A lot is being made of the players the Knicks have brought back for a second look in Monday's predraft workout at MSG Training Center, but perhaps more noteworthy is a player on the radar that hasn't been in for a workout: Morehead State's Kenneth Faried.
So why haven't the Knicks invited the 6-7 rebounding machine in for a workout? As one person with knowledge of the team's thinking said, "What are you going to do, measure him again?"
The point is, Faried's offensive abilities are limited enough that you're not going to see anything you don't already know from scouting the NCAA season and the tournament, which the Knicks did -- extensively.
But perhaps you could invite a whole bunch of awful shooters in and have Faried show off his uncanny ability to read the ball off the rim and get to every single carom like it's his next meal.
I'm not predicting that Faried will be the Knicks' pick at No. 17 (hey, what a great story tho...*Bill Murray/Caddyshack voice*: Newark native, draft is at Prudential Center, picked by the Knicks to a roar of cheers from the crowd....tears in his eyes, I guess....), but when debating how he'd fit in comparison to scorers such as Josh Selby and Marshon Brooks, consider that we already can mark in ink that Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire will take an aggregate of 45-50 shots per game for the Knicks. That will produce, with generous percentages, about 23-25 rebounds.
Someone has to get them. This past season the Knicks ranked 20th in overall rebounding at 40.45 per game, but were 24th in offensive rebound percentage at 24.2 and 26th in defensive rebound percentage at 71.9. It's an area a desperate need, though legitimate size and interior defense are, as well. At 6-7, Faried would play the four, which means when he's in the game, Amar'e is the center in a smaller, more athletic lineup that Mike D'Antoni is generally apt to utilizing anyway.
But the Knicks have to be holding out hope they can find a more talented rotation player at No. 17, though, despite the efforts of the draft gurus, this just isn't a deep enough draft to give reason to believe they can.
Let's acknowledge the obvious: there is a lot of internal pressure on this draft. The scouting staff are all at the end of their respective contracts and want to make a good impression. Plus, this is the last significant move Donnie Walsh will make before he rides off into the Indiana sunset. And then, of course, there is the lack of a first round pick in 2012, which is now owned by the Houston Rockets (unless, you know, the Knicks tank the season and win the lottery, then - good news! - it's protected).
Monday's workout included guards Selby, Brooks, Darius Morris and big men Nikola Vucevic and Jeremy Tyler. There was also a projected second rounder from Mississippi State named Ravern Johnson, who, from what I was told, was there to make it an even six for a 3-on-3 scrimmage.
[By the way, now there's a job I would have gladly accepted in the predraft process when I was draft eligible back in 1993. But the Knicks didn't have any picks that year anyway and, at the time, I didn't have an ACL in my right knee. So I guess I didn't miss much. Anyway, dream sequence over...].
Of the players in this particular group, which was comprised obviously of players who are likely to be available at No. 17, it is my understanding that Morris, a bit of a project who is more of a playmaker with good size, may be the best fit. Selby and Brooks need the ball and with Melo and Amar'e (and Chauncey Billups), they won't be getting it.
A player who wasn't at the workout who has many supporters in the war room is Iman Shumpert. Walsh is said to be enthralled by the 6-6 combo guard's defensive talents. Though he didn't get through his Knicks workout earlier this month (hip injury), Shumpert had a terrific showing at the Chicago combine in May and caught Walsh's eye.
Vucevic has decent talent and was measured at a legit 6-11 at the combine with a solid NBA body, but there is a reasonable debate about how much he can contribute as a rotation regular. Tyler is also a legit NBA body, but a project, period. He hasn't had enough quality coaching for him to be prepared to be an effective NBA player. But is he worth the selection if you had a second first round choice? "Absolutely," one NBA executive said. Tyler has the size and some intriguing physical tools, but he needs a lot of work, quite possibly in the D-League, before he can be counted on.
The Knicks can't afford to make a pick like that with just one first round pick. In fact, they might be better off pulling completely out of the draft by trading this year's pick for a 2012 first rounder, which, of course, would be a fine asset to add when it's decision time in New Orleans next year.
Let's address some of the chatter:
-- We told you in May that the Knicks were looking into ways they could move up in the draft to land either of their two favorite prospects, Jimmer Fredette or Klay Thompson. ESPN.com said on Monday that the Knicks still had an eye on moving up to land Jimmer. I believe this is old news and this dream died about 2-3 weeks ago. Do the Knicks love Fredette and his ability to spread the floor for Melo and Amar'e? Certainly. Does Fredette have the Knicks as his No. 1 preferred destination? Yes.
Did any of this matter in '09 when there was mutual desire with Steph Curry? Um, no.
The Knicks will try to make a jump, but it sounds like if the Maloofs get what they want, Fredette will be a King with the No. 7 pick. But the basketball people in the Kings war room will push for Kawhi Leonard.
