Report: Knicks open to trading their first-round pick

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The Knicks are currently on pace to have the worst record in the NBA. This would give them a 25 percent chance of landing the No. 1 pick in this June’s draft, and guarantee them at least a top-four pick. This is about the most valuable piece a team can have when they’re rebuilding, especially when there are several potentially game-changing players in the draft. But according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, Knicks president Phil Jackson has at least explored his options with trading the pick.

From ESPN.com’s Ian Begley:

In an interview on ESPN New York’s “The Robin Lundberg Show,” ESPN NBA reporter Brian Windhorst said the Knicks are at the very least considering their options when it comes to trading their first-round pick.

Specifically, Windhorst said the Knicks are looking into “opportunities” to see “what they could possibly get if they trade their draft pick.”

Of course, it’s wise for Phil Jackson and the Knicks to at least gauge the market for the pick.

The trade market for their selection won’t really materialize until New York finds out where it picks. That will happen in late May after the NBA’s draft lottery.

Then, New York will have a clearer idea of what it can get back in a trade of the pick.

Due to NBA rules, the Knicks can’t trade the pick prior to making a selection, but they can agree to select a player for a team and then trade the player after making the pick.

So, in theory, the Knicks can acquire an impactful player by trading their draft pick. They can then use their cap space, which is expected to be at least $25 million, to sign a premier free agent.

A pick as good as the one the Knicks are slated to have would command a high price in return—not just an impact player, but a star. A DeMarcus Cousins, say. Not that Cousins will be available, but that’s the level of player the Knicks would need to be getting to make it worth their while to trade the pick. For a team with such little young talent next to the 30-year-old Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks need a future centerpiece, and getting the likes of Jalhil Okafor or Karl Towns in the draft is the best way to accomplish that.

It’s smart for the Knicks to at least weigh their options with trading the pick, just in case someone blows them away with an offer. But it’s highly unlikely anyone offers a player that will be worth their while to move.