His stock is low, but Knicks’ interest is high.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the No. 2 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft who has established himself as a defensive specialist, is on the Knicks’ free-agent radar when the market opens a few days after Nov. 18th’s draft.
Tom Thibodeau is a defensive-minded coach and president Leon Rose wants to create a roster that fits his big coaching hire.
According to sources, the Knicks also view the player known as “MKG” as a solid locker room guy. However, Kidd-Gilchrist wouldn’t address the Knicks desire to improve their outside shooting.
The 6-foot-6 forward is a smart player who could learn Thibodeau’s system fast, with training camp rushed up to start Dec. 1.
Kidd-Gilchrist is a University of Kentucky product and played for new Knicks assistant Kenny Payne, another thing working in his favor. Knicks senior VP William Wesley is also very close to the Kentucky program, when he was an agent consultant for Creative Artists Agency (CAA).
Kidd-Gilchrist, too, is repped by CAA, which Rose ran until last March. Opposing teams believe Rose may lean toward CAA guys, partly because of his friendships with their reps.
Over past two seasons, the 27-year-old Kidd-Gilchrist fell from grace in Charlotte. Last season, he was out of coach James Borrego’s rotation, playing just in 12 games. On the final year of his 4-year, $52 million deal, he was waived after the trade deadline in Feb. 8th.
Michael Jordan was enamored by his two-way ability when Charlotte picked him in 2012, but scouts say his game has not grown enough. He would indeed be something of a reclamation project if they sign him.
The Mavericks signed Kidd-Gilchrist in February, but he didn’t make enough of an impact in the Orlando bubble, and sources say Dallas is leaning towards letting hi walk.
When the Mavericks inked him, ex-Knick Kristaps Porzingis said, “He’s a good defender. He’s gonna give us that energy, that spark on defense.”
Kidd-Gilchrist played 13 regular-season games for the Mavericks and averaged 9 minutes. He had arrived late to the Orlando bubble, but the Mavericks still used him at times in the playoffs as a stopper against Clippers superstar Kawhi Leonard.
The Knicks would view him as a bench player who would address some of their defensive shortcomings if they can sign him to a modest deal.
The Knicks still plan to pursue ex-Knick Carmelo Anthony even if they can’t pull off a trade for his buddy Chris Paul. The Post has reported Anthony would be eager to join the Knicks if they land Paul.
Ironically, the Knicks also have interest in Auburn small forward Isaac Okoro in the draft, who has been compared to Kidd-Gilchrist as a strong wing defender, but lacks a solid outside shot.
The Knicks have no plans to re-sign free agent small forward Mo Harkless, who came in the Marcus Morris deal with the Clippers in February that also netted the Knicks the 27th pick in the draft.
Harkless was one of just two players who didn’t attend the Knicks’ “Delete 8’’ OTAs, along with Reggie Bullock, who stayed away because his girlfriend is expecting twins this month.
If the Knicks don’t retain Bullock, who has a team option at $4 million, they would be even thinner at small forward.
During his best season in 2014-15, Kidd-Gilchrist averaged 10.9 points and 7.6 rebounds.
The Knicks could have room to sign a max player and then field a room exception worth $5 million. They still want to address their point-guard issues in free agency, with Toronto’s Fred Van Vleet by far the best one to hit the market.
The Knicks like Van Vleet a lot, but there’s an argument against offering him a max deal. Some league sources believe Van Vleet is more prone to shine on an established team than being the lone star – as he would be on the Knicks.
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