Shams: Knicks Will Try to Trade No. 1 Pick for Anthony Davis If They Win Lottery

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 14, 2019

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - APRIL 09: Anthony Davis #23 of the New Orleans Pelicans reacts before a game against the Golden State Warriors at the Smoothie King Center on April 09, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Should the New York Knicks win the 2019 NBA draft lottery, Zion Williamson may never play a game for the franchise.

Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic reported Tuesday the Knicks would focus on flipping the No. 1 overall pick in a trade package for New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis.

Stadium @Stadium

Our NBA Insider @ShamsCharania with the latest on the Knicks plan if they get the top-pick in tonight's #NBADraftLottery. https://t.co/pcPOQ0CjXM

In almost any other scenario, the opportunity to select Williamson would be too good to pass up. The Knicks, however, don't appear inclined to wait on the Duke Blue Devils star to fulfill his massive potential.

New York made its intentions this summer clear when it traded Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks in January. As a result of the move, the Knicks could have a little over $72.9 million to spend in free agency, which is enough to afford two max-level stars.

Kevin Durant is widely expected to be one of those stars. ESPN's Ian Begley wrote in April, "It's easier to find street parking in Manhattan than it is to find an NBA executive, player or coach who doesn't think Durant is going to sign with the Knicks in July."

Stephen A. Smith spoke with similar conviction Monday on First Take, saying the team was prepared to do anything to sign Durant and Kyrie Irving.

If the Knicks were to acquire Davis, then signing Durant and Irving would prove difficult. Davis will make just under $27.1 million in 2019-20 before he can opt out of his contract and become a free agent.

New York would have to shed more salary in order to accommodate all three players, but do so in a manner that doesn't effectively leave the roster absent of enough depth.

As good as Davis is, one could make a strong case for keeping the top pick instead and opting for Williamson. After a monster freshman season for Duke, he has the potential to be an NBA All-Star.

Just as important for the Knicks, Williamson will be locked into the rookie wage scale for his first four years. According to RealGM, the first three years of his contract total a little over $25.5 million.

Of course, all of this is moot unless the Knicks win the lottery, something they only have a 14 percent chance of achieving.


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