Knicks interested in Payne, consider trading down?

Jim Brown/USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks have the No. 4 pick in the upcoming NBA draft, but they will take a strong look at a player projected to be taken in the middle of the first round.

New York will work out Murray State’s Cameron Payne during the week of June 15, a league source confirmed.

League sources with knowledge of the team's thinking say the Knicks are doing more than their due diligence by working out Payne; they are “serious” about considering him in the draft, those sources say.

Payne is widely viewed as a player who will be taken in the middle-to-late first round. So the Knicks’ interest in Payne and, to a lesser degree, their interest in Willie Cauley-Stein, is a sign that they are at least considering trading down from No. 4.

Both Knicks president Phil Jackson and GM Steve Mills have said that the organization would consider all of its options with the pick, including the possibility of trading down.

New York has four trade exceptions worth between $5.9 million and $1.8 million. Those exceptions can be used in a trade to obtain a player with a commensurate salary.

So the Knicks could potentially take back a player making as much as $5.9 million in a trade.

Their interest in Payne makes sense because of the guard's exceptional sophomore season at Murray State in 2014-15.

As ESPN’s Kevin Pelton notes, Payne was one of three players in the country -- and the only underclassman -- to average at least 20 points (20.1) and five assists (6.0) per game.

Payne has a strong pull-up jumper and has shown an ability to create in the pick-and-roll.

As ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla points out, Payne is a stellar passer. He was responsible for 40 percent of his team’s assists when he was on the floor.

ESPN’s Chad Ford has the Pacers selecting Payne with the 11th pick in his latest mock draft.

The Knicks will get a first-hand look at Payne in two weeks and will get a closer look at other top players in the draft starting on Monday.

New York will work out Duke forward Justise Winslow on Monday and top point guard Emmanuel Mudiay on Tuesday.

They will work out Cauley-Stein, a center whom league sources insist is “in the conversation” when it comes to players the Knicks may draft, on June 16.

The Knicks' workout with Payne was first reported by Yahoo.