The Knicks do not have a first-round pick in this month’s draft and they’re also up against the salary cap, but it doesn’t mean they won’t be diligent in trying to improve their team.
Although they lost their first-round pick to the Rockets (No. 14) in the Tracy McGrady trade two years ago, and only own pick No. 48, New York has had its allotment of players stroll through their facilities for pre-draft workouts.
As the team twists in the wind waiting on the exclusive Bird Rights arbitration on players such as Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak — it leaves point guard as their most pressing need. Notable point guards that have already worked out for the Knicks include Casper Ware (Long Beach State), Tu Holloway (Xavier), Scoop Jardine (Syracuse), Scott Machado (Iona) and Jordan Taylor (Wisconsin).
Thursday’s workout didn’t feature any true point guards, as mostly wing players participated. The most notable names included 6-foot-6 shooting guards Kim English of Missouri and Dominic Cheek of Villanova and 6-foot-7 small forward Quincy Acy of Baylor. All three figure to be available when the Knicks select in the second round and all three have different skills that would fill voids.
English, 23, is a shooter in the mode of the Thunder’s three-point specialist Daequan Cook, who said he likes to study Ray Allen’s game. English, who averaged 18.3 points last season, is a mature four-year player who embraces defense and can also play point guard in a pinch. Cheek is a slick scorer, with an unorthodox way of getting buckets, who could add some extra pop off the Knicks’ bench. And Acy is an undersized brute whose motor never stops who says he can blend into any role, whether it’s as a star — as he was at Baylor — or a role player.
Acy was quick to say he’d embrace being that “garbage man” in the role of Charles Oakley, an everyman who wants to do the dirty work while stars Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire shine.
“I have no problem with that,” Acy said. “Whoever gets me, wherever I play, I can do the dirty work. … I admire guys like [Nuggets forward] Kenneth Faried and [Clippers forward] Reggie Evans. Those guys show you can stay in this league and make an impact by just hustling and getting after it, mixing it up.”
Faried was such a popular player as a rookie last year that he earned one of the all-time great NBA nicknames, “Manimal.” Acy said he isn’t looking for a cool nickname, but acknowledged he was sponge-like when retelling his time spent with the Knicks’ brass. Acy noted he got “great advice” from Knicks assistant general manager Allan Houston and that Houston believes he can have a positive impact should the Knicks select him.
Houston, who was unavailable for comment, reportedly discussed the type of impact a rookie can have on a team without scoring a point. That’s ironic considering Houston was known more for his great jumpshot and not for being a great defender. But when you play in the NBA as long as he did (13 years), Acy said you “listen and soak up” everything he says.
The Knicks’ stars will certainly soak up Acy’s infectious play should he be fortunate enough to hear his name called next Thursday.
»Dominic Cheek wasn’t even supposed to be at the Knicks’ pre-draft workout, but his competitive nature wouldn’t let him miss out on the chance of impressing the local team. The former St. Anthony (N.J.) star got a phone call around 9 a.m. Thursday asking if he was available to work out for the Knicks, as a spot opened because former Georgetown forward Hollis Thompson is sidelined with a sports hernia (Thompson attended the workout but did not compete). Cheek, who averaged 12.5 points and 3.9 rebounds per game as a junior last year, said he was stunned and pleased when he got the call: “It was a last-minute call. The Knicks just called me and I just drove right up here. … I wanted to show them that I’m competitive, that I can knock down the jumpshot and I’m improving my ball-handling. And to be honest with you, I’m a great defensive player, too. I couldn’t really prove it too much in college, but that’s one thing that I did in high school and I still can do it right now. That’s what I have to prove to a lot of NBA coaches. Every time I go in the workout, my main focus is to show that I can play defense and you know, whatever else they need.”
Although most scouts said Cheek needed another year of seasoning at Villanova, he insisted he’s gotten solid reviews from teams like the Heat and 76ers: “I got some great feedback in Miami. They really liked me out there. I competed with the other players and they told my agent they really liked me.”
Maybe Cheek knows something the pundits don’t because many think he’ll go undrafted. But he is represented by Happy Walters, who also represents Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert. When prodded if he’s heard any promises from teams that he’d be picked if still on the board, Cheeks said no but added it’d be a “dream” to be a Knick: “It’s definitely a dream come true. I live about 40 minutes away from New York and I would love to play for the Knicks.”
» While Jeremy Lin awaits the verdict on his Bird Rights, he went ahead and changed representation, hiring Williams & Connolly’s Jim Tanner as his agent for basketball and marketing deals.
» Should things fall the Knicks’ way with the Bird Rights ruling, look for them to make a strong push for unrestricted free agent point guard Steve Nash. The former MVP and future Hall of Famer won’t be allowed to talk to teams until he’s officially a free agent on July 1, but when approached at a promotional event in New York earlier this week, Nash said he’d embrace the Knicks as a real contender for his services: “The Knicks are a great franchise and I live in New York City [during the summer], so I’d definitely consider them if they were interested.”
Knicks legend and MSG Network announcer Walt “Clyde” Frazier was also at the same event as Nash and told the point guard, “We need you to come to New York!” Nash replied that he was “flattered,” but added he wants to “weigh all the options” when the time comes. It’s unlikely the Knicks will have the money to sign Nash because the best offer the Knicks could make the two-time MVP would be a veteran’s minimum contract, which means a pay cut for Nash, who made $11.6 million last year. Everything hinges on the Bird Rights ruling because signing Nash is possible only if the Knicks don’t re-sign restricted free agents Lin and Novak.
Follow Knicks beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8 for all your offseason news leading up to next week’s draft.