Knicks' Leon Rose Explains Decision to Trade Away 1st Round Picks in 2022 NBA Draft

Adam WellsJune 24, 2022

Former player agent and new New York Knicks president Leon Rose, center, takes a phone call during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets in New York, Monday, March 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Amid a series of trades during the 2022 NBA draft on Thursday, New York Knicks president Leon Rose explained the team's approach to the first round.

In a statement released on Friday, Rose noted the trades give the Knicks "increased financial flexibility and additional draft capital moving forward" with a total of 11 first-round picks over the next seven years.

Ian Begley @IanBegley

Statement from NYK president Leon Rose: <a href="https://t.co/98mCc6eN82">pic.twitter.com/98mCc6eN82</a>

Despite not leaving the draft with any players, no team was more active during the event than the Knicks.

Rose and general manager Scott Perry made multiple deals, starting with sending the draft rights to No. 11 overall pick Ousmane Dieng to the Oklahoma City Thunder. They also traded Kemba Walker to the Thunder in a three-team deal that included the Detroit Pistons.

When all the dust settled, the Knicks came out of the draft with three future first-round picks and $18 million in cap space.

Tim Bontemps @TimBontemps

What the Knicks did tonight:<br><br>NYK trades 11th pick to OKC<br><br>OKC trades 3 firsts (23 DEN, DET, WASH) to NYK<br><br>NYK then trades 23 DEN, 4 seconds to CHA for 13th pick<br><br>NYK then trade 13th pick &amp; Kemba Walker to DET for MKE's 25 first <br><br>NYK trades 11, Kemba, 4 2nds &amp; gets 3 future 1sts

Bobby Marks @BobbyMarks42

The trade to Detroit now has New York with $104M in guaranteed salary.<br><br>The salary cap projects to come in at $122M.

As ESPN's Tim Bontemps noted in the wake of Friday's statement, Rose mentioning the "increased financial flexibility" above everything else should erase "any doubt about what the Knicks were going for last night."

It remains to be seen how the Knicks will use their new cap flexibility. Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.com noted rival executives believe they are "all in" on signing Jalen Brunson in free agency.

The expectation has been that Brunson will re-sign with the Dallas Mavericks on a deal worth $20-25 million annually, but New York's moves could at least make the 25-year-old consider other options.

Last season was a huge disappointment for the Knicks. They had high hopes after going 41-31 and making the playoffs as a No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Injuries and regression by key players dropped the Knicks to 11th in the Eastern Conference with a 37-45 mark in 2021-22. They haven't made the playoffs in consecutive seasons since 2011-13.