NBA DRAFT (JUNE 27)
What will the Knicks do with the 24th pick?
The team's two pressing needs are: one, a younger and explosive backup point guard who could help maintain the faster pace of Raymond Felton (the team ranked last in the league in fast-break points); and two, a younger, physical big who can score inside and a bit outside, rebound, defend, bring energy and make hustle plays. They were sorely missing a player like that in the Pacers series.
With that being said, the Knicks like two point guards in the draft: Dennis Schroeder (Germany) and Pierre Jackson (Baylor). While Schroeder, who's being compared to Darren Collison, is ranked higher than a 24th pick, he could slip because he's an international player. Jackson is slated to go in the second round, but he's noted for his athleticism and ball-handling. Shane Larkin (University of Miami) might draw some interest, but his general measurement testing at the Chicago pre-draft combine was "not special at all," according to a draft expert.
A sleeper pick is Nate Wolters (South Dakota State).
"I wouldn't be shocked if someone took him in the first round," the expert said. "He has very good size at 6-4, he can shoot, he's real smart, and creative with his ball-handling and passing. He's kind of like a poor man's Ricky Rubio."
As for rookie bigs, Jeff Withey (Kansas) is the most sought-after in the late first round for his defense and shot blocking. However, because the Knicks have a low first-round pick, a source familiar with their potential draft plans had this to say: "They are going to go best available at their pick, regardless of position."
FREE AGENCY (STARTS JULY 1)
Speaking with two sources familiar with the Knicks' potential free-agency plans, the bottom line is this: Don't expect many changes.
"They will try to improve and enhance their core," one source said. "They have eight players under contract and they will re-sign J.R. [Smith], making it nine. Then it's the mid-level [of $3.18 million] and minimum salary guys who want a chance to prove themselves."
Here are some younger point guards and versatile big men who might be attractive, affordable options (the new CBA allows for more opportunities to find cheaper talent):
Point guards: Aaron Brooks (team option), Will Bynum, A.J. Price, Nate Robinson and Sebastian Telfair.
One source said Chris Smith, J.R.'s younger brother, will not be considered.
"Chris is not an NBA player -- not even close," the source said. "He will never play for them."
Knicks' offseason notebook, Part 1
ESPN New York | May 27