Knicks mining NBA draft for gold at No. 48

New York Knicks' new executive vice president and New York Knicks' new executive vice president and general manager Glen Grunwald during a press conference before the Knicks-Clippers game. (April 25, 2012) Photo Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams, Jr.

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The Knicks need to upgrade the guard position and add backcourt depth. But unless they make a big trade in Wednesday night's NBA Draft most of their work likely will be done during free agency.

As of now, all the Knicks own is the 48th pick. They sent their first-round pick to Houston in the 2010 Tracy McGrady deal, and they can't buy one. They gave the maximum $3 million they're allowed to add in trades per season under the new collective bargaining agreement to Washington with Ronny Turiaf, as part of the three-team trade with Dallas for Tyson Chandler.

That doesn't mean Glen Grunwald, in his first draft as the Knicks' general manager, won't try to be creative and look to move up to add assets or players who can help right away.

The Knicks worked out more than 40 players.

Some prospects they could be considering include Marquette guard Darius Johnson-Odom, Missouri guard Kim English, IUPUI swingman Alex Young and forwards Tony Mitchell of Alabama, Khris Middleton of Texas A & M and Baylor's Quincy Acy.

Iona's Scott Machado, who is from Queens, and Greek small forward Kostas Papanikolaou also could be in the mix. The Knicks could try to acquire another pick to land Papanikolaou, who's considered a good shooter, slasher and defender. But he likely will have to stay in Europe for another year.

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Other than Toney Douglas, who could be used as trade bait, and last year's first-round pick Iman Shumpert, who could be out until January after knee surgery, all of the Knicks' backcourt players will be free agents.

They're expected to re-sign Jeremy Lin and J.R. Smith, and perhaps Landry Fields. They extended qualifying offers to Lin and Fields, which will make them restricted free agents Sunday. Baron Davis won't be back and it's unlikely Mike Bibby will.

Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, Ray Allen and O.J. Mayo are among the free-agent guards the Knicks are expected to pursue.

Teams can find talent when they draft this late in the second round, but the key is scouting and developing the players.

Marc Gasol, a first-time All-Star this past season for Memphis, was the most notable player taken 48th in the past 15 years. During that same time frame, Manu Ginobili, Luis Scola, Marcin Gortat, Kyle Korver, Amir Johnson, Ramon Sessions and Isaiah Thomas were taken 49th and higher.

The Knicks have done well drafting in the second round recently. They took Fields 39th in 2010 and acquired the rights to No. 45 pick Josh Harrellson last year.

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