NEW YORK — The players selected with the first three picks of the NBA Draft were the ones expected, even if D’Angelo Russell overtook Jahlil Okafor, and ended up going to the Lakers with the No. 2 overall pick.
Karl-Anthony Towns went one to the Timberwolves, which meant that with the early lack of surprises, the Knicks should have had a pretty solid plan as to which way they’d go with the fourth overall selection already in place.
But things remain fluid on draft night, so New York listened to offers to trade down.
Phil Jackson told reporters that he had conversations with other teams, but that any potential offers were contingent on how the first three picks played out.
Since nothing concrete transpired, the Knicks selected Kristaps Porzingis at four — and despite the fact that more than one scout has projected him to be the best player in this draft class once all is said and done, the Knicks fans in attendance at Barclays Center were, somewhat predictably, less than pleased.
“I mean, a lot of fans weren’t happy that they drafted me,” Porzingis said afterward. “But I have to do everything that’s in my hands to turn those booing fans into clapping fans.
“There’s nothing I can do,” he continued. “I was happy about it. I want to be a part of this organization, and I know the fans are a little harsh sometimes, but that’s how they are here in New York, and I’m ready for it.”
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There just wasn’t going to be that much money for the 28-year-old Dedmon in a tight market this summer.
Dedmon is a good defender, and he developed his ball skills – as a 3-point shooter and passer – in Atlanta last season. The Hawks could look to trade him. Maybe, in a deal primarily about his expiring contract, he adds extra value to the other team due to his playing ability.
If Atlanta doesn’t move him, Dedmon will be a fine player on a likely tanking team. At least he’s not good enough to subvert the Hawks’ tank, especially with the new lottery format.
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This is good return for the 76ers, who everyone knew had to trade a draft pick. The rebuilding Bulls could easily land a higher second-round pick than No. 39 next year.
Why do the Lakers want an extra second-rounder this year? Second-round picks don’t count against the cap until signed, and they can always slightly sweeten a trade offer. They’re helpful for a team with big plans and little wiggle room.
The Knicks expected this for a while, and they’re probably not disappointed. Steve Mills and Scott Perry want to put their stamp on the franchise. O’Quinn is a leftover from the Phil Jackson era and a reminder of the recent tumult in New York.
O’Quinn’s combination of block percentage (6.1) and defensive-rebounding percentage (27.8) was unmatched last season. He just really struck a nice balance between contesting shots and remaining in position on the glass. He’s also a smooth mid-range shooter with an improved ability to distribute.
How much is that player worth?
It’ll be a tight market, especially for bigs. For his sake, I hope the 28-year-old O’Quinn already has assurances from other teams. He might get a similar salary or, more likely, a larger overall guarantee on a multi-year deal. But it’s also possible he comes out behind by testing free agency.