Draft Buzz: ‘Debate’ within Knicks on whether to trade 4th pick


Perhaps no team has more at stake in Thursday night’s NBA Draft than the , whose rebuilding efforts under Phil Jackson finally will begin to take shape.

You don’t need a decorated champion making $12 million a year to tear down a roster; anybody can do that. The real work begins now, when Jackson will take the first step toward replenead of their game against Manchester City.The Clarets were hoping to have the striker available for the weekend clash, but he is likely to be absent due to a knee injury.He is going to be out for at least a few weeks because of the injury he sustaineishing the roster with the No. 4 pick.

Amid reports that the Knicks are open to moving down from No. 4 to pick up a first-rounder in 2016 (when their pick goes to Denver or Toronto), there are rival executives who view that as a dangerous game for Jackson to play. One such executive, who has been in contact with the Knicks, told Monday there is “internal debate” within the Knicks’ front office about whether to use the fourth pick or trade it.

“The one way to not screw it up is just to take the next best player,” the executive said. “But you start moving back, trying to gain a pick, you don’t have control. … Don’t get cute. At end of the day, eventually there’ll be a gap between certain players. Wouldn’t you rather control that rather than letting who everybody else takes dictate it for you?”

This is the game of basketball roulette that Jackson will be playing Thursday night, and the reason James Dolan decided to pay him $60 million over five years to finally point the Knicks in the right direction. The Zen Master has been making the media rounds of late, including a national radio appearance on Monday that coincided with a generated by an interview Jackson granted last month during the Chicago draft combine.

Whatever Jackson says is interesting, but pales in comparison to what he will actually do. League sources say the most likely scenario Jackson will be weighing Thursday night is a choice among D’Angelo Russell, Kristaps Porzingis and Emmanuel Mudiay with the fourth pick. Russell, who some teams believe is under strong consideration by the Lakers at No. 2, is the least likely of the three to be available when the Knicks are on the clock.

There are those in front offices who view Porzingis as worthy of the No. 1 overall selection; former Nets executive Bobby Marks said Saturday on that he projects Porzingis as the best player in this draft 10 years from now. He isn’t alone, though it’s fair to point out how easy it is for teams that don’t have the No. 1 pick to say such things.

If Russell is gone, as expected, and Jackson doesn’t share the prevailing view on Porzingis, the possibility of trading down could become appealing. If Jackson has a strong preference at No. 4 and doesn’t get his man, moving down a few spots and picking up a 2016 first-rounder to continue the talent infusion might be a gamble he’d be willing to take. It is not one without considerable risk, however.

The next tier of players includes Justise Winslow, Mario Hezonja, Stanley Johnson, Myles Turner, Devin Booker, Trey Lyles, Willie Cauley-Stein and Frank Kaminsky, according to one team selecting in the top 20. One such deal to move back a few spots and choose among those players, a rival executive said, could involve Denver, which owns the seventh pick. As part of the deal, the Nuggets could relinquish their right to swap 2016 first-rounders with New York. Better yet, Denver has two protected hile happy with the Argentine’s impact, Conte would prefer the focus be on his team as a whole.He explained, “When people are talking too much about individuals, I never like it. “I want to talk about the team. “Lautaro is improving and growing, first-rounders incoming next year from Memphis and Portland. The Blazers’ pick, lottery-protCrystal Palace striker Alexander Sorloth is enjoying his football at Trabzonspor.Sorloth has scored 12 goals so far this season.”I’m glad to be here and be part of the team. I enjoy working with both my teammates and coaches,” he said. “If I get the opportunity to be here in the future, I’d like it.”I want to be here for as long as I can. I like the people here and people treat me really well.”ected in ’16 and ’17, could replenish the first-rounder that the Knicks sent out in the Andrea Bargnani trade.

It is widely believed in rival front offices that the Knicks will make a strong run at unrestricted free agent , and the Pistons likewise have fortified their roster by acquiring from the Bucks. A defensive ace like Cauley-Stein would be a sensible complement to Monroe, and he will be available outside the top four — especially with concerns among some teams about the healing of a stress fracture in his ankle. Cauley-Stein’s agent, Rich Kleiman, told DraftExpress that the Kentucky junior is “100 percent pain free and not limited in any way.”

It’s all part of a complicated re-stocking plan that Jackson has taken on with the Knicks, one with plenty of risks and potential rewards.

Though the talks have yet to gain traction, Sacramento and Denver have discussed a deal involving point guard Ty Lawson, league sources say.

Kings coach George Karl is desperate to find a starting point guard, and pressure is coming from owner Vivek Ranadive to make the playoffs this season. A deal sending the Kings’ No. 6 pick to Denver for Lawson would give the Nuggets the sixth and seventh picks to include in discussions with the Knicks for the fourth pick — or, simply jumpstart their ever-evolving youth movement with two top-10 players in a talented draft. , the Kings’ first-round pick in 2014, continues to be available in trade talks, sources say.

 The Rockets, who have the 18th pick, are surveying the landscape in an effort to acquire another first-rounder, league sources say. Two teams in the bottom of the first round, Memphis (25) and San Antonio (26), may be open to dealing their picks to avoid cap holds and preserve room as they re-sign and Kawhi Leonard, respectively.

The NBA has released the list of 19 players tentatively scheduled to attend the draft, and one notable prospect is not scheduled to be in attendance: Georgia State’s R.J. Hunter. UCLA’s Kevon Looney, who has fallen to the early 20s on most draft boards after once being viewed in some circles as a top-10 pick, did make the cut. The green-room invitees, as of Monday: Devin Booker, Willie Cauley-Stein, Sam Dekker, Jerian Grant, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Stanley Johnson, Frank Kaminsky, Looney, Trey Lyles, Emmanuel Mudiay, Jahlil Okafor, Kelly Oubre, Jr., Cameron Payne, Bobby Portis, Kristaps Porzingis, D’Angelo Russell, Karl-Anthony Towns, Myles Turner and Justise Winslow. Mario Hezonja is still playing in Europe, so he can’t attend.




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