WALSH EYES MAYO SWAP
June 25, 2008 --
The Knicks New York Knicks have polled NBA personnel the past few days, trying to figure out the chances of USC combo guard O.J. Mayo falling to them at six.
With the chances slim, Knick president Donnie Walsh is exploring ways of swapping picks with Memphis at No. 5 or Minnesota at No. 3, according to a league source, with their goal of drafting Mayo.
Walsh believes Mayo can play point guard and has deemed him the best player after Derrick Rose and Michael Beasley.
According ESPN.com, the Knicks even discussed a trade with Memphis about acquiring the fifth pick altogether, in dealing popular David Lee David Lee and Malik Rose for Brian Cardinal, who has two years left on his pact.
Cardinal's addition would not effect the Knicks' goal of moving under the salary cap by 2010. That trade likely would be contingent on Mayo being available at 5.
When asked yesterday about trading up or back, Walsh said, "I don't know if it's going to be available. It depends on how the draft goes to know if I want to do that."
Asked if anything were close, including a Memphis trade, Walsh said, "You have to ask the other guy. It takes two to tango. We have no deals right now. We have so many discussions. I don't want to get into specific ones."
Walsh met the press after a scouting meeting during which different trade scenarios were discussed. He has never made a draft-night deal with a first-round pick in 22 drafts, but coach Mike D'Antoni has wheeled his first-rounder the last four drafts.
Walsh appears worried one of the PGs he likes won't be there at No. 6. Sources indicate the Knicks no longer are interested in Arizona combo guard Jerryd Bayless. But they still pine for UCLA PG Russell Westbrook, an athletic, explosive penetrator who's a solid defender, and Indians sharpshooting combo guard Eric Gordon.
Westbrook could go to Seattle at No. 4. Meanwhile, Gordon is more shooting guard than PG.
"People in front of us have control over [the guys we want]," Walsh said. "It's real confusing. Point guards, they can all be gone by [No. 6]."
As for the purest PG in the draft, the 5-10 D.J. Augustin, the Knicks appear to deem him too small to take a chance on at No. 6. ESPN draft analyst Jay Bilas said yesterday if he needed a PG, he'd take Augustin over Bayless and Westbrook.
Walsh said he won't be devastated if he doesn't come away with a PG.
"This is the first step to the offseason," Walsh said, referring to free agency.
"There are other steps. If the right person is available, you look at the position. If the person isn't available, you don't."
If the Knicks can't trade up for Mayo and the right PG isn't there at 6, Walsh could take the 6-10 Italian Stallion, Dino Gallinari, or 6-10 LSU freshman Anthony Randolph, a project with a big upside.