Knicks rookie center Josh Harrellson envisions himself as a Kendrick Perkins/Dennis Rodman type.
But the 6-10, 270-pounder from Kentucky knows the NBA lockout didn’t help his cause this season, with the cancellation of the rookie summer league in Las Vegas and being unable to work out with Knicks coaches until this week.
“Since we didn’t have summer league and training camp was just two weeks, I’m a couple of steps behind where I should be at this point,’’ Harrellson said. “With not being able to get the coaching I needed at this point, hopefully I can come here, keep my ears open and watch the veteran guys and pick it up quicker. Hopefully I can come in and make an impact, getting rebounds, playing defense, loose balls and do little things, so our All-Star players won’t have to.’’
Harrellson was selected in the second round by New Orleans in June. The Hornets, owned by the NBA, traded his rights to the Knicks for $1 million. It may be the only trade the Knicks and Hornets are able to pull off.
Voluntary workouts without coaches began last Thursday, with Harrellson showing up Monday. Training camp will begin tentatively Friday but it could be pushed back to Monday if the collective bargaining agreemtn isn’t officially ratified.
Harrellson spent the lockout at Kentucky, working out with potential No. 1 pick Anthony Davis plus former Kentucky players DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson, John Wall and Rajon Rondo. Even LeBron James and Rudy Gay showed up for some run with the Wildcats.
“I think we have the best facilities in the world at Kentucky,’’ said Harrellson, whose nickname is “Jorts’ because of his penchant for wearing jean shorts. “They did a lot for me to get drafted. I got the best trainers there and got to work out for free.’’
Harrellson said Knicks fans can expect a grinding, tough-guy center but he may not play much this season. Center is their thinnest position and is a focus of free agency, with Jeff Foster and Kurt Thomas their top choices.
“I’m a lot like Kendrick Perkins, Dennis Rodman type player,’’ Harrellson said. “I’m tough and I’m going to do the little things, offensive rebounds, going to play good defense, take charges. The little things that those two did to make their teams successful: Kendrick at Boston, Rodman for the Bulls (and Pistons). The little things those guys did to make championships teams better.’’
Harrellson, despite his size, feels he can handle Mike D’Antoni’s speedball attack.
“At Kentucky we liked to play up-tempo basketball, get points in transition,’’ Harrellson said. “I was able to run up and down the court last year as good as (any big man) in the nation. That’s what I’m trying to get back to at this level: being able to do same thing and outwork people I play against.’’
No new faces were at the Knicks' Westchester facility Tuesday. Andy Rautins, who broke his nose playing for Team Canada at the FIBA Americas Championship; Landry Fields, Iman Shumpert, Carmelo Anthony and Toney Douglas are the only arrivals.
Have his teammates been calling Harrellson “Jorts’’?
"Not yet,’’ said Harrellson, who has a cult following at Kentucky. “Hopefully we’ll get them going.’’