In the first clue that the Knicks have at least explored moving up from the No. 11 spot in next month’s NBA Draft, New York brass interviewed Purdue’s sophomore, uber-athletic combo guard Jaden Ivey at Chicago’s Draft Combine.
The 6-foot-4 Ivey is considered a top-5 pick and has been ranked no lower than sixth in most top mock drafts. The Post previously reported the Knicks have the 20-year-old Ivey on their radar as the Knicks look to fill a vacancy at starting point guard.
Matt Babcock, the draft analyst for Basketball News, told The Post during the season Ivey’s comparison would be Donovan Mitchell.
It’s also noteworthy that Ivey is a Creative Artists Agency client – guided by Aaron Mintz, a friend of Knicks president Leon Rose. Rose used to run CAA.
The Knicks were allowed to interview 20 prospects at least week’s combine. That Ivey is a CAA client could matter if Rose’s former agency holds back on certain team workouts, with the goal of funneling Ivey to the Knicks on June 23rd. The Kings are at No. 4 and the Pistons No. 4 5; They already have point guards in D’Aaron Fox and Cade Cunningham, respectively. The Pacers, at No. 6, would likely love to net an Indiana product, though they have Tyrese Haliburton and Malcolm Brogdon.
The Knicks drafted CAA client Obi Toppin — originally projected in the 4-to-6 range two years ago — eighth after he mysteriously fell right into Rose’s lap.
However, those are conspiracy theories. Since Knicks GM Scott Perry began running the Knicks draft, it has not been uncommon for him to speak with players not in their range.
The Knicks will also interview players projected behind them. By doing both, the Knicks have the flexibility to trade down or up, armed with more information.
In the bigger picture, Knicks brass likes to gather as much intel as possible on incoming standout players. Even if you can’t draft them, there’s always a future scenario of trading for them down the road.
“Ivey is one of the best athletes in the draft,” one Western Conference scout said. “Think of an early Russell Westbrook with a jumper. He needs a fast tempo to be at his best, but he’ll improve any team’s talent level and explosiveness.”
Ivey canceled his media availability last Thursday at the combine.
Ivey has an intensive basketball background because his mother, Niele, became the Notre Dame’s head women’s basketball coach in 2020 after serving years as an assistant. She also was a star point guard at Notre Dame, drafted by the Indiana Fever of the WNBA. Hence, Jaden Ivey, 20, has been at basketball practices since he was a toddler. (His father also played wide receiver at Notre Dame.)
Purdue suffered a shocking upset in this year’s tournament, 67-64, in the Round of 16 against the Cinderella darlings from Saint Peter’s. Ivey did not perform up to standards, scoring just 9 points to go with two assists and six turnovers. Some scouts felt Ivey should have attempted to put Purdue on his back.
In 36 games last season, Ivey averaged 17.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists and shot a healthy 35.8 percent from 3.
“She was always in the gym,” Jaden said of his mother recently. “And so I was, too.”