Newsday's Al Iannazzone takes you inside the Knicks.
Jimmer-mania begins June 2
A year ago, the Knicks brought in a scoring machine from BYU named Jimmer Fredette, who then pulled out of the draft after he injured his quadriceps during the workout. The Knicks tried to talk him into staying in the draft so they could swipe him before the long-range shooter attracted anyone's attention.
Too late. Without a first-round guarantee (the Knicks had two second-round picks last year), Fredette decided to return to college. And before the season reached December, Fredette was on everyone's radar.
The Knicks, with the 17th overall pick, still have their eyes on him, and the Glens Falls native will return to New York for his first workout of the predraft process on June 2.
But are we looking at another Stephen Curry situation here?
The Knicks loved Curry in the 2009 draft -- Mike D'Antoni joked after his workout that Curry would replace Allan Houston as the greatest shooter in franchise history -- and thought they had a shot at him until Golden State swiped him with the No. 7 pick, just one slot before the Knicks were on the clock. It was devastating for the Knicks and disappointing for Curry, who spoke openly about his desire to play for the Knicks and in D'Antoni's system.
Fredette has also acknowledged his interest in the Knicks, who have scouted him heavily over the last two years. I recently talked about him to one team scout, who replied with a sarcastic, "Don't write about him!"
One NBA agent laughed about how the New York media coverage tends to negatively impact the Knicks draft plans. "You guys do such a thorough job," he said, "everyone knows who [the Knicks] are targeting before the draft. It ends up [hurting] them."
It might not matter. A few NBA scouts feel Fredette -- while a bit of a risk because of his size and questions about whether he can defend at the NBA level (especially at the point guard position) -- won't get past the Utah Jazz, who have two picks in the lottery, including their own at No. 12.
And if the Jazz do pass on the BYU star, I've heard the Phoenix Suns would grab him at No. 13.
The Knicks don't need to put too much work into getting to know Fredette. After almost two years of scouting, they know him well. But after what happened in '09, they will make sure this time around to have a better backup plan. The ill-advised decision to select Jordan Hill, rather than selecting one of the remaining point guards (Brandon Jennings, Ty Lawson, Jrue Holiday and Darren Collison) still resonates.
Along with Fredette, another longshot is the European center we mentioned yesterday here at the Fix, Donatas Montiejunas, while other targets of interest are power forwards Kenneth Faried, Justin Harper and Markieff Morris, shooting guards such as Alec Burks and Klay Thompson and point guards such as Nolan Smith and Reggie Jackson.
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* - Along with predraft scouting, I'm hearing that the Knicks will also host a free agent minicamp in early June. This is a workout that will likely involve mostly D-League players and perhaps a few from the International circuit for the Knicks to take a look at for either their summer league team -- if there is one -- and also to consider invites for training camp. With a great deal of uncertaintly regarding salary cap space in the new CBA system, the Knicks have to try to unearth a gem or two the way they did in the early 1990s, when John Starks and Anthony Mason were discovered by longtime scout Fuzzy Levane out of the old CBA and USBL leagues.
One name to keep an eye on as a potential Anthony Mason-type addition is Vernon Goodridge, a 6-9 power forward with long arms and pogo-stick legs. At 27, Goodridge has made the rounds through the minors and had a training camp invite with the Golden State Warriors last season.
I haven't yet been able to confirm if Jerome Jordan, the 2010 second round pick who was acquired from Milwaukee and spent this past season in Europe, will be in attendance.
* - Chauncey Billups has been working with trainer Joe Abunasser in Las Vegas, but right now his effort has been in coaching, not playing. Billups has offered his assistance as Abunasser prepared draft-eligible players for the pre-draft process. Preparing for his next career move after his playing days are over? Billups has often said he wants to remain involved in the NBA either in a front office or coaching capacity. Perhaps D'Antoni can hire him as the defensive assistant coach.
The 34-year-old point guard, who missed the last three playoff games because of a tendon strain in his knee, is not quite ready for full workouts yet. He's scheduled to return to New York after Memorial Day Weekend to have a follow-up MRI and determine when he will be cleared to play.
Tags: Knicks , Jimmer Fredette , NBA Draft , Stephen Curry , Mike D'Antoni , Donatas Montiejunas , Kenneth Faried , Markieff Morris , Nolan Smith , Reggie Jackson , Klay Thompson , Alec Burks , Chauncey Billups , Vernon Goodridge , Anthony Mason