If the rumor mill is to be trusted, we know two things about the New York Knicks heading into Thursday night's NBA draft: They are considering packaging the Nos. 19 and 21 picks to move up, and they have eyes for Oregon wing Chris Duarte.
NBA draft writer Chad Ford was the latest to report the Knicks' interest in the 24-year-old:
But he's hardly alone in reporting that the Knicks might be movers and shakers in the draft. The Athletic's Zach Harper reported Tuesday that it’s "still widely believed around the league they're trying to move up into the late lottery by packaging both picks."
The Athletic's John Hollinger noted there is "constant chatter" about the Knicks packaging Nos. 19 and 21 to move up the board. B/R's Jake Fischer said there were "whispers" of the Knicks' desire to move into the lottery.
And the New York Post's Marc Berman reported that the Knicks "have already offered the Warriors the 19th and 21st picks to move up to the 14th, but they reportedly have been turned down."
Berman also reported New York has had talks about trading up for the Indiana Pacers' 13th overall pick, though it is believed the Pacers would reject the Knicks' offer if Davion Mitchell—who Berman noted is also a Knicks target—is still on the board.
He added that Duarte is "a strong candidate to be selected by the Knicks with their first of two first-round picks, No. 19 overall, if he falls that far."
So, unless the Knicks are engaged in a very elaborate smoke screen, it would appear they really want Duarte and are willing to move up to get him.
The 6'6" wing has the ability to become a coveted three-and-D player in the NBA after hitting 42.4 percent of his shots from beyond the arc last season. If he can continue to improve his distribution, he could become a nice secondary playmaker off the wing as well.
It's a skill set that every NBA team would be happy to add to its roster. And Duarte is ready to contribute immediately for a playoff team, or at least he thinks so.
"I'm 24 years old. If you want to win right now, go ahead and take me," he told reporters. "If you want to win in six, eight years later, go ahead and take the 18-year-old kid and develop him. Because it's going to take time."
The Knicks, fresh off of ending a seven-year playoff drought in 2020-21, are ready to compete now. There will be players with more upside on the board when Duarte is taken. But if the goal in New York is to build a title contender this offseason, be it through trades, free agency or both, then Duarte makes sense.