams, but it's critically important for a team like the Knicks that is staring a maxed out payroll in the face.
As of now the Knicks have about $53 million already committed for next season to pay for Amar'e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Toney Douglas.
That means the team has very little money to spend on free agents of consequence this summer. The Knicks could be forced to use their mid-level salary exception on Jeremy Lin, leaving little financial flexibility for the team to be active in free agency.
Anthony Davis is going to be the No. 1 overall pick and is likely to be an instant impact player defensively. He won't get paid as much as Lin next season, but he will get paid more than any other rookie.
Acquiring a first-round pick is one of the best ways to add talent while controlling costs.
Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will both be 19-year-old rookies.
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Carmelo Anthony is 27, Amar'e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler are both 29, Steve Novak is 28. Even last year's first-round pick, Iman Shumpert, is 21, and he's going to miss a good portion of next season recovering from surgery on his torn ACL.
When you get a first-round NBA draft pick these days, it's highly likely that you're going to end up drafting an underclassman. Those players are usually 19 or 20 years old.
The Knicks just concluded their 2011-2012 season and already they have legitimate injury concerns for next year—Chandler's knees, Stoudemire's back, Shumpert's knee.
The Knicks could use some healthy young legs, and the first round of the draft is a great place to find them.
Landry Fields just concluded two very low-cost seasons in a Knicks uniform.
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Rookie contracts are not just inexpensive, they're also structured in a manner that is quite friendly to the teams that draft them.
A first-round pick gets two guaranteed years, followed by two team option years. All four years are fairly low cost when compared to what a big-ticket free agent will run a team.
A late-first-round pick will make far less in four seasons than Carmelo Anthony will make in one year. The controlled costs and stability give a team added flexibility not just this coming season, but in the seasons beyond as well.
Iman Shumpert was a pleasant surprise for the Knicks this past season.
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What the Knicks have done with their draft picks once they've arrived in the league can be legitimately questioned. The team's selections in the last five NBA drafts have been impressive.
Consider this list of picks:
2007 draft, first round, 23rd selection: Wilson Chandler
2008 draft, first round, sixth selection: Danilo Gallinari
2009 draft, first round, eighth selection: Jordan Hill
2010 draft, second round, 38th selection: Andy Rautins
2010 draft, second round, 39th selection: Landry Fields
2011 draft, first round, 17th selecion: Iman Shumpert.
There are two skilled NBA starters on that list in Chandler and Gallinari. Shumpert seems likely to start if he recovers from his knee injury. Jordan Hill took some time, but he's playing quite well off the bench in Los Angeles, and Landry Fields hasn't been great, but he was also a mid-second-round pick. Expectations should never have been too high in the first place.
Only Andy Rautins, another second-round pick, has been a real disappointment. That type of track record and a deep pool of talent would seem logical to suggest that if the Knicks can get a first-round pick they'll get a decent player out of it.
Rajon Rondo and the Celtics are slated to have two first-round picks in this year's draft.
Currently, the New York Knicks have one pick in this June's draft—the No. 48 pick overall, deep in the second round. What about the team's two biggest divisional rivals?
The Philadelphia 76ers have the 15th overall pick in the first round and then two second-round picks.
A little farther up north, the Boston Celtics have two first-round picks, No. 21 and 22. The team also has a second-round pick.
That means that the two teams that the Knicks are already chasing in their division will be in a position to put more distance between themselves and the Knicks
Unless New York can get a first-round pick, of course.
New Blood Is Needed on the Roster
Are Amar'e Stoudemire's best seasons behind him?
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The Knicks have some serious roster problems. They're locked into a few big-ticket players, and the team's capacity to bring in new players is limited.
The Knicks could use some new young players. The draft is the best way to get those players, and the first round is really the ideal place to grab them.
How the Knicks go about acquiring the first-round pick is the real question. No one is going to hand them anything out of sympathy.
It's going to take a bit of wheeling and dealing.
If the Knicks were to pursue this path, it would likely involve trading a player that fans value. It might even involve a sign-and-trade deal with Jeremy Lin. New York would probably love to deal Amar'e Stoudemire. That's not likely to happen given his injury history and contract.
The Knicks team that takes the floor for the first game of the 2012-2013 season will not look at all like the one that left the floor following Game 5 of their first-round loss to the Heat.That's a fact.
Baron Davis and Iman Shumpert are both in recovery from serious knee injuries. Steve Novak is a free agent. J.R. Smith is also a player whose future is on the team is in question.
There are a lot of question marks for the Knicks heading into next season. Bringing in a young rookie would add to the long list of questions. It would do so with a low-cost, high-return potential. That's a far cry from the predicament they currently face with a team stocked with high priced players performing at or even below the levels of expectations set forth by the contracts they are signed to.
A first-round pick would be a step in a different direction, and hopefully for the team and their loyal fan base, a step in the right direction as well.