The 2012 NBA Draft will take place on June 28 at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. (for the second straight year, but what Newark lacks in location, grandeur and sizzle it makes up for in Brazilian and Portuguese cuisine!). The New York Knicks will have just one selection, the 48th overall pick, the 18th pick of the second round. The Houston Rockets have the Knicks' natural pick, the 16th overall. Here's why:
Back in February of 2010, LeBron James was set to become a free agent and the Knicks wanted him. So did a lot of other teams, but for about two years the Knicks' every move had something to do with acquiring James in July. So on February 18, the Knicks made a deal that put themselves in position to not only acquire James, but another of the numerous "stars" that were to be available in the loaded cupboard that was 2010 NBA Free Agency.
So the 'Bockers sent recent draftee Jordan Hill and fan least-favorite Jared Jeffries to Houston and got back Tracy McGrady. Oh yeah, they also swapped first round picks in 2011 and sent their 2012 pick (this year's) to Houston. At the time, Howard Beck of the New York times wrote:
By trading Jared Jeffries and acquiring McGrady’s huge expiring contract, the Knicks created nearly enough cap room to sign two superstars in July — with their sights set on James and whoever wants to share the spotlight, whether it is Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade or Joe Johnson.
The Knicks’ most important summer in a decade just became infinitely more intriguing, even if no one would directly acknowledge it.
In essence, the Knicks swapped the future for the present, and draft picks for free agents. If they succeed in their July shopping spree, the picks become nominal. If they fail, the Rockets reap a nice reward, in the form of high draft picks.
Welp, we all know what happened and where we are now. The Knicks didn't land LeBron but signed Amare Stoudemire, traded a boatload for Carmelo Anthony and signed Tyson Chandler. The acquisition of McGrady's contract and shipping out Hill, Jeffries (as well as Larry Hughes to Sacramento) were moves that had to be made. The Knicks probably envisioned the 2011 and 2012 draft picks that Houston got back being a bit lower, because they thought LeBron James would be losing late in the playoffs for them instead of someone else (which as a Knick fan I would sadly take), not bowing out in the first round for two straight years with Stoudemire and Anthony.
Now the Knicks are tasked with finding a gem in the second round, which they have actually done a good job of doing in the past few years. Although Donnie Walsh was calling the shots, in 2010 and 2011 respectively, the Knicks drafted Landry Fields and Josh Harrellson (essentially, as he was drafted by New Orleans but shipped to New York in a cash deal). Despite the shortcomings Fields has shown since Anthony came to town, he was an All-Rookie selection and is a serviceable player. Harrellson could shape out to be a good role player and has a great nickname (if you don't know it, a Knick fan you are not).
NBADraft.net and DraftExpress.com, two of the best NBA Mock Draft sites you can find, have the Knicks going with Darius Johnson-Odom, the sprite little guard out of Marquette, at 48. As a Seton Hall dude and watcher of Big East hoops, the Knicks could do a ton worse at this point in the draft than Johnson-Odom. He's quick and athletic and can score a few different ways. Plus he has a readily built-in Clyde Frazier nickname: "DJO with the flow!". Or something like that.
Good gets would also be Ohio State's William Buford (good shooter, four year player), West Virginia's Kevin Jones (local kid from Mount Vernon with a high basketball IQ), Kim English from Missouri (great jump shot, 45% from deep as a senior), or Herb Pope (I am a biased Seton Hall grad).
While it would be nice for the Knicks to have their first round pick - Houston can probably grab North Carolina's Tyler Zeller or Kendall Marshall or Kentucky's Terence Jones at 16 - the Knicks had to make these moves back in 2010.