June 14, 2006 -- Though the soap opera buffs will wonder if Larry Brown and Isiah Thomas will have it out this morning when they reconvene at the Westchester practice facility for more pre-draft workouts, diehard Knick fans may care more about whom they might select at 20 and 29 in the June 28 draft.
The Knicks will get a clearer picture today and tomorrow. A group of four, headed by 19-year-old Ukrainian 7-footer Oleksiy Pecherov, will work out today for the lame-duck Brown and his lame-duck assistant staff as the charade continues. Brown was scheduled to helicopter in from the Hamptons.
The Brown-Isiah-James Dolan sitcom has overshadowed the Knicks' draft interests. Indications are they've zeroed in on Memphis small forward Shawne Williams, Temple sturdy guard Mardy Collins - who's compared to Aaron McKie - Michigan State shooting guard Shannon Brown, Michigan State combo guard Maurice Ager and UConn power forward Hilton Armstrong, of Peekskill, for their 20th pick.
At 29, the Knicks have heavy interest in UConn junior 6-10 shot-blocker Josh Boone. A rumor running around Storrs is the Knicks gave Boone a commitment at 29. Last week, Boone, a solid shot-blocker with little offensive game, announced he would remain in the draft, leading to speculation he got a first-round guarantee.
Pecherov, who's a terrific outside shooter, is an enigma. The mock drafts, which have him going between 15 and 20, like him more than many scouts, who claim he's not a good enough rebounder/shotblocker. A team that takes him in the middle of the first round likely would keep him in Europe an extra year so he can bulk up his upper body. In late April, Thomas saw Pecherov play in Paris for Paris Basketball Racing, which is owned by Connecticut-based agent Marc Fleisher.
The Knicks may be looking at him more for their 29th pick if Boone is gone. The Knicks believe small forward is their biggest need and it's why they are hoping Williams drops to 20, which is no certainty. They don't need another guard, but that's where this draft is deepest.
Thomas knows he needs more defenders on the roster, so Collins could be an intriguing pick. Collins, Brown, Ager all worked out for the Knicks. Today, guard Mike Gansey (West Virginia), 6-10 forward Damir Markota (Sarajevo) and guard Donnie McGrath (Providence) will also work out.