You may know Kenny Wooten from this play, which recently made the SportsCenter Top 10:
Wooten, who is 21 and played for the Oregon Ducks in college, has been with the Knicks since Summer League in Las Vegas, where he averaged only 1.8 points and 3 rebounds per game, but also 2.5 blocks. His mind-boggling athleticism was obvious to anyone with working corneas, so in September the Knicks signed him as an undrafted free agent. He’s been stashed in the G-League ever since, where all he’s done is amass an incredible highlight reel filled with blocks and dunks galore.
In 22 G-League games this season, Wooten is posting 7 points (64 percent from the field), 6 rebounds and 3.4 blocks, according to stats.gleague.nba.com. Wooten is second in blocks per game (.4 behind leader Christ Koumadje of the Delaware Blue Coats), but his 79 total blocks are the most of any G-Leaguer this year.
The Knicks have been lollygagging and letting Wooten light it up in the G-League instead of figuring out a way to get him on the big league roster, and now, according to SNY’s Ian Begley, other teams are eyeing the 6’9”, 220-pound big man. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the Golden State Warriors are one of the teams that could look to scoop up Wooten.
Normally, it would be a good thing that there is a Knick other teams are interested in — it means the franchise found a talented player! — but in this case, the fact that the team has been dilly dallying and keeping him in the G-League instead of getting him to the Big Boy ‘Bockers could come back to haunt the Knicks.
Wooten is on a G League contract with Westchester, so he can sign a 10-day contract with any NBA team at the moment. Multiple teams outside of the Knicks have expressed an interest in signing Wooten recently, per league sources.
If the Knicks want to sign Wooten, they’d need to create a roster spot by waiving or trading player. (If the Knicks want to sign Wooten to a two-way deal, they’d need to waive one of their two-way players (Kadeem Allen, Ivan Raab) and agree to terms prior to Jan. 15).
Instead of focusing on opening up a roster spot for Wooten, who by the way is represented by the very same agent as Mitchell Robinson, Mayar Zokaei, the Knicks have recently been focused on making sure their veterans get minutes. To that end, young cogs Mitchell Robinson and Frank Ntilikina are averaging only 22 and 18 minutes per game, respectively, over the last five outings, all of which have been losses.
The Knicks should figure out how to open a roster spot as soon as possible so they can pair Wooten with Mitch and Frank, a trio that theoretically would be basically impossible to score against. But instead of trotting out a group of whippersnappers that could grow together — who among us wouldn’t be pumped to see a lineup of Ntilikina, R.J. Barrett, Kevin Knox, Kenny Wooten and Robinson? — the Knicks are apparently focused on “acquiring starter-level players who can help the team in the short-term and in future seasons,” according to Begley.
From earlier: worth noting a few weeks ahead of the NBA trade deadline: teams in touch with the Knicks recently have come away with the impression that NYK isn’t solely focused on operating as a traditional ‘seller’ in trades. More here: https://t.co/rx5GVzuD1m— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) January 8, 2020
Starter-level players who could help the team in the short-term and in future seasons? Maybe try getting Wooten on the Knicks proper before some other team snags him. See how the above-mentioned lineup works out. We’re here for the rebuild, and we want sustained success. Not short-term, stop-gap solutions that aren’t going to fix the decrepit infrastructure that exists deep within the bowels of Madison Square Garden.
This final paragraph is meant specifically for Steve Mills and Scott Perry. Guys. Please. Don’t let Wooten slip through your fingertips. Your scouting department found a diamond in the rough, and now it’s your job to help that diamond shine. Apologies for the lame metaphor, but these are dire times.