The New York Knicks are expected to get a firsthand look at two of the top shooters in the NBA draft in the coming days.
New York, which has the eighth pick in the draft, is high on Monk, per sources. The Knicks like Monk, French guard Frank Ntilikina and North Carolina State guard Dennis Smith, among others, for the eighth pick, sources say. The Knicks had a workout scheduled with Smith earlier this week. Smith reportedly had dinner with team president Phil Jackson but did not end up working out for the club, sources told ESPN.
Kennard might also be in the conversation for the No. 8 pick.
The Duke sharpshooter has done well in pre-draft workouts, including at his agency CAA’s workout in Los Angeles last weekend. He has impressed decision-makers with his perimeter shooting and is widely viewed as a top-12 pick.
It’s unclear at this point if the Knicks are considering Kennard with the eighth pick, but that wouldn’t be a surprise.
The club is looking to acquire an additional first-round pick, per sources. One club they have spoken with about trading for a pick later in the first round is the Portland Trail Blazers, who own three first-rounders (15, 20, 26).
The Detroit Pistons are also reportedly talking to teams about trading the No. 12 pick. It would be surprising if someone from the Knicks front office hadn’t reached out to Detroit to talk about potentially acquiring the pick.
Kennard figures to be off the board by the 15th pick at the latest, so the Knicks would probably need to acquire another pick in the top 15 to have a shot at taking Kennard if they choose not to pick him eighth.
The club has worked out -- or is scheduled to work out -- several players who are projected to go later in the first round, including North Carolina’s Justin Jackson and Tony Bradley and Colorado’s Derrick White.
The Knicks will also likely secure a workout with Ntilikina, depending on his schedule. Ntilikina is currently playing for Strasbourg in the French League finals. He might not have time to make it to the United States for workouts and interviews before the June 22 NBA draft.
The Knicks have followed Ntilikina, 18, closely in France, and members of the organization are big fans of his 6-foot-5 frame and 7-foot-1 wingspan. He is seen as a player who could guard multiple positions at the next level and -- if he reaches what some see as his potential -- should be able to be strong on the offensive end as well.
The Dallas Mavericks have reportedly scouted Ntilikina heavily as well. Ntilikina posted a picture with Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and president/GM Donnie Nelson on Saturday morning. The Mavs have the ninth pick in the draft.
If Monk, Ntilikina, Smith Jr. and Kennard are all on the board when the Knicks select at eight, the club will have an interesting choice. Team president Phil Jackson has said on several occasions that the Knicks are looking for wings and guards. In Kennard and Monk, they could instantly add two top shooters to their roster.
The Knicks haven’t been a strong 3-point-shooting club under Jackson. They finished in the bottom half of the league in 3-point percentage in each of the past three seasons.
Kennard knocked down 43.8 percent of his 3-point attempts last season at Duke. Monk connected on 39.7 percent of his 3-point attempts, making nearly four per game.
Of course, the Knicks currently have Courtney Lee at shooting guard. Lee is under contract for the next three seasons. It would seem as if the Knicks are set there.
But some in the organization would like to try to make a run at trading for Minnesota’s Ricky Rubio in the offseason. Lee is one of the few players on New York’s roster with strong trade value at the moment, so he could be involved in any trade for Rubio or an additional first-round pick.