The New York Knicks are in an odd place with the No. 4 overall draft pick. The team clearly wanted a top two pick and now Phil Jackson is left to decide whether or not to keep the pick and draft a rookie or try and trade it for someone else. With a defender in mind, the Knicks could get quality at the No. 4 spot, but if they opt to trade who will become a priority in free agency?
According to Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com, the Knicks are very open to keeping the pick with a few players in mind. Jackson told Knicks' season-ticket holders that he likes the idea of drafting a defender with Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor as the best options. Both of those players will not be around at No. 4 leaving the Knicks to decide on a backup plan. Point guard D'Angelo Russell is expected to be taken third leaving the Knicks to decide if players like Emmanuel Mudiay or Willie Cauley-Stein are worth the pick.
The Knicks want defense and according to ESPN Insider Fran Fraschilla, Mudiay can give that that option as a solid two-way point guard as his size and strength make him a good board man. However, his perimeter shooting leaves a lot to be desired. "There's no reason he should not become a very good defender because he's got positional size, speed, quickness and strength," Fraschilla said, via ESPN.com. "It's just now a matter of 'want to' with him. My dealing with him is he's a high-character kid."
According to general manager Steve Mills, the Knicks are flexible with their options. The team is expected to have around $40 million in available salary cap space to work with which means they could trade the pick and get quality veterans in the mix instead of rookies. The New York Post believes that regardless of the draft, players like Greg Monroe, Marc Gasol and potentially DeAndre Jordan will still be priorities for the team. The Knicks need defensive help under the rim and while Andrea Bargnani stepped up at the end of the regular season, they need more.
"I think we're going to be open to a lot of things," said Mills. "We know we can get a good player at this pick. We're also going to be open to talking to teams and looking at different options."
If the Knicks do trade the pick, it will be interesting to see what they try and acquire with it. According to SiriusXM NBA Radio, DeMarcus Cousins is not available for deals. Kevin Love, Rajon Rondo and Goran Dragic do not require trades. Unless the Knicks plan on trying to get Kevin Durant with that top pick, they could simply end up keeping it.