Examining the Knicks Lack of a 2016 NBA Draft Pick

Let’s Play the Blame Game

The simple fact is the New York Knicks do not have a pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. But how did they get here? Some may think it was Phil Jackson who got them here, but that would be wrong. Jackson didn’t join the team until 2014 and the Knicks 2016 first round pick was already gone by then.

The easy answer is Andrea Bargnani. In order to acquire him from the Toronto Raptors the Knicks gave up three picks, 2014 and 2017 second round picks and a 2016 first round pick. But that is still not true as the Knicks actually owned a Denver Nuggets first round draft pick to swap in addition to their own, effectively sharing Toronto’s and Denver’s first round pick with their own first round pick. The Knick’s thought they built in three fail safes for New York’s 2016 first round pick. So how did the Knicks end up with zero picks in the first round for 2016 and zero picks overall? You actually need to go back and look at the Carmelo Anthony trade.

Examining the Knicks Lack of a 2016 NBA Draft Pick

The World That Never Was

Back in 2011, the Knicks had managed to land a healthy young star in Amar’e Stoudemire and former team president Donnie Walsh sensed a turning point for the Knicks and decided to capitalize on it. He traded away David Lee to the Warriors and in return got Raymond Felton, Timofey Mozgov and a pair of second round picks. They sold out their arena for the first time since 2002 and the excitement around the team was palpable. With a young superstar in Denver rumored to be on the trade block, New York fans clamored to see Carmelo Anthony in the Big Apple and add a second superstar to a surging Knicks team. Walsh succeeded in acquiring Carmelo Anthony for the Knick’s 2014 first round pick and 2013 and 2014 second round picks that the Knicks had gained from the Warriors.

Vision? What Vision?

Here is where it gets interesting. The Stepien Rule in the NBA states that you cannot trade future picks in consecutive years, thus you can’t send your 2014 and 2015 in the same deal or even a separate deal. Another rule also prevents teams from trading seven years into the future, meaning at that time the latest round the Knicks could trade was 2018. However, because the Knicks had already given their 2012 first ground pick to the Houston Rockets before the Carmelo Anthony deal they locked themselves in 2011 into the legal limit of every other year they would have a first round pick until 2017. That left them with little to no room for any mistakes.

Everybody Gets a Pick

And here is where Barganani came into the picture. Since, things haven’t worked out for the Knicks in a long time, those future trades they made in 2011 for a strong roster didn’t pan out. So they continued to tweak the roster and New York made swap deals with their entire cache of second round picks from 2016, 2017, 2018, and all the way to 2021 as it was their only chips left with bargaining power. Then, either they liked the every other year pattern so much or they were just locked too tightly in it, they put a further mortgage on 2016 by trading away the Nuggets pick to Toronto creating that three way share mentioned earlier.

What Have We Got Here?

Life isn’t fair and the Knick’s find themselves on the outside looking in. All because back in 2011, New York just like all NBA teams, wanted a winning team now, and was willing to sacrifice the future to get it.


Main Photo via Getty Images.