Here's something to watch: if the Kings go for Leonard, it seems almost certain they will then put Omri Casspi, their 23rd overall pick from 2009, on the block. The Knicks would be very interested and a Casspi-for-Toney Douglas deal (plus cash, because the Kings need as much as they can get) would be a winner as long as the Knicks land a capable, ready-to-play backup point guard with the 17th pick.
And if the Kings pass on Jimmer, he won't go beyond the Jazz at No. 12. No chance. Utah will take Enes Kanter at No. 3 to fill Mehmet Okur's shoes and then get Jimmer to sell tickets.
As for Thompson, he could go as low as No. 10, to Milwaukee, which desperately needs perimeter shooting. But there is speculation that the Bucks may instead go for a forward, and Marcus Morris sounds like a target for them.
If that is the case, there's little to no chance Thompson slips by the Golden State Warriors at No. 11. Word is Jerry West will strongly recommend the Warriors go for Thompson, who would fit perfectly next to Stephen Curry and immediately start the countdown to a Monta Ellis trade. It's worth mentioning here that an NBA source said the W's aren't completely committed to Thompson, but when Jerry West makes a recommendation, you listen.
-- One potential "move up" plan could involve the Indiana Pacers, who have their eyes on Marshon Brooks. They could get him at 17, so if the Knicks want to pay $3M to slide up, Indiana might gladly listen. This is being speculated elsewhere, as well. The Knicks could use this as an opportunity to swipe a player who might slip, such as Fredette, Thompson, Chris Singleton or even Markieff Morris.
-- There's been a lot of buzz about Bismack Biyombo ever since he stunningly blew a workout in Europe (One scout told me, "He went 1-on-none....and lost."). Biyombo went from declining workout invites to now begging for them. He's working out for the Pistons and hoping for a guarantee from them at No. 8, but if he doesn't get it, on Thursday morning he'll take a trip up to Greenburgh for a workout with the Knicks.
Significance? A little. Or none.
The 6-9 power forward, with a 7-6 wingspan, wanted to work out for the Knicks and he'll be in the New York area for the draft anyway. I'm getting a ton of mixed signals on this player. He's been touted by all the draft experts, but yet one NBA source I talked to said there are fears that he could be another Saer Sene, an athletically-gifted, but extremely raw 7-footer who went 10th overall to the Seattle Sonics in the 2006 draft and is now out of the league with just 47 games played (including one during a 10-day contract with the Knicks late in 2008-09).
-- The Knicks won't be moving up to the No. 2 spot, despite what some reports suggest. Have they talked to the Timberwolves? Of course. Minnesota has talked to every single team in the league about a number of things. But the Knicks don't have the assets to make the kind of move to land a No. 2 pick, so forget it. I don't believe there's a great deal of reality in the Johnny Flynn talk, either. From what I understood, the Knicks could have entered Flynn into the discussion during the Carmelo trade back in February if they were that interested. The T-Wolves have been willing to move him for a while now.
Use your heads, Fixers. The Flynn chatter is dialed up even more now that Ricky Rubio has made the move from Spain to St. Paul. The T-Wolves want to create a market for Flynn and Flynn's people want to find a good landing spot for him.
-- The labor situation and potential for a lockout (and an extremely restrictive system on the other side) is expected to motivate some serious trade talks around the draft. As one general manager told me, the lockout/CBA talk "gives reason to make trades while you still can make trades." Andre Iguodala has been mentioned frequently and he could be one big name moved on draft night.
Another player potentially on the move is Raymond Felton, who definitely wants out of Denver if he's not going to be the starter. He has one year left on his deal ay $7.5M, so he'll be a good value for someone. But no, not the Knicks.
With the Cavaliers locked in to take Kyrie Irving with the No. 1 pick (don't listen to anything else), they'll shop Ramon Sessions ($4.2M in 2011-12 with a $4.5M player opt in 12-13) as quickly as they can. As long as Mike D'Antoni is head coach, the Knicks will always be an interested party.
-- Just a random thought that came up in a conversation with one NBA executive: if the Clippers really wanted to make a statement, they'd move back to San Diego before 2012. Why? That's where Deron Williams has built his dream home and where he spends the bulk of his offseason. He'd be a cinch to sign as a free agent.
-- Let me leave you with a little history: the last time the NBA Draft was held in New Jersey, the Knicks made three first round picks and fans came away gleefully praising the decisions to take John Wallace, Walter McCarty and Dontae Jones at No. 18, 19 and 21 overall. Then the season started and reality set in. None of the three lasted beyond their rookie seasons, as Jones was cut and both Wallace and McCarty were traded.
The Knicks that year passed on Zydrunas Ilgauskas (20th overall, to Cleveland) and Derek Fisher (24th overall, to Lakers), but that draft, while loaded with superstar talent (Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Ray Allen, Stephon Marbury) was, like this year, extremely top-heavy. It was arguably a 17-player draft and the Knicks had the 18th pick.
This year, some might say this is a 16-player draft and the Knicks are picking 17.