Knicks host Gorgui Dieng, Nate Wolters ahead of draft
The Knicks hosted another closed workout on Tuesday with specific needs in mind.
Now that both Jason Kidd and Rasheed Wallace have retired, and Pablo Prigioni is still debating whether to return to the team or go back to Argentina, there are a couple of voids at two of the most important spots on the roster — backup point guard and depth in the post.
The Knicks’ workouts have been big man and guard-oriented so far, and Tuesday was no different. Among the notable names in the workout were Louisville center Gorgui Dieng and South Dakota State point guard Nate Wolters.
The latter will most certainly be available by the time the Knicks select with their No. 24 pick, but since most credible mock drafts have him ranked somewhere in the mid-30s, the Knicks could still get their backup point guard should they trade down. The Knicks have no second-round pick.
Dieng, however, is a rising commodity and may not be there by the time the Knicks are on the clock. But if his name slips past teams like the Nets, Bulls, Pacers and Jazz — all teams who like to stockpile as many bigs as possible and all teams directly ahead of the Knicks — New York may be the destination for the former Louisville pivot.
“I played for a coach who was really demanding and I came from a winning program. All I care about is winning and whatever it takes, so I don’t think I’ll see a coach again that’ll drive me like him,” said Dieng. “Wherever I go I won’t have a problem to fit in.”
Dieng noted that he likes the possibility of calling New York home, even if Knicks head coach Mike Woodson favors veterans. The 6-foot-11 Dieng said former college coach Rick Pitino has properly prepared him for any situation in the NBA, so no role will be too big or small for him.
Where exactly Dieng will fit in is still in question, as most mocks don’t have him lasting past the Bulls’ No. 20 pick. Chicago is a model franchise and like the Knicks, have a storied history. And for Dieng that’s all that matters.
He even went as far to allude that he’d rather fall to a good and stable franchise than a perennial lottery team, because he wants to stick in the league as long as possible.
“[Pitino] said I can go anywhere from 12 to 20, [but] when it comes to draft pick, I don’t really care. I just want to go to a [good] team,” Dieng said. “When it comes to the draft, you can last only two years or 10. If you have the same talent [coming] out of college and go to a bad team, you can only last two years. But you can go to the right team out of college with the same talent and last 10 years. … To me, I don’t care where I’m going. I just want to be a first-round pick and go to the right team and I’ll take care of the rest.”
Wolters is hoping to just have the chance to take care of the rest, as the sharp-shooting point guard isn’t as highly regarded as Dieng. Wolters is a bit of a mystery because he was an under-the-radar high school player who wasn’t prominent on the AAU circuit, and then went to a mid-major program.
But Wolters feels he has a lot to offer the Knicks should they shock the league and grab him at No. 24 — or manage to get back into the second round and use their pick on him.
“I’ve watched [the Knicks] a lot because they were on national TV a lot, and they definitely need a point guard. They like to spread the floor out and shoot a lot of 3s, so I think I’d fit in perfectly,” Wolters said. “This would be a great fit. Jason Kidd just retired and Raymond Felton is a solid point guard, so I definitely feel I can add to it. Hopefully I get the opportunity. … I’m really good with the pick-and-roll game and I know they run a ton of pick-and-roll. I can also spread the floor and get it to shooters. I know I can also be a facilitator.”
Follow Knicks beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.