Nothing the Knicks will do before or during the NBA Draft on Thursday will have even one-thousandth of the importance of what will happen from July 1 on. The Knicks have no first-round pick — Chad Ford says the Utah Jazz will take Nevada’s Luke Babbitt with the No. 9 pick Isiah Thomas traded away — but they do have two second-round picks. That’s something anyway. And that’s something they might try to trade up into something more.
The Post this morning reports that the Knicks are trying to get into the first round to take Nevada guard Armon Johnson. Essentially, it would be the same deal they made last year that landed them Toney Douglas: Being willing to pay $2 million or so in cash, along with a piddling second-round pick, is one of the few advantages the Knicks have left. The Knicks are awfully high on Johnson and think he’d be instantly a part of the team’s rotation at the point.
The only issue with moving into the first round is that first-round picks have guaranteed contracts, which would eat up about $1 million of salary-cap space which, as you might remember, is somewhat valuable to the Knicks. It’s also odd considering few mock drafts have Johnson as a first-round pick. ESPN’s Ford has him as the 36th pick to Detroit, and Ian Thomson of SI.com also doesn’t have him in the first round either. (NBADraftnet does have him in the first round, the 26th pick to Oklahoma City.)
So, if the Knicks don’t move into the first round, whom are they projected to pick? Ford has them with guard Terrico White of Mississippi with the 38th pick and guard Greivis Vasquez of Maryland with the 39th, and NBADraftnet has them with small forward Lazar Hayward of Marquette with the 38th pick and seven-foot-one German center Tibor Pleiss with the 39th. If they get him, we’re totally buying a Pleiss jersey.