Knicks president Leon Rose watches his team play against the...

Knicks president Leon Rose watches his team play against the Rockets during the first half at Madison Square Garden on March 2, 2020. Credit: Jim McIsaac

The Knicks find themselves in the lottery once again, raising hopes and questions among their fan base of just what they will do with the No. 11 pick in Thursday night’s NBA Draft. But rather than focusing on who they will select, the real question is what team president Leon Rose and his front office will do in the bigger picture.

If we know anything from this Knicks front office in their short history at Madison Square Garden it’s that they are, if silent, willing to be active on draft day. In their first two drafts they have attempted to move up. But even that wasn’t all as they shuttled places back and forth, picking up assets along the way as they got in place to get the pieces they wanted later in the draft — Immanuel Quickley, Quentin Grimes, Miles McBride, Rokas Jokubaitis and Jericho Sims.

The draft hasn’t been a problem for this front office. You can debate the Obi Toppin pick and whether they could have grabbed Tyrese Haliburton and solved their point guard search, but with Walt Perrin leading the scouting and Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau getting his way with a number of defensive-minded players last season, they have been solid outside of the lottery.

But after last season’s disappointing performance on the court — and in roster-building — and the clock beginning to tick on their tenure leading the organization, the pressure is raised to lift the team into contention. And they remain a long way off from that. So more than adding a piece at No. 11 there is a belief around the league that Rose could be active again.

In a rare public appearance, Rose spoke at the end of the season with MSG Network’s Mike Breen and said, “We have to stick to the plan, we have to build one block at a time, be patient. We feel like we’re set up, you know, really well as far as like, we’ve got 13 draft picks over the next three drafts, four first-round picks. With regard to opportunities that may come along, we’re very flexible . . . We want to show patience, we want to show prudence in making those decisions and continuing to develop what we have.”

But at some point they need to turn that stockpile of assets into star talent. They remain far behind young, stable groups in the Eastern Conference in Boston, Milwaukee and Miami. RJ Barrett is the only player who seems to have a secure future right now with the franchise. Moves like stockpiling second-round picks and bringing aboard Cam Reddish are on the clock, too, as the Knicks see just what they can be turned into now.

The glaring need for a point guard remains, but that answer is not expected to be around when they pick, so the Knicks have investigated moving up to No. 4 or 5 in the draft where they could land Purdue’s Jaden Ivey. The most likely targets if they stay put are Duke wing AJ Griffin, Wisconsin shooting guard Johnny Davis or Ohio State’s Malaki Branham. If Shaedon Sharpe drops, the Knicks have plenty of Kentucky intel on him and it would not be surprising to see the team grab him even without a workout. But staying put might be the longest shot in the draft.

A week after the draft when free agency begins they have to deal with their young center Mitchell Robinson entering unrestricted free agency, so the team could settle for a center like Jalen Duren from Memphis, Duke’s Mark Williams or Auburn’s Walker Kessler. While the team still hopes to retain Robinson, the defensive anchor, if some team opts to put a large salary on the table the Knicks have their limits and they could move down a few spots and still likely pick one of them up.

But the Knicks are just as likely to use the pick to obtain a veteran who can help turn things around immediately. While the Knicks are still interested in Jalen Brunson joining them as a free agent, that talk has cooled. Dallas seems intent on retaining him and the Knicks’ math to clear cap space — they are currently over the cap — is a difficult push as they try to unload the salaries of Alec Burks, Nerlens Noel and Kemba Walker. So the Knicks have joined the teams in talks with Indiana as they look to move Malcolm Brogdon and his $20 million salary. Brogdon checks all the boxes that coach Tom Thibodeau seeks in a point guard — good size, smarts and defensive ability. But he has been plagued by injuries throughout his career.

So what happens Thursday night? The Knicks seem more likely to move up or down than to stay put at No. 11. That pick has been dangled along with the 2023 Dallas first-round pick — and the contract of Burks or Noel, an unproven Reddish and just about anyone who isn’t RJ Barrett — in efforts to move up in the draft or to secure veteran help. When the draft starts it’s Rose on the clock again.