LOS ANGELES -- Though the Knicks likely will take a combo-type guard in the June 25 NBA Draft, Knicks team president Donnie Walsh will eye a center with his $5 million mid-level exception during free agency, and Orlando's 7-foot backup Marcin Gortat is very high on his list, The Post has learned.
The Knicks had no interior defensive presence, and that's Gortat's strength. He also blocks shots and rebounds. (The Knicks were last in blocked shots the past two years).
The Polish big man originally was drafted by coach Mike D'Antoni's Suns in the second round of 2005, but they traded his rights. Gortat probably will not be re-signed because he plays a smallish role as Dwight Howard's backup and the Magic can't pay him accordingly.
Gortat said the Knicks could be an ideal spot. Gortat (four points, three rebounds) played 15 minutes last night as Magic coach Stan Van Gundy often used a twin-tower alignment to combat the Lakers' size.
Magic general manager Otis Smith can match any offer, but said he knows it will be a financial challenge to retain Gortat.
"I'll just deal with it and the market will dictate where he goes," Smith added. "I would like to keep him on our team, but it depends if someone wants to make him a starter and figures out what's my breaking point. I'm sure teams will make a run for him."
"I love New York, I can tell you that," Gortat said. "It was the first city I landed when I landed in the states five years ago. I love Coach D'Antoni and I know [Danilo] Gallinari from Europe."
ABC's Mark Jackson still has coaching on his radar. The commentator recently hired an agent -- CAA -- to help his search. Jackson did not get any interviews during this offseason.
"I look forward to making that guy who has the courage to pull the trigger, I'm looking forward to making him look awfully good," Jackson said
Gortat, curry, jackson....possibly 3 big additions to the knicks
I like gortat, he's a gritty player who can block shots. and we all know that i favor curry at the 6th pick and it looks like he''ll be here in ny if he's still available.
trade q for a late first round pick, and package lee and jefferies for darko, conley and a second rounder or cash. If curry comes back in shape, trade him by all-star break for camby who will find it hard to get minutes from randolph, kaman and their draft pick.
this way we remain competitive, have a crazy shooting team, gortat and lee on da boards...darko and gortat blocking shots...and we get rid of eddy curry and jefferies and q-brick and save moeny for 2010