Knicks Rumors: Latest Buzz on LaMelo Ball's Draft Approach, Front Office

Theo SalaunContributor IIIMay 19, 2020

LaMelo Ball of the Illawarra Hawks, left, lays up around Andrew Bogut of the Sydney Kings during their game in the Australian Basketball League in Sydney, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)
Rick Rycroft/Associated Press

Ahead of the 2019-20 season, Steve Mills was president of the New York Knicks, and RJ Barrett was the team's third overall pick and presumptive franchise guard. 

Heading into 2020-21, New York has a new front office and could have a new cornerstone point guard too.

With Leon Rose taking over as team president, dominos are beginning to fall within Madison Square Garden's overarching departments. The latest rumored addition is the Utah Jazz's longtime scout and vice president of player personnel, Walt Perrin, as reported by The Athletic and Stadium's Shams Charania.

Shams Charania @ShamsCharania

Sources: The Knicks are finalizing hiring Jazz VP of Player Personnel Walt Perrin as assistant general manager as they reshuffle front office under Leon Rose. Perrin is a well-respected executive who has worked in Jazz organization for 19 years.

Among his first orders of business will be the decision New York faces with what should be a high selection for the presently 21-45 team in this year's draft. The Knicks have about five point guards under roster right now, but LaMelo Ball is still under consideration.

As reported by the NY Post's Marc Berman, some expect that "the Ball camp will try to steer the 18-year-old point guard to the Knicks."

It's unclear exactly how the Ball camp hopes to "steer" Ball toward New York, but should the lottery fall in the Knicks' favor, the ship may already be setting sail in that direction.

Perrin will be New York's assistant general manager after 19 years scouting for the Jazz. During that tenure, he helped the team draft All-Stars Deron Williams, Paul Millsap, Rudy Gobert, Gordon Hayward and, most recently, Donovan Mitchell.

Mitchell was incredible value with the 13th selection in the 2017 draft. New York should have a higher selection than that this offseason but will have similar hopes for a cornerstone player.

At present, the Knicks have a nine-plus percent chance to get any of the top four picks, but a 29.8 percent chance to pick seventh. If luck is on Rose's side, his first NBA team could select early enough to nab Ball—who has made a name for himself despite playing outside of the NCAA circuit.

The 6'7" teenager played 31.3 minutes per game in New Zealand's National Basketball League and averaged 17 points, 7.6 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 1.6 steals across 12 games—impressive numbers in a professional league.

Ball can also be a complementary fit in New York's future alongside Barrett. The latter is built out physically, at 6'6" and 214 pounds, with the athleticism for defensive work and a raw skill set that suggests high on-ball upside.

Ball, conversely, is a slender 194 pounds, making him a liability on defense and off the ball—but those concerns are superseded by his intangibles and on-ball talent. He is a legitimate maestro on the court, in such command of an offense, from dimes, to ranged jumpers and an absurd floater game.

Detractors may critique his shooting splits, which sat at 37.5 percent from the field and 25.0 percent from deep, but a comfortable 72.3 percent clip from the free-throw line helps support the eye test's confidence in his jumper.

Comfort with the ball in his hands and a high ceiling as a shooter, Ball could fit perfectly alongside Barrett on a Knicks team that is desperate for both shooting and playmaking.

The last time Perrin was involved in a top-10 pick, the Jazz selected 6'6" Dante Exum with the fifth selection of the 2014 draft. Injuries derailed his career, but Perrin has another shot at a lanky point guard with high upside who was (partly) molded by the fires of Oceanic basketball.