Adam Zagoria, Team ReporterThe Knicks don’t own a first-round pick in the June 26 NBA Draft, but that isn’t stopping them from working out players projected to go in the first 30 picks.
On Thursday, the Knicks are set to work out PJ Hairston, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard from North Carolina and the Texas Legends of the D-League.
“He will be working out for them,” Juan Morrow, Hairston’s agent, told SNY.tv and The Knicks Blog by phone. “He’s just going through the triangle offense with Phil [Jackson].”
Hairston is projected to go at No. 24 to the Charlotte Hornets — for whom he worked out on Wednesday — but Morrow says his client could go even higher.
“We’re looking between 9 and 17,” Morrow said.
“I don’t really pay attention to mock drafts and that stuff,” Hairston told the Charlotte Observer. “I just kind of come out and try to play my hardest every day and show what I can do.”
The Knicks would likely have to trade their way into the first round for Hairston after they surrendered their first-round pick in the Carmelo Anthony trade.
Jackson previously said he was looking into acquiring a second-round pick, possibly from Philadelphia or Milwaukee.
As for Hairston, he averaged 21.8 points and 3.5 rebounds in 26 games last year in the D-League. That came after North Carolina dismissed him from the team in December for accepting improper benefits, including rental cars from convicted felon Fats Thomas.
“It’s the past,” Hairston told the Charlotte Observer. “I’m just thankful for this opportunity, that these teams let me come work out and be able to join the great players at the NBA Combine. Just being able to be here is one of the biggest things for me.”
Hairston has also worked out for Chicago, Miami, Phoenix and Boston and heads to Philadelphia June 11, Morrow said.
“Of course he has an interesting story,” Morrow said, “the route that we had to take but he’s going to shock a lot of people in this draft.”
There’s just one problem: The Knicks do not own any draft selections, let alone one in the first round. Without much skin in the (draft) game, what’s in it for Hairston to work out for the team?
When Jackson came calling, Morrow wasn’t one to resist the legend’s request. But such a workout isn’t simply one out of pure respect either, as the agent is confident the Knicks will be making necessary changes, perhaps en route to acquiring a first or second rounder.
“Anytime you have a great mind like Phil Jackson say he wants to work out a kid, I’m sure he’ll be making some moves around it. I’m not sure what moves he’ll make, but I’m pretty sure he’ll shake that team up and get it in winning format,” Morrow further told The Knicks Blog and SNY.tv.
Having succeeded on the D-League level last season, one could argue that the professional transition to the NBA will be much easier for Hairston.
“I can almost assure you, that PJ will shut it down in New York,” Morrow added.