In case you haven’t heard, the New York Knicks are in a dark place.
How dark, you ask?
Well, New York, once thought of as possibly the most attractive options for NBA players when perusing the league’s markets, are now pretty much a place to avoid.
The latest embarrassment for the Madison Square Garden operation run by owner James Dolan comes from a report that Dennis Smith Jr., one of the most exciting, high-ceilinged prospects from last month’s draft, very well could have schemed to make sure he wasn’t picked by the lowly Knicks.
This is all according to some chatter from an ESPN podcast called the “Lowe Post,” which is hosted by NBA writer Zach Lowe.
In an episode released on Wednesday, Lowe welcomed Howard Beck of Bleacher Report, who used to cover the Knicks for the New York Times, and Ian Begley of ESPN.com.
The trio broke down the current Knicks situation, which includes drama involving stars Kristaps Porzingis, who apparently is unhappy with how last season went, and Carmelo Anthony, who could be moved in a trade at any moment.
New GM Scott Perry has quite a pickle of decisions to make with less than three months before the season begins in mid-October.
One decision the Knicks didn’t have to make, however, had to do with Smith during the pre-draft process.
The Knicks, who were led by coaching legend Phil Jackson at the time, were drafting eighth and were apparently considering Malik Monk of Kentucky, Frank Ntilikina of France, Donovan Mitchell of Louisville and Smith.
Here’s what Lowe, Begley and Beck had to say about the developments about Smith from the draft:
- BEGLEY: There were people in that room who were making the case for Malik Monk, making the case for Dennis Smith Jr., obviously you see the summer league Dennis Smith Jr. has had and people go crazy. I think it’s too early to draw 100 percent conclusions, but (Ntilikina) was 100-percent a Phil move.
- BECK: The other name that I heard was in there quite a bit, maybe not universally, but there was certainly was discussion of him, a lot of the staff really liked Donovan Mitchell.
- BEGLEY: Absolutely. No question.
- BECK: I heard there were concerns about Dennis Smith from a medical standpoint, there were some things… you never know with these situations… agents withholding things because they don’t want you to draft a guy, or they… I believe there was a lack of access to medical records.
- BEGLEY: Yep.
- BECK: That had been out there. It’s never as simple as, well, Phil saw this guy as a great triangle guy, there were other people around the league who said, triangle or no triangle, Ntikikina is a legit point guard.
- The Knicks eventually drafted Ntilikina instead.
Smith was instead drafted ninth by the Dallas Mavericks and was stellar with NBA Summer League to the point where he has become a front-runner for the Rookie of the Year award in a loaded class.
As it turns out, the Knicks and their fans might one day regret not thinking more seriously about making Smith the pick at eight.
Although it appears he never really gave New York a chance.