Knicks Rumors: Okafor, Russell, Bledsoe

Team president Phil Jackson has given up hope that Duke’s Jahlil Okafor will fall to the Knicks with the No. 4 pick in Thursday’s draft, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Jackson doesn’t talk much to other teams, Berman notes, but he has a connection to the Lakers through fiancée and team co-owner Jeanie Buss. Los Angeles holds the second pick and is believed to be interested in the Duke center. The Knicks have not held a workout with Okafor.

There’s more draft news from New York City:

  • In the same article, Bobby Marks, who spent 20 years as an executive with the Nets, says the Knicks should celebrate if Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russell is available at No. 4. “I don’t look at him as a young kid who could take a couple years,’’ Marks said. “Put him on the court right now and let him play. If he fell to 4, you take him, unplug your phone and call it a night.’’ Kentucky’s Karl-Anthony Towns and Okafor are widely expected to be the first two players selected. Up third are the Sixers, who reportedly are considering Latvian Kristaps Porzingis as well as Russell. Berman writes that another team, such as Orlando, could trade up to take Porzingis, which would also benefit the Knicks.
  • New York is giving serious consideration to trading its first-round pick, according to Al Iannazzone of Newsday. The Knicks reportedly aren’t sold on any of the talent available after Towns, Okafor and Russell and think they can do just as well if they trade down in the draft. “This is a draft that everybody feels like, in the lottery, from 1 through 14, there’s really good players, and a lot of good players that will be there in the later part of the first round, too,” Jackson said. “History tells us that 1 through 10 usually indicates that you’re going to get a starter at some level.”
  • The Knicks should try to move the No. 4 pick to the Suns for Eric Bledsoe, writes Jeff Jarboe of Bledsoe signed a five-year, $70MM contract with Phoenix last summer after months of contentious negotiations.

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