It’s been a quiet month in Cuse Country, and frankly it’s going to continue to be quiet over the summer, most likely. I do owe you news on the overseas guys, which hopefully will come early next week before the holiday. But for tonight we are focused on two fine Orange gentlemen who are about to get paid.
The top few picks of this year’s NBA Draft were known well in advance of the event itself. The Washington Post has been running stories about John Wall since at least Sunday. The Sixers, therefore, knew beyond a shadow that they’d be grabbing Evan Turner. And although rumors had arisen a couple days ago that the Nets might take Wes Johnson, this afternoon reports came across the wire that New Jersey had decided on Derrick Favors after all. Which left Wes to simply leap into the waiting arms of the Minnesota Timberwolves, who had been coveting his services all along. And he did.
The Wes Johnson stories just about write themselves, and you’ve read them all, so we won’t go over that same ground here. And the Wes-plus-Jonny Minnesota angle has also been played all over the media. Assuming no further trades (which are not out of the question, especially if Rubio decides to come play for Minny which could make Jonny expendable) the main thing this accomplishes is that I have one less NBA team than I otherwise might have whose boxscores I need to check. It’s the SU fan’s perspective that I’m interested in.
I’m actually a little disappointed Wes didn’t go to New Jersey. Their franchise is, I believe, moving in a much better direction. They have a new billionaire owner who is going to put a lot of money into the team (supposedly) and should soon be moving to Brooklyn. Plus they play on the YES network which would keep Wes on the televisions of Central New York nightly. Minnesota on the other hand is like NBA purgatory. Since they lost Kevin Garnett they have been consistently awful. They get little media exposure — Wes’ Broadway smile is going to go to waste out there. I don’t know enough about the triangle offense that Rambis has installed to say whether Wes will fit in it properly; I do know that Jonny does not fit in it properly. The T-Wolves are approaching Clippers territory, and it’s too bad that they keep snapping up SU’s best and brightest. Two of the most talented players to come through the program — and two of the most genial personalities too. Jonny and Wes are the smilingest guys we’ve had recently (I guess to counterbalance Arinze) and in the right media market would be lighting up the cameras. Oh well.
As for Andy Rautins, first of all, holy crap. Picked at #38, about 20 spots higher than he had been projected in mock drafts (if he was projected at all). Picked ahead of talents such as DaSean Butler and
Kevin Eubanks Devin Ebanks of WVU, Willie Warren from Oklahoma (who was projected near the lottery after his freshman year last year but returned to school), and even the undrafted Scottie Reynolds. Not to mention a bunch of serviceable big men (cough Harangody cough) who are often favored in the later rounds. Incredible.
What is even better for Andy is the team that picked him. The freaking Knicks! Talk about being on TV in CNY every night. Madison Square. And that’s all great. But here is the absolute best thing about being picked by the Knicks:
THEY ONLY HAVE FOUR PLAYERS ON THEIR ROSTER RIGHT NOW.
I’m completely serious. Here is the Knicks roster currently under contract for next season:
Eddy Curry (who doesn’t ever play and is simply taking up salary cap space until next year)
They have options on a couple bench guys (Bill Walker and JR Giddens), but that’s about it. They could make an offer to Sergio Rodriguez to make him a restricted free agent. But they won’t, because they are hunting for big-time free agents, particularly the one who rhymes with JeLon Brames, and need the cap space. But no matter who they are, or are not, able to sign when free agency gets going next month, they are going to need 15 players eventually. This is the best type of situation for a second-round pick. Second-rounders, as you know, do not get guaranteed contracts. So if you get picked in the second round, you hope to be chosen by a team that needs players. And the Knicks fit that description better than any team in recent memory. Furthermore, New York didn’t even have a first-round pick this year — Andy was the first player they drafted. They then took Stanford forward Landry Fields with the very next pick — and that was it.
All this boils down to the fact that Andy Rautins is all but assured to make the Knicks’ roster this season. They will of course have a flood of non-roster invitees to their summer league and training camp, but the fact that they picked Andy, and picked him so highly, shows that they really feel good about his chances of making an impact next season. He’ll be their top rookie in camp. He’s going to get the main chunk of the media attention this week; I bet his photo is on the front page of Knicks.com already. (Update: it is.) Until the actual free-agent period gets underway, he’s the story. I can’t imagine a better result for Andy, once you consider that there was no way he’d go in the first round. In fact, if he hadn’t gotten drafted I’d be in this space right now suggesting that he get into camp with the Knicks if at all possible. New York is the land of opportunity this season. And, seeing as how the Knicks are the #1 NBA team in CNY, from the local fan’s perspective this is awesome news as well. We’ll be watching him on MSG all winter long.
Let’s hope they don’t trade him to the Kings or some shit.