Despite the fact that the New York Knicks do not own a single pick in the upcoming 2014 NBA draft, the Knicks brass is still evaluating talent, and in some cases inviting potential draftees in for workouts at the teams training facility. There were some initial reports that suggested the Knicks would attempt to buy their way into the draft, but as of today that looks like an extreme long-shot.
So where does that leave the Knicks?
Well, as we sit here on June 24th, with just two days until the 2014 NBA draft the most likely scenario for Phil Jackson and the Knicks to acquire a first round pick would be through a trade, with the likely candidate being fourth year guard and fan favorite Iman Shumpert.
If the Knicks are able to make a deal and get themselves into the draft there is a strong possibility it is to put them in a position to acquire ex-Tar Heel and NBDL standout P.J. Hairston.
Hairston is a former UNC standout who’s career at North Carolina was just as often controversial as it was promising. After several off the court incidences, North Carolina expelled Hairston last December. Despite his poor behavior, Hairston’s time at UNC was not all that bad from a production standpoint. In 33 games with the Tar Heels during the 2012-2013 season Hairston averaged 14.7 points and 4.4 rebounds in 23 minutes per game.
After his expulsion from North Carolina Hairston was able to catch on with the Texas Legends of the NBA D-League. While Hairston was always a highly touted prospect, his immaturity and off the court issues at North Carolina prevented a lot of scouts from being able to project what type of NBA player he might actually turn into. But after only a few weeks in the NBA D-League the picture of what P.J. Hairston had the chance to become started to emerge. In just 26 games with the Texas Legends Hairston averaged 21.8 points and 3.5 rebounds and immediately began rising back up the player rankings.
The Knicks invited Hairston in for a workout on June 5th, a meeting that left both sides glowing about the possibility of Hairston landing in New York. “The interest level is very, very high,’’ Hairston’s agent, Juan Morrow, told The Post. “You never know what Phil Jackson has up his sleeve.’
Another NBA GM gave the New York Post this scouting report on Hairston, “Two things stick out for him: his body, one of the stronger bodies of anybody in the draft for a wing position like Mitch Richmond. He’s extremely strong, a bully-type scorer. He can shoot the NBA 3 and beyond without a lot of effort because he’s so strong. He had some huge games in D-League. Downside to him, though, is as high as his highs are, his lows are just as low. He really struggled in some games. Consistency was an issue for him.’’
While it is clear that there is mutual interest on both sides, Phil Jackson and the Knicks will need to work a little magic in order to put themselves in a position to draft the intriguing prospect. If history is any guide, the trade to acquire a first round draft pick, assuming the Knicks do so, would almost definitely unfold on draft night.
Hometown: Greensboro, NC
High School: Hargrave Military
College: University of North Carolina
Professional: Texas Legends (NBADL)
Projected position: SG
Weight: 229 lbs
Standing reach: 8’5″
Standing vertical: 32″
Max Vertical: 37″