Is it Worth it for the Knicks to Spend a Draft Pick for Masai Ujiri?

There’s been a buzz on the internet about the Knicks acquiring the Toronto Raptors VP Masai Ujiri for their front office vacancy. Poaching an executive from another team isn’t illegal in sports, as there usually requires some kind of compensation for the deed. In May the Raptors acquired a second round pick from Orlando, because the Magic hired Jeff Weltman to be their president.

Ujiri would likely cost the Knicks more than a second round pick. I’d say a good estimate would be a protected first, maybe with sliding protection like top-15 the first year, top-10 the second, top-5 the third, no protection the fourth. (It’s highly unlikely that the Knicks would make it to the third or fourth year, so it’s not too worrisome that the protection decreases at that rate.)

In any case, should the Knicks consider such a transaction?

To answer the question, I’m going to take a comment from yesterday to illustrate my point:

Would you rather:
A) Spend part of your meager savings to hire a highly-touted financial adviser?
B) Keep all your savings for investment by a less highly touted adviser?

If you agreed with that analogy, the Knicks should almost certainly keep their pick. However, I don’t think it’s an apt analogy for this organization. My revised version would be:

A) Spend part of your meager savings to hire a highly-touted financial adviser?
B) Keep all your savings, but your Uncle Jimmy will be in charge of finding your adviser. The same Uncle Jimmy that has gone after every bad financial fad in the last 20 years. The one who is in a band, still thinks they might make it one day. Jimmy’s considering using the guy from a few years back, you know the one that put everything in housing right as the market collapsed and cost your Uncle a ton of lost years in investments. And then he cost your Uncle a ton of money in a legal defense of sexual harassment scandal initiated by the adviser himself!

The point is I don’t trust Uncle Jimmy. And I’ve been in this situation before with my Uncle Leon.

Leon Hess bought part of the New York Jets from 1963, and gained full ownership in 1984. The Jets were comically bad when Hess ran the team, until 1997. That’s when the Jets poached Bill Parcels from the New England Patriots. It cost the Jets “their first-round draft choice in 1999, second round in 1998 and third- and fourth-round picks in the April draft, plus $300,000 to the Patriots’ charitable foundation.”

It was a hefty sum to be sure, but it changed the franchise. The Jets became instant winners, going 9-7 in Parcels first season, and then 12-4 in his second giving the franchise their best shot at making the Super Bowl since 1969.

As a Jets fan, this era changed my outlook on the team. No longer were the Jets the league’s laughingstock. They were a respectable franchise, like any other, and this dignity outlasted Parcels’ time in New York. In the 10 years prior to Parcels’ arrival the Jets won no more than 8 games in any season. In the 10 years after Parcels left, they had a winning record 7 times. The effect the Big Tuna had on the culture of the organization and the perception of it from those outside of it was immeasurable. It was worth far more than those draft picks.

And Parcels in New York isn’t the only franchise turned by a front office hire. The New England Patriots wouldn’t be the same team without Bill Belichick, and how did the Patriots get him? They poached him from the Jets!

“The Patriots sent the 16th overall pick in the upcoming 2000 draft and fourth- and seventh-rounders in 2001 to the Jets for the rights to Belichick, a 2001 fifth-rounder, and a 2002 seventh-rounder. “

Look at the successful teams in the league. Would a Spurs fan rather have a lottery protected pick for either R.C. Buford or Gregg Poppovich? Would Dallas Mavericks fans have Mark Cuban sell the team for a 2018 first? After yesterday’s trade for Chris Paul, would a Rockets fan want to trade Daryl Morey for Malik Monk or Luke Kennard or Donovan Mitchell?

My point is simply this: the Knicks need respectability more than they need a draft pick. A single (protected) first round pick is unlikely to add more wins than a highly skilled GM. I’ll even take it one step further. Even if the pick was only protected in the top 10 or top 5 or even top 3, it’s worth changing the inner workings of the front office and soon after, the perception of the team by the rest of the league.

Because as a Knick fan, if the team could do it all over again, wouldn’t you want New York to keep Pat Riley and let the Miami Heat draft Walter McCarty?

Knicks Morning News (2017.06.30)

  • [NYDN] Ex-Cavs GM David Griffin to interview for Knicks presidency
    (Thursday, June 29, 2017 9:31:38 PM)

    The Knicks have eyes on Masai Ujiri, but the man recently jettisoned by Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert could also be considered.

  • [NYDN] Jeff Hornacek, Knicks aren’t completely abandoning triangle 
    (Thursday, June 29, 2017 9:25:10 PM)

    On the surface, nothing really had changed for the Knicks.

  • [NYDN] Hard to believe Isiah Thomas is out of mix for Knicks’ job
    (Thursday, June 29, 2017 9:25:04 PM)

    Dolan has made it known that Thomas is his friend and that he values his opinion.

  • [NYDN] John Calipari denies rumored interest in Knicks presidency
    (Thursday, June 29, 2017 7:27:39 PM)

    Calipari might be ready to try his hand at the NBA again.

