CHICAGO — Kentucky coach John Calipari believes freshman forward Kevin Knox will be a very good NBA player, but it might take some time.
Knox met with the Knicks at the NBA Draft Combine Friday, and he fits what they want — a long wing player who can shoot. But Calipari said eight different times that Knox is “young” and teams need to be patient.
“Someone is going to take him and everybody’s going to say, ‘How did people pass on him?’ ” Calipari said. “You’re going to say because he was 18 at the time and who would have known. That’s what I think will happen.
“He’s not even close to what he’s going to be.”
You could say that about most players in the draft. But the 6-9 Knox, who averaged 15.6 points and shot 34.1 percent from three-point range for the Wildcats, turns 19 in August.
Calipari was asked how he compares with Villanova junior forward Mikal Bridges, who also is on the radar of the Knicks, who have the ninth pick. Calipari said it’s all about projection. Bridges, 21, is more NBA ready.
“This league has become a futures league,” Calipari said. “You’re not drafting for what they look like. This kid got the better of him. But you watch it and you say that’s only because he’s three years older. Where’s this kid going to be in three years? That’s the challenge of what all these guys have to do. Mine is rebuild a team every year. That’s my challenge.”
General manager Scott Perry said he wants to build the Knicks the right way and that patience is important. But he also said he wants someone who can contribute this year.
Calipari, who believes Knox is mature enough to play in New York, spoke to Perry for a while at the combine. Calipari said he told Perry if he wanted to talk about Knox to give him a call.
“With Scotty Perry I think they know: ‘Stuff hasn’t worked, we better be more patient. We better build,’ ” Calipari said. “I’ve known Scott for years and years. I think he gets it. So I think they’ll be fine and if they go that route.
“What they’re going to see is, this kid is really big. Really long. Skilled player, but he’s young. You just got to know you’re taking one of the youngest kids in the draft. But I think he’d do well there. The league has become a hit-or-miss league. If you shoot it, you’re good. If you can’t shoot it, you’re probably not good. And he can shoot.”
The big question. When Duke forward Wendell Carter Jr. interviewed with the Knicks Friday, he said he was if asked if he thought he could play with Kristaps Porzingis.
The 6-10 Carter played power forward and center for the Blue Devils alongside Marvin Bagley III, who is expected to go in the top five.
“That was kind of how we ended our interview,” Carter said. “If I was to come to New York, how it would work playing alongside him, learning his style of play, fitting in with him in the low post.”