Pacers guard Brandon Rush (above), who attributes a torn ACL to an improper workout conducted by the New York Knicks, prior to his draft selection by Indiana.
Mike D’antoni doesn’t play bad rookies. Remember that one? Jordan Hill, whom the Knicks drafted 8th overall in the 2009 draft, and later packaged, begrudgingly, with their 2010 first round pick for Tracy McGrady and cap room which all the top tier free agents turned down, was apparently a bad rookie. One might glean such from D’antoni’s reaction to Hill’s statement after he had played his first game as a Rocket, after Hill was a monster on the boards and had just contributed to a Houston victory over New York. The reporters wanted to know why he thought he didn’t receive much of an opportunity on a terrible Knicks team. Hill said he didn’t think D’antoni liked playing rookies. D’antoni replied that he played rookies, “just not bad ones.”
Excuse us, but we were under the impression that Mike D’antoni had a say in that draft selection, much as he had a say the year before when the Knicks drafted D’antoni’s Italian boy toy, the object of his raampant lust, Danillo Galinari. Even if D’antoni was absent from the conversation with regard to the drafting of Hill, highly unlikely, the coach was still throwing his boss, Donnie Walsh, under the bus. Not a very nice thing to do considering that Walsh brought in D’antoni for a very generous $26.5M, topping his next best offer, from the very talented Chicago Bulls, by almost $10M.
Walsh candidly discussed his reluctance to part with Hill and the team’s most recent first round pick in summer interviews, where he went so far as to say that he had probably made a mistake. And Walsh discussed his hip replacement surgery (a bus ran him over, remember), and described how he had spent much of the preceeding months wheelchair bound. That must have gone over superbly with Lebron James and Dwayne Wade, when Walsh wheeled into the conference room to make the Knicks’ pitch of pitches.
So the 8th pick isn’t good enough, but apparently, the 38th pick is–as well as a nobody on nobody’s radar–rookie free agent big man Timofey Mozgov. D’antoni announced today that 2nd round pick Landry Fields (38th overall) had supplanted 6’9 Wilson Chandler, who is generally good for 15 ppg. At the same time, D’antoni also let us know that Mozgov would be the starting center. Who can recall for me a good team in the modern era who started s 2nd round draft pick, let alone, a 2nd round pick and undrafted rookie free agent?
Sure the Knicks suck. I mean, that is completely obvious. Even if they fielded the best possible team they could, which would probably see neither Fields nor Mozgov in their normal rotation, let alone, alotting them starters’ minutes. And by the way, we have been saying Chandler’s job was in trouble for some time, though we don’t understand why. When Walsh was whispering to backup free agent two guards like Shannon Brown and Roger Mason, whom the Knicks signed, permed hair and all, that Chandler’s job could be had, we understood quite clearly that the Depaul product’s days in New York were numbered. Though we have also heard this week that the Knicks have opened contract extension talks with Chandler. Devalue and then extend? That’s a rather contradictory management approach, but I guess they feel they have a better chance of signing Chandler than they did of getting Lebron James to come to the phone on a warm July night last summer.
Still, Hill and Chandler might come back and hurt the Knicks very badly, as the team’s latest scandal unfolds.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports broke news earlier today of former New York Knicks Director of East Coast scouting Rodney Heard conducting illegal pre-draft workouts in gymnasiums in Atlanta.These workout sessions allegedly took place before the 2007, 2009, and 2010 NBA drafts.
NBA rules allow teams only two workouts with players spaced three days apart. Teams are also not allowed to work out any players before the annual NBA pre-draft camp.
Prior to the 2007 draft, Heard supposedly used his relationship with Wilson Chandler‘s agent, Chris Luchey, to work work out with Chandler for weeks.
This certainly gave the Knicks an unfair advantage over other teams, as they had more exposure and direct access to Chandler to further evaluate his talent and potential at the NBA level. Chandler was generally regarded as a second-round pick coming into the draft and has since been one of the great picks of the 2007 class.
Wilson declined an invite to the NBA pre-draft camp in Orlando and canceled workouts with multiple teams prior to the draft. He scheduled seven workouts in the nine days leading up to the draft, and there were questions at the time as to whether or not he already had an understanding with a team as a guaranteed selection in the first round.
Now that this story has come to light, it’s all but certain that he had an agreement with the Knicks to forgo workouts with other teams with the assurance that he would be their pick at No. 23.
The man leading the front office—the man most likely responsible for those assurances—was none other than Isiah Thomas. Surprised? Well, you shouldn’t be.
This also helps to debunk the absurd notion that Thomas is an amazing evaluator of talent, as it appears that he has had an unfair advantage.
The man currently in charge, Donnie Walsh, has denied any knowledge or involvement in the illegal draft workout sessions supervised by Heard. Until a formal investigation uncovers the truth, we can only take him at his word.
The more intriguing story is that of Indiana Pacers guard Brandon Rush.
Rush—an All-American from Kansas who was projected as a high lottery pick in the 2007 draft—suffered a devastating ACL tear in his right knee during one of the workouts led by Heard. This injury and the six months of rehabilitation that followed forced him to pull out of the 2007 draft.
Confronted with these allegations, team president Donnie Walsh said this evening that he had no idea that any of this took place. Of course he didn’t. He’s too busy working his wheelchair.
I’m taking the Raptors tomorrow night, and saying a prayer that the Knicks will only be penalized cash and not draft picks for their latest transgression.