Turmoil at Camelot: Knights Trade Honeycutt Amid Chaotic Draft
- By John Comey, Day 1, 2023
The Kansas City Knights have turned their franchise upside down. And it makes some around the league question just who is in control.
The Knights traded star guard Aaron Honeycutt to Baltimore for five draft picks, headlined by the twelfth overall selection. Add in a trade with Charlotte for the fourteenth pick, and you have a major shake-up in Kansas City.
The question remains, however: Who made the call?
Some circles will tell you it was not GM Jack Dawkins, but rather the ownership group wanting to get out from Honeycutt’s contract. Rumors persist that the ownership is infatuated with Dontay Sowder, and want to go all in to pursue him.
Dawkins, meanwhile, has taken a different narrative.
“Look, (Aaron) was incredible for this team,” said Dawkins at a press conference announcing the newest additions to the team, a presser that was overrun with questions about the shipped out superstar. “He was a perfect compliment for Kelvin (Hawes). At the end of the day, you have to give your team an honest assessment. Where are our holes? What will we have difficulty finding?
“To win the championship, you have to be more than two guys. When you realize that, sometimes you have to make big moves. I am not paid to keep the status quo, just because we won 58 games. We have to be more than a regular season winner.”
Dawkins made it clear during the press conference that it was his decision, and his alone, to move Honeycutt.
“It isn’t hard to see the writing on the wall,” said Dawkins.
Still, whispers get loud.
Of course, the team did look inward after their first-round playoff exit to Phoenix. But all indications were that they were pleased with their team, and could fill in the gaps, primarily at the point and small forward spots, through free agency and the 24th selection in the draft.
That turned out to not be the case.
To compound things, the man they targeted with the twelfth pick, point guard Darius Whiteside, was taken by the New York Renegades.
“(Whiteside) was, far and away, on top of the draft board,” said one team official.
Despite that, the team pressed on, selecting USC guard Matt Mueller with the 12th pick. The team then made their swap with Charlotte, sending #24 and a 2026 first rounder to the Drones, for the right to draft SF Dejuan Brooks from Michigan State.
With the second of the five picks received from Baltimore (they also received #35, #59, and Los Angeles’ first rounder next year), the team made the surprise pick of the night, grabbing center Marko Dujmovic, the 7’3 project from Texas A&M.
With the #35 pick, the team may have gotten a steal in SF Tyrone Jones, out of Arkansas. All indications are that he is further along in his development than Brooks, and may be a starter this season.
“(Jones) can play,” said a league scout. “They got a good one with him.
The team continued to be snakebit at the point guard spot with the #54 pick. The Knights had their sights set on Deandre Buie, but the Las Vegas Scorpions snapped him up with the #54 pick. So, the team took their third small forward of the draft, grabbing Purdue star Tyler Smith.
With their last pick, at #59, the team picked up Davidson sharpshooter Joshua Gilmore.
Out of those picks, only Mueller and Jones figure on seeing much time this year.
“The Knights took a decided step back,” said a league official. “Sure, they have a lot of young talent now. But what are they doing with Hawes’ prime? (Sowder) will not walk into that situation now. I thought he would have if Honeycutt were there. Now? Forget it. It’s a pipe dream.”
Free agency opens tomorrow, with rumors indicating Sowder will, in fact, re-sign with Houston.
There is no indication as to whether the Knights will go after a star to pair with Hawes, or sign veterans to short-term contracts, in an attempt to keep their flexibility for the future.
Of course, with no clear indication as to who is pulling the strings in Kansas City, or what kind of financial situation they wish to be in, the bottom line may trump all. If that were the case, they could very well find themselves at rock bottom.