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Knicks on the radar of top NBA Draft prospects Malik Monk, De’Aaron Fox

John Calipari, the head coach of the Kentucky

John Calipari, the head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats, gives instructions to De'Aaron Fox, No. 0, and Malik Monk, No. 5, during the game against the Valparaiso Crusaders at Rupp Arena on Dec. 7, 2016 in Lexington, Ky. Photo Credit: Andy Lyons / Getty Images

Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox attempted three-pointers in a Manhattan gym less than two miles from Madison Square Garden. But they’re real long shots to play for the Knicks.

Falling to eighth in the NBA Draft Lottery severely hurt the Knicks’ chances of getting either Kentucky guard. Fox is expected to be taken in the top five. Monk, projected to go sixth, also should be gone when the Knicks pick.

“Hopefully,” he said inside the Vanderbilt YMCA Thursday.

This was not a slight on the Knicks as much as it was Monk wanting to be taken higher. It means more money, but it’s also a prestige thing.

Monk and Fox had positive things to say about the Knicks and Kristaps Porzingis. Monk said “Porzingis is nice” and his eyes lit up when he said “Madison Square Garden,” as soon as the Knicks were mentioned.

“Very historic team, historic place to play,” Fox said. “It would be great. They have the triangle offense. Figure it out. I’d never played in anything like that. It’ll be a test how much I can learn, how quickly I can learn.”

Monk said, “He basically said what I was going to say.”

Monk is training in New York and waiting for his agent to set up his workouts with teams. He wouldn’t rule out working out for the Knicks.

“If my agent says it, I’m going to have to do it,” Monk said. “I trust him.”

He had a similar response when asked about dropping to the Knicks.

“Any team that picks me I’m going to have to be interested because that’s where I’m going,” Monk said. “I’m just going to do what they tell me to do, play how they want me to play, and just try and do what’s best for me too.”

Team president Phil Jackson said the Knicks would be looking at “wings and guards” in this draft.

Fox is one of the best point guards. He torched likely No. 2 pick Lonzo Ball for 39 points in the NCAA Tournament. Monk is an explosive scorer, who lit up North Carolina for 47 points during the regular season.

The Knicks can dream one of them will be there, but the reality is French point guard Frank Ntilikina or N.C State point guard Dennis Smith could their most realistic options at eight.

Fox, Monk and former NBA player and current TNT analyst Kenny Smith met with teenagers from the Leaders Club of the Vanderbilt Y Thursday. They gave them advice while sponsor JC Penney fitted the teens for clothes to help them “suit up for success.”

Those suits may have affected the two prospects’ shooting accuracy. Fox airballed his first two three-pointers, but connected on one before Monk did. Afterward Fox flew to Los Angeles to train.

He was in Chicago last weekend for the NBA Draft Combine, and met with the Knicks’ contingent led by Jackson.

Fox said it was “really cool” meeting Jackson because he “idolized” him. Fox also Jackson didn’t talk much. He just looked at him and was kind of feeling Fox out while Clarence Gaines, the vice president of player personnel and a trusted Jackson advisor, asked most of the questions. Jackson referred to Gaines as “a master interviewer.”

“He asked all the questions,” Fox said. “He was sitting right here. I was like, ‘Man is somebody else going to ask me something?’ He asked the majority of the questions. Phil just looked at you. When he asked the questions he asked the questions that he needed to know.”

Fox said the triangle offense never came up.

New York Sports