BY LESLIE MONTEIRO
(Photo credit: Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
The Knicks basically did nothing in Thursday night’s NBA Draft.
They failed to move up in the draft, which would have increased their chances to get Purdue stud guard Jaden Ivey, who the Detroit Pistons drafted with the No. 5 overall pick. They settled for drafting Ousmane Dieng with the No. 11 overall pick, and they promptly traded him to the Oklahoma City Thunder for three future conditional first-round picks from the Denver Nuggets, Washington Wizards and Detroit Pistons. They traded the Nuggets first-rounder they received from the Thunder along with four second-round picks to the Charlotte Hornets for the draft rights of Jalen Duren. Then, the Knicks traded Duren and Kemba Walker to the Detroit Pistons for a 2025 conditional Milwaukee Bucks first-round pick.
Be happy for Walker that he is out of this clown show, and be happy for Dieng and Duren that they never got to be part of it. Be happy for Ivey that he never got to see his career ruined by the Knicks despite wanting to play for them.
Condolences to Duke guard Trevor Keels, who the Knicks drafted with the No. 42 overall pick. He likely won’t get a chance to play a game for them this year or beyond. He will likely be developing his talent in the G-League at Westchester. At least, you can be happy for him about that.
It would have been nice for Knicks president of basketball operations Leon Rose to comment about his thought process, but he did not. He decided it was beneath him to talk to the media that serves as a conduit for the Knicks fans, who would like to hear from him. He never speaks to the media at all. The last time we heard from him was when he answered questions from Knicks play-by-play announcer Mike Breen in an in-house interview on MSG Network in the last game of the season.
Rose can keep ducking forever, but sooner or later, he better come up with a power move or he won’t have any credibility with the Knicks fans.
Let’s face it – it was hard to think the Knicks would do anything in this draft. It was going to be hard to move up in the draft no matter how many draft picks Rose accumulated to trade up. Ivey is such a transcending player for teams to pass up. Rose and his staff had to know that beforehand.
It was pointless to think the Knicks would draft anyone from Kentucky since Tom Thibodeau is coaching for his job this coming season. He is prioritizing winning over player development. It was also clear management think less of Thibodeau’s ability to develop players by giving the Knicks’ lottery pick away.
Plus, what young talent have Rose and William Wesley brought here since they took over the basketball operations? Sure Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin have done some good things, but they haven’t elevated the franchise to say those guys serve as a plus for the Knicks front office.
Knicks fans anointed Quickley and Toppin because they are desperate to find something to be positive about this organization. In this case, perception is not reality. It just could be those two are serviceable players and nothing more, and that’s okay. Knicks fans should not make something out of someone that they are not. They need to be realistic.
Rose better do something this offseason besides just getting rid of Julius Randle as an addition by subtraction. He needs to get a star to build around. He has to find a way to acquire either Donovan Mitchell or Karl Anthony-Towns. If he doesn’t, there’s no reason to watch the Knicks next season.
Sure, they can make the playoffs with this roster, but this is about getting past the first round. The Knicks made the playoffs two years ago, and we proudly said they were back because we were desperate to think this sorry franchise is on to good things. In reality, they are a mediocre team at their high ceiling.
This is not enough, and this should not be enough. It’s been 49 years since this franchise won a championship. It’s time to make it happen. The bar is so low that getting past the first round would mean a seminal moment for James Dolan’s woebegone NBA franchise.
For that to happen, they need to get a star who can elevate this franchise. It’s certainly not going to be from within, and please don’t make me laugh about RJ Barrett being that guy. It’s going to have to be from outside the organization. It means getting a disgruntled player from his situation with his team.
And no, the Knicks shouldn’t think about trying to sign Kyrie Irving. He doesn’t like basketball, and he plays when he wants to. He’s also a loser, so this would be a waste of time. He hasn’t elevated the Nets, so there’s no way he would elevate the Knicks.
Apparently, the Knicks are all-in on Jalen Brunson. They feel he is their next Walt Frazier. Never mind the Dallas Mavericks point guard is in a better situation playing with one of the top five players in the league in Luka Doncic. It’s hard to believe he would leave the Mavericks for this sorry franchise, even if his father will likely be Thibodeau’s assistant next season.
Rose knows he has to hit a home run this offseason. He has been here for two seasons. It hasn’t really been a success. Dolan hired him since he had the connections to be a dealmaker in getting a star here. This is a critical juncture for this basketball administration and this franchise.
It won’t be easy, but Rose is being paid well to get it done.
If he can’t, well then he joins Isiah Thomas, Donnie Walsh, Glen Grunwald, Phil Jackson and Steve Mills as guys who have stolen money from Dolan and not have this once-proud franchise in a better place.
This writer can be reached on Twitter at: @LeslieMonteiro6
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