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Knicks add picks, clear cap space in trades with Thunder, Pistons, Hornets

Ousmane Dieng with Knicks at 2022 NBA Draft

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 23: NBA commissioner Adam Silver (L) and Ousmane Dieng pose for photos after Dieng was drafted with the 11th overall pick by the New York Knicks during the 2022 NBA Draft at Barclays Center on June 23, 2022 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

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The New York Knicks are trading draft picks and clearing cap space.

Same old Knicks?

Maybe, maybe not. New York’s cap-room plans look similar to past pursuits. But at least the Knicks added future first-round picks in trades with the Thunder, Pistons and Hornets.

New York traded No. 11 pick Ousmane Dieng to the Thunder for three protected first-rounders (one getting redirected to Charlotte) then sent Kemba Walker’s undesired salary to Detroit. For taking Walker and sending the Bucks’ 2025 first-round pick (which they just acquired in the Jerami Grant trade) to the Knicks, the Pistons get No. 13 pick Jalen Duren from the Hornets. Charlotte gets the Nuggets’ lottery-protected 2023 first-rounder and four second-round picks from the Knicks.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Rod Boone of The Charlotte Observer:

The Knicks are paying a fairly substantial price to unload Walker’s $9,165,471 salary. They also clear the No. 11 pick (projected starting salary: $4.5 million) from their cap sheet as they gear up for free agency.

That 2025 Milwaukee pick doesn’t look particularly valuable. Giannis Antetokounmpo is still under contract through then, and, even if the bottom falls out on the Bucks, the pick is top-four protected. If not conveyed in 2025, the pick debt would expire.

At least the future first-rounders kept from Oklahoma City look good for the Knicks:

  • Detroit’s (top-18-protected in 2023 and 2024, top-13-protected in 2025, top-11-protected in 2026 and top-nine-protected in 2027 then a second-rounder)
  • Washington’s (top-14-protected in 2023, top-12-protected in 2024, top-10-protected in 2025 and top-eight-protected in 2026 then two second-rounders)

The Pistons come out well ahead in this deal. Though I’m not keen on drafting centers high, Duren brings potential with his youth, size, strength and athleticism. He adds to a promising young core that now includes Cade Cunningham, No. 5 pick Jaden Ivey and Saddiq Bey. (Downgrade the odds of Detroit chasing Suns restricted free agent center Deandre Ayton.)

I saw a steep drop after the top seven prospects in this draft, and they were all off the board within the first seven picks. Both New York at No. 11 and Charlotte at No. 13 had good reason to trade those picks.

Oklahoma City is overflowing with future picks and could justify overpaying to get a desired player. (The Thunder also had the No. 12 pick and took Santa Clara wing Jalen Williams after selecting Chet Holmgren No. 2.) I’m not high on Dieng, but I see the upside.

Though their return wasn’t nearly as good as what the Knicks got for No. 11, the Hornets get a decent amount of draft capital for their No. 13 pick – a future Denver first-rounder (lottery-protected the next three years then two second-rounders) plus four second-rounders. Despite trading Duren, Charlotte also got its long-needed center with the No. 15 pick: Duke’s Mark Williams.

Maybe Detroit could use Walker to back up Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey. But the Pistons already have Cory Joseph (who opted in) and a team option on Frank Jackson. Walker could get bought out.