  • [NYDN] Knicks spell Frank Ntilikina’s name wrong on jersey
    (Thursday, June 29, 2017 1:44:21 PM)

    Maybe they should’ve drafted Malik Monk.

  • [NYDN] Isiah Thomas says he’s ‘not interested’ in joining Knicks
    (Thursday, June 29, 2017 1:03:37 PM)

    Isiah Thomas isn’t interested in a Knicks reunion — or so he says.

  • [NYDN] Knicks aren’t even good at selling jerseys right now
    (Thursday, June 29, 2017 9:17:55 AM)

    The Knicks can’t even compete in selling gear these days.

  • [NYDN] Knicks’ Ntilikina misses Summer League practice with knee injury
    (Thursday, June 29, 2017 9:08:54 AM)

    Knicks top draft pick Frank Ntilikina missed Thursday’s Summer League practice because of a bruised knee.

  • [NYDN] Inside Phil Jackson’s tumultuous three years as Knicks president
    (Thursday, June 29, 2017 8:34:00 AM)

    Former Knicks president Phil Jackson was the highest paid part-time consultant in NBA history — and a three-season disaster.

  • [NYDN] Isiah Thomas a ‘dark horse’ candidate after Carmelo outlasts Phil
    (Thursday, June 29, 2017 7:01:48 AM)

    Jackson’s next book is going to be a doozy, assuming of course that his divorce settlement with James Dolan doesn’t include a gag order.

  • [NYDN] 10 worst moves Phil Jackson made as Knicks president
    (Thursday, June 29, 2017 6:18:52 AM)

    Phil Jackson made plenty of bad decisions with the Knicks, but here are his worst 10.

  • [NY Newsday] Report: Former Cavs GM David Griffin on Knicks’ list of possible replacements for Phil Jackson
    (Thursday, June 29, 2017 11:35:44 PM)

    ORLANDO, Fla. — The Knicks are assembling a list of candidates to replace Phil Jackson as president, and former Cavaliers general manager David Griffin is on it, according to an report.

  • [NY Newsday] Knicks no longer looking for players to fit a system
    (Thursday, June 29, 2017 8:08:09 PM)

    ORLANDO, Fla. — Jeff Hornacek said he texted Carmelo Anthony after Phil Jackson’s presidency ended on Wednesday. But when he was asked if he wants Anthony on the roster next season, Hornacek paused a few seconds, and he never said yes.

  • [NY Newsday] Knicks draft pick Frank Ntilikina sits out practice with sore knee
    (Thursday, June 29, 2017 7:45:38 PM)

    ORLANDO, Fla. — Frank Ntilikina stood on the side with ice wrapped around his right knee as the Knicks’ summer league team went over some plays at the end of practice.

  • [SNY Knicks] Daily News Live: Is Isiah Thomas going back to the Knicks?
    (Thursday, June 29, 2017 5:42:01 PM)

    The Daily News Live panel discusses the report about whether Isiah Thomas is a contender to return to the Knicks front office.

  • [SNY Knicks] Isiah Thomas says he is not interested in becoming Knicks president
    (Thursday, June 29, 2017 5:29:36 PM)

    New York Liberty president Isiah Thomas said in a tweet on Thursday that he is not interested in becoming the Knicks’ president.

  • [SNY Knicks] Frank Ntilikina sits out Summer League practice due to injured knee
    (Thursday, June 29, 2017 1:29:59 PM)

    Knicks’ first-round pick, PG Frank Ntilikina, sat out of practice Thursday due to a bruised knee, per NY Daily News’ Stefan Bondy.

  • [SNY Knicks] Knicks interested in PG George Hill
    (Thursday, June 29, 2017 1:03:44 PM)

    The Knicks are reportedly interested in Utah Jazz PG George Hill, per ESPN’s Ian Begley.

  • [SNY Knicks] Knicks focused on free agency, not Jackson’s replacement
    (Thursday, June 29, 2017 10:18:41 AM)

    Rather than focus on Phil Jackson’s replacement, the Knicks are going to focus on free agency over the next few weeks, per ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne.

  • [SNY Knicks] New York Sports Today: Knicks remain intent on trading Carmelo Anthony
    (Thursday, June 29, 2017 10:01:49 AM)

  • [NYTimes] On Pro Basketball: Jeff Hornacek Tries Being Tactful About the Triangle
    (Friday, June 30, 2017 12:52:13 AM)

    A day after Phil Jackson’s exit, Hornacek said the team’s offense would be a blend of last year’s plus some new things.

  • [NYTimes] Knicks Again Find Themselves at a Crossroads for Free Agency
    (Friday, June 30, 2017 1:23:05 AM)

    With Phil Jackson gone, the team has many options for the roster that center on how quickly they need to move on from Jackson’s play style.

