Commentary

It could get late early for Knicks

Walsh may pick after Stern goes home, but he's got money and options. Stick around!

Updated: June 24, 2010, 4:24 PM ET
By Chris Sheridan | ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- Using the past as our guide, we can expect draft night for the New York Knicks to go as follows:

Half the crowd in the Madison Square Garden theater will be gone, and commissioner David Stern will be in the back of his limo, halfway to Scarsdale, by the time deputy commissioner Adam Silver strides onstage with his gleeful grin and announces, amid howls ...

"With the 38th pick in the 2010 NBA draft, the New York Knicks select ..."

And that's where the predictability likely will end (unless Craig Brackins of Iowa State is still on the board).

The Knicks will make their selection, it'll probably be a big guy, and the roster that has been gutted by Donnie Walsh in his pursuit of LeBron James will have acquired a sixth live body to be placed alongside Eddy Curry, Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Toney Douglas and Bill Walker.

Two minutes later, the process will repeat itself as New York chooses 39th, too.

Then there will be seven members of the New York Knicks. And in all likelihood, those will be the seven that James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and/or Amare Stoudemire will pass judgment on once July 1 rolls around and those four marquee free agents, along with others, decide where their basketball and free-agency futures will take them.

"We feel there are about 40 players who are good enough to go anywhere between 20 and 40," Walsh said before the Knicks began bringing in several of those players for workouts behind the closed gym doors at the team's practice facility in Greenburgh.

Walsh has not tipped his hand since then, but it is a well-known fact around the league that Walsh is willing to offer $3 million to anyone who wants to surrender a low first-round pick (as he did last year when New York purchased the Lakers' pick and selected Douglas). Walsh's access to owner Jim Dolan's wallet will extend through the end of the second round, where there are teams with extra picks (Lakers, Nos. 43 and 56; Phoenix, Nos. 46 and 60) who also have heavy luxury tax payments coming due and who might not mind using Cablevision's dinero to help pay the tab.

Teams have been asking a minimum of $1.5 million for those spare second-rounders (in addition to the Lakers and Suns, Minnesota also has two, Nos. 45 and 56, and Milwaukee has three, Nos. 37, 44 and 47), and the price of doing business in the second round went up on Monday when the Portland Trail Blazers spent a whopping $2 million to switch places with Golden State in the second round, moving from 44th to 34th (the Warriors then dealt that 44th pick to Milwaukee as part of Tuesday's Corey Maggette trade).

Whether the draft rights to a certain player will be worth that kind of money will be determined by Walsh (and Dolan), but a mitigating factor that might make them a little more free-spending is that New York's luxury tax bill for last season was only $5.2 million -- a fraction of what the Knicks paid during most seasons over the past decade as the high-salaried likes of Jalen Rose, Steve Francis, Stephon Marbury et al came and went.

And since players chosen in the second round do not impact a team's salary-cap space, Walsh can afford to be a bit of a free spender on Thursday night, knowing whatever purchases he makes in the second round will not impact the $36 million in cap room he has squirreled away for use after July 1.

With those factors in mind, here's a look at a handful of players the Knicks wouldn't mind seeing fall into their lap at Nos. 38 and 39:

[+] EnlargeDamion James
AP Photo/Harry CabluckIf the Knicks draft this former Texas forward, they'll have at least one James on the roster.

Brackins: The 6-foot-10 Iowa State junior fills the Knicks' No. 1 need: size. And it also doesn't hurt that he is relatively old, 22, for a college junior. Most mock drafts predict Brackins being picked at the end of the first round, but his reputation as an underachiever could cause him to drop.

Damion James, SF, Texas: Another 22-year-old, James is the quintessential energy and hustle player who rebounded the ball well for a player of his size, 6-8, and who has an explosive 37-inch vertical leap. Again, it'd be a surprise if he fell as far as No. 38. But if he did, at least the Knicks would be assured of having one player with the name "James" stitched on the back of his jersey.

Dominique Jones, SG, South Florida: A combo guard with a polished offensive game that includes NBA 3-point range, his toughness, court smarts and long arms make him extra intriguing to the Knicks' hierarchy, which would prefer to bring in older rookies rather than rolling the dice on an 18- or 19-year-old with big upside.

Lazar Hayward, SF, Marquette: This 23-year old usually played power forward, despite being only 6-6. But he showed a sweet 3-point shot from NBA range during the Big East tournament at MSG, and his fundamentals and his athleticism both rank high.

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