Knicks 7-foot center Jerome Jordan thought he was ready for the NBA this past season, but former president Donnie Walsh didn't sign him, wanting him to develop in Serbia.
So imagine how their 2010 second-round acquisition feels about next season, about being the center complement up front to Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony.
In an interview from Serbia yesterday, Jordan told The Post: "Being drafted by this team in their situation, they need a big guy and I look forward to helping that need.
"Coming out of college last year, I thought I could play minutes right away. It worked out," he added. "I came over here, got game experience and went up against more physical and skilled players than in college. I played against tough players over here and I'm ready to contribute to an NBA team."
The Knicks obtained Jordan on draft night last June -- an under-the-radar midnight maneuver. The Bucks took Jordan with the 44th pick in the second round and traded him to the Knicks for cash.
The Post has learned James Dolan forked over $1 million for Jordan -- a sizable investment.
Jordan, who played at Tulsa and is nicknamed the "Jamaican Hurricane," underwent surgery three weeks ago after his appendix ruptured and is sitting out the Hemofarm playoff run. Next week, the season will be over, and he will head to New York to meet with the Knicks staff. It is likely he won't work out for the team upon doctor's orders, but the Knicks staff want to get to be around him before the expected July 1 lockout hits.
According to a source, the Knicks are not expected to sign Jordan until after the lockout ends, figuring the new CBA will be more favorable to the team. But plans are in place for him to be in the rotation next season because of his low-post skill, size and ability to block shots -- with Glen Grunwald likely still in place as interim president.
The day after the Anthony trade in February, coach Mike D'Antoni and Walsh held a press conference and, unsolicited, they each mentioned Jordan. That's how desperate the Knicks were for a big guy after the roster-ravaging trade cost them 7-footer Timofey Mozgov.
"In my conversations, they have high expectations for him," Jordan's agent, Todd Ramasar, told The Post. "It's pretty obvious where the Knicks are with players signed in the frontcourt. That plan will carry through [without Donnie]. Donnie's staff all share the sentiment."
The Knicks have not had a lot of success with 7-foot centers named Jerome (see James), but they have had success with a 7-foot center from Kingston, Jamaica -- Patrick Ewing. Jordan is also from Kingston, didn't move to the United States until age 17 when he first took up organized basketball in Melbourne, Fla.
"I never met Patrick before," Jordan said. "Growing up, I heard about him and the older people who watch basketball when he played with the Knicks love him."
The Knicks probably won't get a center in the draft and hope to land a big man during free agency but have no cap space. Jordan saw a lot of Knicks game on the Internet and Serbian TV and knows D'Antoni's offense.
"I do a little bit of everything," Jordan said. "On the defensive end, shotblocking, rebounding. On the offensive end, a low-post scorer who can pick and roll. So I should fit in. They like up-tempo and pick-and-rolls and that's where I score most of my points."
Jordan, who got off to a slow start for Hemofarm, averaged 7.8 points and 4.5 rebound in 15 minutes a game. The Knicks could have signed Jordan and put him in the D-League where he may have played more, but that would have cost them their 15th and final roster spot, which eventually was filled by Shawne Williams.
"It helped a lot to come over, and get game experience which I need for the future," Jordan said. "It was a different route but now I'm ready."
The Knicks will work out today College of Charleston's sweet-shooting guard Andrew Goudelouck, whom they could take if they buy a second-rounder, which they likely will do. According to a source, Georgia Tech point guard Iman Shumpert, who is very much on radar, will work out tomorrow.