July 15, 2024

Spurs Summer League Coach Reacts After Knicks Acquire His Draft Rights

Retired Finnish player Petteri Koponen humorously reacted when the New York Knicks acquired his rights in a Draft Day trade with the Dallas Mavericks to secure German center Ariel Hukporti.

“I’m honored, [Knicks],” he tweeted on X (formerly Twitter), “but I’m still going to honor my commitment with the Spurs.”

Koponen, 36, retired in 2022 and recently joined the San Antonio Spurs coaching staff for the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. He joked, “Of course, a financially ridiculous offer could change things plus I got the new hip! I’m ready.”

The trade involved the Knicks sending the Mavericks the 51st overall pick Melvin Ajinca in exchange for the 58th overall pick Ariel Hukporti, Koponen’s draft rights, and cash considerations. Why include Koponen, a 36-year-old rookie, in the deal? According to Alex Schiffer from Front Office Sports, “Sometimes, to make an NBA trade work financially, teams have to include their lowest asset as a throw-in, whether it be a player stashed overseas or the draft rights to someone who will never play in the NBA. In the Knicks’ case, it was the latter.”

Petteri Koponen’s Long Route to the Knicks

Koponen was the 30th overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers.

His journey to the Knicks began in 2004 when the Golden State Warriors acquired two future first-round picks from the Mavericks in a trade involving Christian Laettner and Erick Dampier. In 2005, the Warriors sent one of those picks (2007) to the Denver Nuggets in the Eduardo Najera-Rodney White trade. In 2006, the Sixers acquired the 2007 Mavericks first-round pick, along with the Nuggets’ first-round pick, in the Allen Iverson trade.

That Mavericks’ first-round pick became Koponen, the last pick of the first round in the 2007 NBA Draft. The Sixers traded Koponen to Portland for the 42nd overall pick Derrick Byars and cash considerations.

In 2011, the Trail Blazers traded Koponen’s rights to the Mavericks in a three-team deal involving Raymond Felton and Andre Miller. The Mavericks held Koponen’s rights for 13 years while he excelled with Finland’s national team and in the Euroleague.

Petteri Koponen

Koponen averaged 7.5 points and 1.8 assists in six Euroleague seasons, shooting 46% from three-point range in 155 games. He nearly played in the NBA in 2008 with the Washington Wizards Summer League team.

Knicks’ Draft Day Trade Frenzy

The Knicks entered the 2024 NBA Draft with the 24th, 25th, and 38th picks but ended up with four rookies — No. 25 Pacome Dadiet, No. 34 Tyler Kolek, No. 56 Kevin McCullar Jr., and No. 58 Hukporti — along with Koponen’s rights, cash considerations, and three future second-round picks after a series of trades.

In the first round, the Knicks selected Pacome Dadiet with the 25th overall pick. They traded the 24th overall pick (Kyshawn George) for the Washington Wizards’ 26th and 51st overall picks, then quickly sent the 26th pick (Dillon Jones) to the Oklahoma City Thunder for five future second-round picks. On the second day of the draft, the Knicks acquired Kolek from Portland for three future second-round picks and 2015 second-round pick Daniel Diez’s draft rights. They also traded the 38th overall pick Ajay Mitchell to the Thunder for the 40th overall pick Oso Ighadaro and cash considerations. Ighodaro was then traded to the Phoenix Suns for McCullar and a future second-round pick.

Finally, the Knicks made the trade with the Mavericks for Hukporti and Koponen’s draft rights.

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