USA About: Knicks Publish: Last Friday at 7:18 AM Edit: Last Friday at 7:18 AM Author: Gardener
In Thursday night's NBA draft, the Mavericks made a long-awaited acquisition, that of center Christian Wood, and did something unexpected in the second round. They traded in the draft to grab number 37: athletic shooting guard Jaden Hardy, who just a few months ago was considered a lottery pick candidate. As we know this would happen since June 15, the Mavericks and Rockets actually honored their verbal agreement, which would see 6-10 center Christian Wood join the Mavericks for the No. 26 pick and four rarely used Dallas players is sent. That #26 pick turned out to be Wendell Moore, who the Mavericks picked for Houston and who the Rockets in turn sent to Minnesota. As of late Thursday night, the NBA was yet to approve the Wood deal, but that is expected to be a formality. And the Mavericks took a low-risk swing by trading second-round picks in 2024 and 2028 for Hardy, a player with longer-term upside potential. Hardy averaged 30 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists as a high school senior and was Nevada's 2021 player of the year, but he sidestepped scholarship offers from Kentucky and UCLA, among others, to play for the G League's Team Ignite last spring, where he scored averaged 17.7 points but shot just 35% in 12 games. These developments are not to say that Thursday night's draft unfolding was safe for Dallas. If there was any doubt as to whether the Knicks plan to head to Mavericks free agent-to-be guard Jalen Brunson, New York next week, those intentions were made abundantly clear on Thursday night. The Knicks traded their first-round pick, No. 11, to Oklahoma City for No. 13 pick Jalen Duren and future picks -- then New York promptly boxed them in with guard Kemba Walker (and his $34 million salary). a trade to Detroit. The Mavericks have the number one advantage when it comes to keeping 25-year-old guard Brunson: money. As a reigning team, they can guarantee Brunson a fifth season for a total package of up to $175 million, while the Knicks and other teams can only offer four guaranteed seasons. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and President Nico Harrison have said the #1 priority offseason was to keep Brunson. Now they know they're messing with New York. But, hey, if the Mavericks can hold Brunson, they've teamed up with the wiry but athletic 26-year-old Wood, who averaged 17.9 points and 10.1 rebounds and averaged 50.1% for the Rockets with 20 wins. improved significantly while starting 67 games last season. For Harrison, preparing for this draft night was completely different than last year's draft, which took place a month after he was hired. The Mavericks didn't have a first or second round choice. Many of the calls Harrison received before and on draft night began with rival general managers congratulating him on his new job. "No team congratulates me, that's for sure," Harrison said with a smile. Although Dallas entered draft night with a verbal lumber deal and no second-round picks (which were traded to Washington in the Feb. 10 Kristaps Porzingis deal), Harrison said the Mavericks' staff were prepared as if they could pick. "We don't call people trying to trade our players to try to get in the draft, but you never know what's going to come out." Thursday marked the second year in a row and the third time in four years that the Mavericks made no first-round selections. That trend is likely to continue next June unless the Mavericks act in the draft. Her first round pick was sent to New York as part of the 2019 Porzingis trade, although the pick is top 10 protected. The good news is that the Mavericks reaped the rewards of their 2018 draft night haul from Luka Doncic and Brunson, although they now have to fight to keep Brunson. For more coverage of Mavericks in the Dallas Morning News, click here.
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