The Knicks are “desperately” seeking a first-round pick in this month’s draft and are attempting to strong-arm their way into the top 30 picks, according to Moke Hamilton of Basketball Insiders (Twitter links). The team is telling agents and prospects of its intentions, Hamilton adds. Knicks team president Phil Jackson has made plain his desire to trade for a pick of some kind, but the team’s apparent plan to workout P.J. Hairston on Thursday was the first strong indication that New York, which is without any picks as it stands now, wants in the first round.
Hairston is No. 23 in the latest rankings from Chad Ford of ESPN.com and No. 24 with Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress, though our Alex Lee has him going at No. 15 in the latest Hoops Rumors Mock Draft. Several teams hold more than one first-round pick, as Hamilton notes, and the Suns are reportedly shopping the 27th overall selection.
The Sixers have seven picks overall and the Bucks, Suns and Timberwolves have four apiece. Jackson cited Philadelphia and Milwaukee as potential trade targets for a pick. Jackson was referring to their second-rounders, so perhaps his sights have shifted. Still, the Knicks, like every NBA team, can only trade a maximum of $3.2MM in cash over the course of the season, so “buying” a pick won’t necessarily be easy, particularly when it comes to first-rounders.
The Knicks are under pressure to make their roster attractive for Carmelo Anthony, who can opt out and leave as a free agent this summer. New York will be capped out regardless of whether Anthony is on the roster, so the draft represents one of the team’s few avenues to an upgrade.