Kristaps Porzingis is expected to be out at least 10 months following his ACL surgery last week. What kind of team will he come back to?
Before the New York Knicks’ star returns to the court, team president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry will make several decisions that could alter the course of what has been a mostly dysfunctional franchise for the past 18 years.
At 23-36, the Knicks have the ninth-lowest win percentage in the league. Assuming they finish in that spot — they could very well drop further, given Porzingis’ absence — it would guarantee New York a pick no lower than 12th in the 2018 NBA draft. Perry has said that New York will be prepared for any and all scenarios as the draft approaches.
To that end, New York, like most other teams, has already sent personnel to scout top point guard prospect Luka Doncic, according to sources. Some in the organization are also high on Michigan State forward Miles Bridges and Villanova wing Mikal Bridges, sources say.
After adding a quarterback first overall, the Browns can complete their offense by adding a high-character leader and versatile offensive weapon at No. 4. Barkley won’t fall past the first seven picks in the draft.
This pick is under the assumption that the Broncos will sign Kirk Cousins in free agency. If they do, giving Cousins a top running back (Barkley) or offensive lineman will make his life easier. If they don’t sign Cousins, this pick might be Baker Mayfield.
That number could change if they sign Porzingis to a new deal this summer. Porzingis is eligible for a five-year, $157 million extension, with a starting salary of $27 million. If New York decides to wait and offer Porzingis an extension in the summer of 2019, it would create an additional $10 million in cap space for the club.
If the Knicks sign Porzingis to an extension this summer, they could still have around $20 million in space (again, assuming they renounce their rights to all free agents). But the $10 million could be the difference between affording a max-salary player and affording a second-tier free agent, assuming the Knicks would be in the market for that kind of player. New York could also create cap space by trading a veteran such as Courtney Lee prior to the summer of 2019.
A second massive trade-up for a quarterback: The Steelers make a deal in a similar move to what the Chiefs did a year ago for Patrick Mahomes. Pittsburgh can trade its first-round picks this year and next year in order to select Ben Roethlisberger’s future replacement.