Knicks Take a Second Look at Philippines’ Biggest NBA Hope

Kai Sotto, New York Knicks

Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns posts up on Kai Sotto #11 of the Adelaide 36ers.

Last year, Kai Sotto attended a dozen workouts with NBA teams, including the New York Knicks, but the 7-foot-3 international center went undrafted. This year, the Knicks will take a second look at the 21-year-old big man from the Philippines in a mini-camp scheduled next week.

Sotto will join other draft prospects and free agents in the three-day mini-camp starting on Monday, his agent, Tony Ronzone of the Wasserman Group, told Heavy Sports.

Unlike last year when Sotto did not know what to expect, the former Adelaide 36ers center is coming to New York riding on a wave of confidence after a pair of solid workouts in Utah and Dallas, where Ronzone previously worked as Director of Player Personnel before jumping to player representation as Wasserman Group’s senior director for their basketball division.

After going undrafted, Sotto returned to Australia’s National Basketball League. He averaged 6.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 0.8 blocks in 12.8 minutes in his second season with the 36ers. When his NBL season ended, he moved to Japan’s B.League and joined the Hiroshima Dragonflies for the remainder of the season. He signed a contract extension to return to Hiroshima next season with an NBA opt-out clause.

New York is Sotto’s final stop before the NBA Summer League in July. Sotto, the tallest NBA prospect to come out from the Philippines, is also expected to banner his country alongside Jazz’s Filipino-American guard Jordan Clarkson in the FIBA World Cup in August. The Philippines will co-host the world basketball championship with Japan and Indonesia.

Depending on their offseason moves, the Knicks are projected to enter next season as an over-the-cap team, so they are looking to work around the margins by filling out the backend of their roster with players on rookie deals and veteran minimum contracts.

The Knicks also do not own a pick in this year’s draft and have been working out prospects who are not projected to be selected, which include Washington State U’s sharpshooter Justin Powell, LSU’s big man KJ Williams, Virginia Tech’s Justyn Mutts, Georgia’s Terry Roberts, UConn’s Adama Sanogo and Kentucky’s Antonio Reeves among others.

Kristaps Porzingis Raves About Knicks Amid Reunion Rumors

Another 7-foot-3 international center might return to New York to play for the Knicks.

Former Knicks lottery pick Kristaps Porzingis added more fuel to the rumors of a reunion this offseason after appearing on the Ariel Helwani Show gushing over his time in New York.

“That was like my first love, the city of New York. Playing in [Madison Square Garden], so of course, I have not the best feeling when I get so much hate, but, as I said, [the relationship is] better. Of course, I can understand now how the fans could feel that way or how they viewed me at that time, and then I asked for a trade and got painted as the villain. But it is what it is,” Porzingis said.

When asked if he has some regrets about his time in New York, which ended with an abrupt trade to Dallas, Porzingis replied: “No, not about my time there. I enjoyed every minute so much playing in New York. Nothing but great memories from there.”

Porzingis has a $36-million player option with the Washington Wizards, who have a new front office open to rebuilding.

“[We have] full authority to reset the team if that’s what we decide to do,” new Wizards president Michael Winger said during his introductory presser.

Jalen Brunson Takes His Act to Manila

Team USA’s FIBA World Cup roster has started taking shape.

Knicks star point guard Jalen Brunson is one of dozen NBA players confirmed to play for Team USA this summer in Manila, Philippines, according to NBA insider Marc Stein.

Brunson joins Indiana Pacers’ Tyrese Haliburton, Minnesota Timberwolves Anthony Edwards, Milwaukee Bucks’ Bobby Portis, Los Angeles Lakers’ Austin Reaves and his former Villanova teammate, Brooklyn Nets’ Mikal Bridges, according to The Athletic. Memphis Grizzlies’ Jarren Jackson, Jr. and New Orleans Pelicans’ Brandon Ingram have been added to the team, according to ESPN.

It will also be Brunson’s first trip to the Philippines, where his father, Rick, once played as an import for Gordon’s Gin (now Ginebra), the most popular ball club in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).

Read More
Comment Here
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments