Though tonight’s draft was dissappointing on some level, it was far from a failure. True, we didn’t get Stephen Curry (tear) and chances are we won’t end up with Ricky Rubio either. But the Knicks walk away from this draft with the second best big-man available (unless you’re buying into Thabeet) and a pretty underrated combo guard who should be able to provide instant offense and gritty defense off the bench.
Not only that, but Donnie managed to parlay Quentin Richardson, a good locker room guy but a useless player at this stage in his career, into a 24 year old, 7-foot, former second overall pick, total nutbar who’s brimming with untapped potential.
I’m not into handing out grades for drafts right away because the truth is no one will really know the relative value of the players chosen tonight for at least three years (and in some cases maybe more) but, all in all, I feel confident that Donnie didn’t have a bad night. That being said, he didn’t exactly plug every hole on this team either. There’s still a ton of work left to be done during this critical summer if the Knicks are going to make the playoffs and set themselves up to be major players in 2010.
For starters, the Knicks somehow managed to walk away from this draft without a PG of the future despite the fact that (1) the team had two first round picks (one of which was a lottery pick) and (2) PG was by far the deepest position in this draft. We all know why it went down this way but, nevertheless, that’s something that needs to be addressed going forward. The Knicks will not make the playoffs with Duhon logging 35 minutes every night again this season. Whether it’s Ramon Sessions, Steve Nash, Ricky Rubio or whoever, the Knicks need a PG. Period.
Not only that, but the team remains saddled with the contracts of Jared Jeffries and Eddy Curry. Even though the Knicks can presently afford one max free agent, they are still probably going to have unload at least one of those deals to realize their dreams of turning the team into a contender in 2010.
The good news is that there’s a whole lot of offseason left and the Knicks have some pretty marketable assets to work with in trying to balance the roster and address their needs. It’s clear that both Lee and Nate are coveted by other teams and that the Knicks should be able to parlay those guys into a key starter or two, or at least package them with an albatross contract to clear some more room under the 2010 cap.
Make no mistake though, if the Donnie Walsh era is going to be termed a success, tonight must have only been the beginning. If Donnie doesn’t have any moves up his sleeve this summer that are better than the ones he made during tonight’s draft, the team’s long-term aspirations may go up in smoke.