Chad Ford and John Hollinger wrote recently in their Future Power Rankings, "The Nets rate first in future draft positioning — no team is better positioned to make a splash in the draft the next few years." After the Tracy McGrady trade, the Knicks have to be at the other end of the scale. The Knicks in effect mortgaged their future. If they can use the cap space they got in that trade to sign free agents, no one would care much about the picks. They'd be in the 20's. The Rockets on the other hand are gambling the Knicks won't be successful in signing free agents and so their picks would be much better.
Here's a breakdown of the two teams' picks the next three years.
Nets — First round: their own pick and the Mavs’ unprotected pick, obtained in the Jason Kidd trade. Second round: The Nets’ own pick. (To acquire Chris Quinn, cash and a second round pick in 2012, the Nets had to return something to the Heat. So they agreed to "trade" their second round pick in 2010 to Miami. But the Nets protected it, 31-50, meaning the Heat would get the pick only if the Nets finish in the top 10 this season. That's now a mathematical impossibility, guaranteeing the Nets keep the pick). Currently, Nets have a guaranteed pick in the top four--including the best chance to get the overall #1, as well as the #23 and #31 picks. The Nets have a 25% chance to get the #1 pick and a 46.5% chance of getting the #1 or #2.
Knicks — First round: none, send to Suns in the Stephon Marbury trade in 2004; rights now held by the Jazz. Second round: Knicks will exercise the Nuggets' option to swap picks with the Clippers, part of the 2008 Renaldo Balkman trade. Currently, the Knicks have the #40 pick.
Nets — First round: their own pick. Second round: their own pick and the Warriors’ unprotected pick, obtained in the restructuring of the Marcus Williams trade.
Knicks — First round: their own pick as long as it’s #1. Otherwise, the Rockets have the right to swap picks. Second round: none. The Knicks sent their pick and cash to the Lakers in the 2009 Toney Douglas trade.
Nets — First round: their own pick and Warriors’ pick, protected 1-7, acquired in the restructuring of the Marcus Williams trade. (Should the Warriors’ pick be in the top seven in the 2012 Draft, the Nets would get the Warriors’ pick in 2013, also protected 1-7. If the Warriors again pick in the top 7 in 2013, the Nets would then get the Warriors’ pick in the 2014 draft, this time protected 1-6. In the unlikely event that the Warriors once again picked that high, the Nets would get the Warriors’ second round picks in 2014 and 2016 instead.) Second round: their own pick plus the unprotected Heat pick acquired in the Chris Quinn trade.
Knicks — First round: their own pick as long as it’s 1-5. If not, it goes to the Rockets. Second round: their own pick.