  • [NYTimes] On Pro Basketball: Phil Jackson’s Beloved Triangle: A Symbol of Hubris
    (Thursday, June 29, 2017 10:27:45 PM)

    The offense became more than just a system of basketball; it became a three-sided prison.

  • [ESPN] Sources: Griffin, Knicks talk front-office position
    (Thursday, June 29, 2017 10:40:40 PM)

    Sources: Griffin, Knicks talk front-office position

  • [ESPN] Calipari makes inquiry to Knicks, sources say
    (Thursday, June 29, 2017 6:58:44 PM)

    Calipari makes inquiry to Knicks, sources say

  • [ESPN] Knicks’ next move? Free agency, Melo take priority over president search
    (Thursday, June 29, 2017 11:45:20 AM)

    Knicks’ next move? Free agency, Melo take priority over president search

  • [NYPost] Knicks’ top pick already having trouble staying on the court
    (Friday, June 30, 2017 12:37:39 AM)

    ORLANDO, Fla. — For French rookie point guard Frank Ntilikina, when it rains, it pours. Not only is the guy who drafted him six days ago no longer around, but Ntilikina has barely gotten on the court during the first two days of summer-league practice because of a bruised right knee. It hasn’t been determined…

  • [NYPost] What offense will Knicks run post-triangle?
    (Thursday, June 29, 2017 10:45:51 PM)

    ORLANDO, Fla. — Phil Jackson’s triangle offense is not dead and buried, but it’s moving toward life support. As pre-planned, the Knicks ran a bunch of triangle sets during summer-league practice Thursday, but it’s a long way until late September. Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek, trying to be deferential to his ousted boss, said he can…

  • [NYPost] Knicks will interview former Cavaliers GM David Griffin: report
    (Thursday, June 29, 2017 7:23:05 PM)

    Tim Leiweke, the former Staples Center executive who is heading the Knicks’ presidential search, apparently listens to Jerry West. After West contacted Leiweke to endorse David Griffin, the former Cavaliers general manager contacted the Knicks and will be among the initial interviews, according to an ESPN report. West, a Clippers adviser, had a poor relationship…

  • [NYPost] Knick accused of choking woman says she launched attack on his ‘private parts’
    (Thursday, June 29, 2017 6:00:05 PM)

    A Knicks player who is being sued for choking a woman outside a downtown Manhattan bar says that he’s the real victim — and that the woman launched an attack on his “private parts.” In a new court filing released Thursday, Knicks forward Kyle O’Quinn told a very different story from his accuser, Brooklyn resident…

  • [NYPost] Dysfunctional Knicks misspelled first-round pick’s name on jersey
    (Thursday, June 29, 2017 2:40:36 PM)

    If you thought the firing of Knicks president Phil Jackson would mark the beginning of the organization getting its act together, you might want to think again. The Knicks’ No. 8-overall draft pick, Frank Ntilikina, arrived to one of his first summer-league practices Wednesday to find his last name misspelled on his jersey. What was…

  • [NYPost] Isiah Thomas makes statement about Knicks vacancy
    (Thursday, June 29, 2017 1:16:31 PM)

    Isiah Thomas has “no interest” in replacing Phil Jackson as the Knicks’ president of basketball operations, according to Thomas himself,

  • [NYPost] If this is Jeff Hornacek’s best case for Carmelo Anthony, yikes
    (Thursday, June 29, 2017 11:50:55 AM)

    ORLANDO, Fla. — Phil Jackson is gone, but Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek fell short of giving Carmelo Anthony a full-blown endorsement in regard to his return next season. Asked directly if Anthony will be on the Knicks next season, Hornacek didn’t offer his support. “Carmelo’s a great player,’’ Hornacek said during a wide-ranging interview Thursday…

  • [NYPost] Knicks draft hope’s last week: Hurt knee and backer got fired
    (Thursday, June 29, 2017 10:00:30 AM)

    ORLANDO, Fla. – For French rookie point guard Frank Ntilikina, when it rains, it pours. Not only is the guy who drafted him six days ago no longer around, but Ntilikina has barely gotten on the court during the first two days of summer-league practice because of a bruised right knee. It hasn’t been determined…

  • [NYPost] Knicks’ free-agency options can expand with Phil out of picture
    (Thursday, June 29, 2017 8:16:54 AM)

    ORLANDO, Fla. — Phil Jackson’s ouster as Knicks president has opened up the door potentially to a new wave of free-agent options, but the team’s cap space hasn’t yet opened up, putting the franchise in a murky position with free agency dawning Saturday at 12:01 a.m. Even if the Knicks renounce the rights to Derrick…

  • [NYPost] Cavaliers fall guy getting behind-the-scenes Knicks push
    (Thursday, June 29, 2017 7:11:06 AM)

    From LeBron James to the Knicks’ dysfunction? That’s the move David Griffin could potentially make. Sources told ESPN that running the Knicks is the type of job he covets after being ousted by Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert earlier this month. The Knicks are targeting Raptors president Masai Ujiri, but taking him from Toronto would cost the…