Knicks president Leon Rose’s first trade of his presidency career could bring them closer to either sought-after scoring forward Obi Toppin or Stanford point guard Tyrell Terry – pending which strategy they follow.
According to sources, the Knicks have talked to the Cavaliers about swapping the 8th and 5th picks in the 2020 NBA Draft by dangling their newly acquired 23rd selection. That would ensure Rose nabbing Toppin, the Brooklyn product and Creative Artists Agency client whom Rose covets for his offensive explosiveness.
The Athletic reported the Cavaliers want more in a swap, though they may pass on Toppin if the Bulls take Patrick Williams at 4 and leave the Israeli forward Deni Avdija for Cleveland. One source said the Cavaliers are also warming up to Auburn small forward Isaac Okoro.
For months, Toppin was penciled in at No. 5 with Cleveland planning to keep the Dayton forward in Ohio.
Rose used to run CAA and is enamored with Toppin, who is working out with Rose’s first client, Rich Brunson, in South Jersey. Brunson previously worked on Tom Thibodeau’s staffs in Chicago and Minnesota. On a Zoom call, Toppin said he’s also worked out with Knicks forward Kevin Knox.
On Wednesday morning, the Knicks traded their 38h pick and 27th pick to Utah to move up in the draft to 23. There’s various reasons for the move, sources said.
The Knicks have a slew of young players already and bringing in three rookies with the quick turnaround and the possibility of not having a G League season is one of them.
If they keep the 23rd pick, they’d be in better position to nab a player they like, possibly in a specific position at point guard. If the Knicks take a wing at No. 8 in Okoro or Devin Vassell, they would prefer a PG with their second pick.
If the Knicks take a point guard at 8 such as Alabama’s Kira Lewis or Killian Hayes, then they could use the 23rd pick on either a sharpshooter like Isaiah Joe or big man Isaiah Stewart of Rochester.
However, the Knicks also believed they have put themselves in better position at 8 and 23 to move up a few notches in the lottery than if they were dangling 27 and 8.
On a Zoom call Tuesday, Terry, 20, said the Knicks recently requested a second interview but it did not materialize. Terry said he’s worked out for just two teams, the Nets at No. 19 and the Grizzlies, who don’t have first-rounder.
“I’ll be able to bring a high level of unselfishness,’’ Terry said. “When I come in and able to contribute or best test teammate off bench it’s something I’m willing to do. Also level of work ethic. I want to be first one in gym and last one out as a rookie to gain respect from veterans.”
Terry said clubs have been hesitant to travel to his base in Indianapolis due to the Covid-19 spike. He’s regarded as one of the best-shooting point guards in the draft and shot 40.8 percent from 3.
The Knicks didn’t work him out. The franchise had a COVID-19 outbreak at their team facility and closed it down for a week after three staffers tested positive. The Knicks reopened the facility Tuesday and will stage a socially distanced war room in Tarrytown Wednesday night – armed with two draft picks instead of three.
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