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NBA

The Knicks Did Something Cool That Probably Will Not Ever Matter, But Still

James Dolan sits next to a big Knicks logo.
Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty

The Knicks—are you sitting down right now? Listen to this. The Knicks—the New York Knicks, of the NBA, yes—did something cool and good Wednesday night. They were nimble, and clever, and smart, and they pulled off something that, at first glance, almost looks like sleight of hand. And they did it without somehow lighting their own buttcheeks on fire. I know!

Here’s what they did: They had the 27th and 38th picks in the draft and, without giving up anything at all—literally without spending anything— they turned them into the 25th and the 33rd picks. They had the 27th pick, and they made it the 25th pick. And they had the 38th pick, and they made it the 33rd pick. I can hear you hooting and hollering from all the way over here. Your hands are trembling! You are pumped! How did they do this?

I will tell you how. Hours ahead of the draft itself, the New York Knickerbockers packaged the 27th and 38th picks together and traded them to the Utah Jazz in order to move up and secure the 23rd pick. That was the value of the 23rd pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, as of Wednesday morning. But values change, sometimes over a very short period of time. By 10:20 p.m., the value of the 23rd pick had increased, and the Knicks, in a slick bit of arbitrage, cashed in the marginal value of that increase by trading the 23rd pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for the 25th and 33rd picks. Neat!

And what did the Knicks gain from all this impressive moving-and-shaking? How will they capitalize from the bounty they scored simply from laying in the cut and seizing a rare opportunity? Well, ah, history tells us that a player chosen 25th overall—in this case a Kentucky guard named Immanuel Quickley—is most likely to top out as a warm body. But it may interest you to know that the player drafted 25th overall in 1984 was a man named Devin Durrant, which at least alphabetically is very close to Hall-of-Fame-level value.

As for that 33rd pick, it was traded to the Clippers in exchange for a 2023 second-rounder. And of course there’s still the chance that fun-looking 23rd pick Leandro Bolmaro and slick-shooting 33rd pick Daniel Oturu will defy the odds and become stars, in which case the Knicks will, in fact, have lit their own buttcheeks on fire. Still!