The New York Knicks made the first trade of the 2022 NBA draft on Thursday night, but they were actively working to make moves before the event even began.
On the latest episode of The Hoop Collective (starts at the 20:30 mark), ESPN's Brian Windhorst noted the Knicks "were interested in trading back" if they couldn't trade up for "the entire day" leading up to the draft.
General manager Scott Perry eventually made a big splash during the draft with a three-team trade involving the Oklahoma City Thunder and Detroit Pistons.
Per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Knicks traded the draft rights to No. 11 overall pick Ousmane Dieng to the Thunder for three future conditional first-round picks from the Denver Nuggets, Washington Wizards and Pistons.
The Knicks flipped the Nuggets' first-round pick and four second-round picks to the Charlotte Hornets for the draft rights to No. 13 overall pick Jalen Duren. Duren and Kemba Walker were then sent to Detroit for a conditional 2025 first-round pick from the Milwaukee Bucks.
Windhorst noted the Knicks attempted to trade up for Jaden Ivey, but the Pistons ultimately decided to hold onto the Purdue guard they selected with the No. 5 pick.
New York ultimately came out of the trades with three future first-round picks and an additional $18 million in cap space.
Per Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, rival executives around the NBA believe the Knicks' moves during the draft are an indication they are "all in" on their attempt to sign Jalen Brunson away from the Dallas Mavericks.
There have been rumblings for weeks that New York was going to make a serious play for Brunson, as the team hired his father, Rick, to be an assistant on Tom Thibodeau's coaching staff earlier this month.
It's been assumed that Brunson would re-sign with the Mavs, and B/R's Jake Fischer reported in May that a "growing sense" from people around the NBA was the 25-year-old would stay in Dallas on an extension projected to be worth between $20-25 million per season.
The Knicks could also be positioning themselves to make a run at Kyrie Irving. Wojnarowski reported Thursday that the seven-time All-Star gave the Brooklyn Nets a list of teams he would consider in a sign-and-trade, including New York, if he can't work out a deal to remain in Brooklyn.
None of the teams on Irving's preference list have enough cap space to sign him outright, so a trade would have to be worked out with the Nets if he wants to be moved.
If nothing else, the Knicks are at least trying to position themselves to be a major player this offseason. They had a disappointing 37-45 record last season after making the playoffs as the No. 4 seed in 2020-21.