New York Knicks: NBPA Head Takes Another Swipe At Phil Jackson
Apr 6, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks general manager Phil Jackson watches during the second quarter against the Washington Wizards at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA Draft Combine is underway, and naturally, there’s plenty of news and rumors about the New York Knicks.

The 2017 NBA Draft Combine is a big deal for the New York Knicks. Despite many of the top prospects blowing off this week’s showcase, it was important for the Knicks to have a strong presence in Chicago.

According to Ian Begley of ESPN New York, that’s the case. President of Basketball Operations Phil Jackson, widely ridiculed for his laziness in the past, is in Chicago with his team. He’s reportedly spoken to top point guards De’Aaron Fox and Markelle Fultz.

The Knicks are unlikely to be in a position to select Fultz, but they could get a little lucky if De’Aaron Fox were to fall to them. He’s currently projected as a top-five pick as well.

Ian Begley reports that members of the Knicks organization have become fond of Fox, Malik Monk, and Frank Ntilikina. Not a surprise. Most people are.

ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla and Jeff Goodman offered their two cents on all three prospects.

Fraschilla says that Ntilikina is a fit for the Knicks, but for the wrong reason.

“And what I love about him — and by the way, I think he’s going to be able to show you — I hate to say this because I’m not a fan of the triangle, I think in the modern NBA the spacing doesn’t work as well as it did in the old days, but he’s a triangle kind of player, simply because he’s not really a 1, and he’s not really a 2. He’s a guard.

So, Phil Jackson is probably a fan of the 18-year-old international prospect.

Fraschilla talked about Fox’s ceiling and the remarkable comparisons to John Wall. They share one primary trait. Neither one of them has ever had to be a great shooter.

Wall was able to get by on his speed and athleticism early in his career. It should be the same for Fox.

“I just would say quickly that obviously De’Aaron Fox’s speed and athleticism, given the way the NBA game is at the moment — that’s going to trump the fact that he has to continue to improve his shot,” Fraschilla said. “But I’m sure Jeff has talked to the same type of scouts who say, you cannot, in this modern NBA, teach his speed and athleticism, and unlike some of the non-shooting point guards in the league that are — actually hurt their team, he is probably — you could safely compare him to a young John Wall because of the same attributes. But it’ll help him — it’s not in his DNA to be a great shooter, because he’s never had to be, but it certainly helps him in his NBA future down the road if he continues to figure out a way to make some shots, but the speed and athleticism will get him drafted, obviously, in the top five or six.

Goodman talked about Fox’s NCAA Tournament run. Nobody benefited more from March Madness than Fox.

He took Kentucky to the Elite 8 and notched 85 total points in four games on 50.0 percent shooting.

“I think he’s only helped by his character, too. I mean, high-character kid, shined when it mattered in the NCAA tournament, for the most part. I think you’re looking at a guy who’s certainly going to go in the top 10 and could go as high as 5.”

Fraschilla compared Monk to ex-Knick Jamal Crawford and said he’ll make an excellent Sixth Man.

He also pointed out the biggest knock on Monk: His size and below-average wingspan. Always with draft prospects and the wingspan.

The 19-year-old can be much better on offense than the skilled shooter he already is.

“I wish he was 6-5 and not 6-3 with an average swing span, because for me the poster child for Malik Monk is what Jamal Crawford has done in his career. I think Malik, once he settles into his NBA career, is going to be a scorer off the bench,” Fraschilla said. “I know he probably wouldn’t want to hear that, but he is a — he is still a volume shooter. He had the ultimate green light in high school. He had a green light at Kentucky. It actually hurt them at times. He can put the ball in the basket. There’s no doubt about it. But the fact that he’s undersized, with a below-average wingspan for the position, he is going to have to become what I call a technician. He is really going to have to work on NBA footwork, creating space and separation. It’s all there for him because when you draft these guys nowadays, for the most part, they’re NBA Silly Putty. You get to mold them with your coaching staff. You know, I like him. His NBA future to me is a lead off-the-bench scorer.”

Fraschilla was also asked which Wildcat he thought was a better fit for the triangle. An offense he admitted he didn’t like.

His answer wasn’t surprising. If the Knicks insist on running the triangle, which they unfortunately do, the point guard would be a better fit.

“I think you have to have a certain type of versatility and skill level to play in the triangle. De’Aaron is going to be able to fit most systems because of his speed,” he said. “I mean, it just doesn’t make sense to walk the ball up the court in the modern NBA into a half-court triangle set, so he’s going to be able to adjust. But you do have to have a certain type of versatility in my opinion to play in the pure triangle because everybody is interchangeable; you have to play multiple positions within the triangle, and that would cater to Frank’s versatility versus De’Aaron’s speed in the NBA game. But again, if you’re not running in the NBA and trying to get easy baskets, you’re probably not a playoff team.”

Elite Sports NY’s Charles Hart told us about Kristaps Porzingis‘ brother’s interview with ESPN. Janis Porzingis says his brother wishes “for the Knicks to create an environment where he can develop and grow as a player and win.” Good luck with that.

Elite Sports NY’s Robbie Stratakos praised shooting guard Courtney Lee for his elite three-and-D play but said the Knicks should explore trades for the veteran.

I'm ESNY's Executive Editor for I cover the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets. Email: Chip Murphy covers the NBA for Elite Sports NY. You can find him on Twitter @ChipperMurphy.