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Knicks look for good, young piece at No. 24

Wednesday - 6/26/2013, 10:40pm  ET

BRIAN MAHONEY
AP Basketball Writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- There are no 35-year-old players in the NBA draft, certainly nobody pushing 40.

The New York Knicks loaded up on old guys last season while building a playoff team, and now they have a chance Thursday to mix in some youth.

The Knicks have the No. 24 pick, with some holes to fill on a 54-win team that won the Atlantic Division title but will have a different look next season.

"I'm very excited about the future," general manager Glen Grunwald said shortly after the season. "Obviously, we've got some work to do. We're not where we want to be. We're going to do all we can to get where we want to go."

The Knicks could use a backup point guard, after 40-year-old Jason Kidd retired and became coach of the Brooklyn Nets. Pablo Prigioni, 35, became a starter late in the season but it is unknown if the Argentine veteran who finally came to the NBA after a successful career in Europe will return.

Help is also needed in the frontcourt, where 40-year-old Kurt Thomas and 38-year-old Rasheed Wallace were hurt late in the season. Wallace retired before the playoffs.

Coach Mike Woodson made clear his preference for veterans, repeatedly saying during the season that young teams don't win titles. But a younger body could certainly help after so many of the older ones broke down late last season, especially because their salary cap situation will prevent the Knicks from making too many changes through free agency.

"I think we can (get) better. I think we can play better than we did at the end of the season in the playoffs. But that's not to say we won't explore all alternatives," Grunwald said. "That's my job, to go out and look at all the alternatives, all the ideas, be as creative as possible. At the end, we'll see what happens."

Woodson also said after the season that low-post scoring was another area the Knicks might look to address, since they don't know how much Amare Stoudemire can play after a pair of knee surgeries last season.

There's also the chance they lose Sixth Man of the Year J.R. Smith, who informed them Tuesday that he would decline the option in his contract for next season and become a free agent.

The Knicks have found some good players in the latter half of the first round in recent years. Wilson Chandler went with the No. 23 pick in 2007 and was later dealt to Denver as part of the Carmelo Anthony blockbuster trade. Current starting forward Iman Shumpert was the 17th pick in 2011.

Though this draft is considered short on star power at the top, ESPN analyst Jay Bilas believes there will still be the usual good finds for teams picking in the 20s.

"I think they're going to get pretty good value at that stage of the draft. I believe that this being a weak draft has been totally overblown. I do agree with a lot of my colleagues that say there is no no-brainer No. 1 pick or no no-brainer, obvious All Star or Hall of Famer in the crew," Bilas said on a conference call.

"But we've still got a lot of really good players. So you get down into the 20s where you're talking about, there are a lot of good values there that are going to be solid players. I don't subscribe to this is a weak draft, therefore if you're not drafting in the top five, then you've got a real problem. I don't believe that."

The Knicks do not have a second-round pick.


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