Disgruntled Knick fans cheered everywhere as the Los Angeles Lakers were drawn as the fourth overall selection in the 2019 NBA Draft Lottery Tuesday night. It seemed to be destiny that super-prospect Zion Williamson would grace the orange and blue on the Madison Square Garden floor.
Mere seconds later, a mixture of absolute devastation, utter disbelief and irony set in, as the Knicks were announced as the third overall pick. The future seemed to be so bright with Zion in Manhattan, but now with R.J. Barrett appearing to be the best-case scenario, Knick fans are shaking their heads.
Meanwhile, the rest of the basketball world is laughing uncontrollably while watching the future hopes of this garbage heap of a franchise melt away. Zion was sure to be the answer. Now, he’s out of the question.
However, all is not lost for the Knicks just yet. They may still have the opportunity to bring in a relatively young talent who has proven himself as a bona-fide superstar. And now that this team has secured Zion Williamson with the top overall pick, they can select his college teammate in R.J. Barrett third overall and build an intriguing young core around them.
That bona-fide talent would be Anthony Davis, who continues to plead for a trade out of New Orleans, and the Knicks happen to hold that third pick. A trade involving those two assets could solve problems for both teams.
David Griffin remains adamant that Anthony Davis is not beyond convincing to remain in NOLA, though that optimism will fade when he realizes that Zion won’t change his mind; he wants out at all costs.
The Knicks would likely have to cough up more than the third pick, though any other piece would be reasonable. As long as this other piece is not Dennis Smith Jr., Kevin Knox or Mitchell Robinson, there shouldn’t be a problem.
With considerable cap space expected to lure a marquee free agent or two, losing draft compensation, no matter how valuable, for a proven star like Davis is well worth the price. AD could certainly help pitch free agents to come play in the Big Apple, especially with the deep pockets they possess.
For New Orleans, the tantalizing idea of a Davis-Williamson tandem can’t happen for more than a season if Davis walks. The Pelicans would be foolish to hold him through the trade deadline and lose him for nothing, hoping that he’d reconsider balling in the Bayou.
The Knicks have the big need for a superstar, they have the money to sign him long-term and Davis has said he’d seriously consider committing to a deal that would keep him in basketball’s mecca beyond next season, a key component for any team attempting to acquire him.
While the Lakers may have themselves a solid pitch centered around the #4 selection, the Knicks can promise the Pelicans Zion’s college teammate in Barrett. The Lakers don’t have that same luxury. Memphis has all but declared Ja Morant as their choice after Zion goes.
New Orleans wants to receive a king’s ransom for a talent like Davis but with his status appearing to be that of a one-year rental, unless he is dealt somewhere he’d agree to re-sign, the value they desire is unlikely to come their way.
What they will need to understand sooner-rather-than-later is that the trade value they can recoup for Davis declines every day. The Knicks and Pelicans can work out a deal, if David Griffin sets his sights on the future of their draft picks rather than trying to retain a player due for an enormous pay raise. New York, however, can deal with such a paycheck. They’d be thrilled to have the opportunity to cut Davis a check too, as he’d easily be the best player to put on a Knicks uniform in the last decade, if not longer.