Kevin Knox is out to impress the 76ers and other NBA teams.
Along the way, the former Kentucky small forward is battling fatigue and jetlag from stops he’s made in Los Angeles, the Philadelphia area, Charlotte, Miami and back in the Philly area over six days.
“I haven’t been home yet,” said Knox, from Tampa, Fla. “After Saturday’s workout in Charlotte, I met my mom in Miami … I was supposed to go home after that, but came here for another workout.”
But the former Kentucky small forward won’t complain about his itinerary. He’s prepared to do whatever it takes to show that he deserves to be a lottery pick in Thursday’s draft at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
On Tuesday, the Sixers brought Knox and former Texas Tech guard Zhaire Smith back to their second workouts with the team. Smith participated in a group workout that also featured former La Salle and Lower Merion swingman B.J. Johnson and guards Malik Newman (Kansas), Landry Shamet (Wichita State), Tyler Nelson (Fairfield) and Southern California’s De’Anthony Melton.
Knox participated in a private workout after having a group workout with the Sixers on Friday. However, this time, his representation only agreed to have him participate in a private workout. Former Villanova swingman Mikal Bridges had a solo workout with the Sixers on June 12.
The team has the 10th and 26th picks in the first round of the draft. It also has four second-round selections: Nos. 38, 39, 56 and 60. The Sixers are considering a lot of options, including using both first first-rounders in a package to move up to the top five picks of the draft.
Bridges is the Sixers’ top target if they remain at No. 10. Knox and former Kentucky teammate Shai Gilgeous-Alexander are high on their wish list if Bridges is off the board, according to sources.
As a 6-foot-6 freshman point guard, Gilgeous-Alexander was regarded as the Wildcats’ best player at the conclusion of the season. The Toronto native is a good passer and facilitator who can run an offense. He can also slide to shooting guard, which makes him a good complement to Ben Simmons. His defense and his 7-foot wingspan are arguably his best attributes.
However, the Sixers would be crowded at point guard, with Simmons, Markelle Fultz and T.J. McConnell already on the roster. So it would be interesting to see what his acquisition would mean for Fultz and/or McConnell.
But on Tuesday, the workouts were about giving Knox and Smith a second look.
It was “just another opportunity for further diligence two days away from the draft,” said Ned Cohen, the Sixers’ vice president of basketball operations.
> READ MORE: Seven players the Sixers could be considering
Knox displayed a good-looking shot in a workout designed mostly around shooting drills. However, as expected, the 18-year-old looked tired and didn’t match the enthusiasm he had displayed in Friday’s group workout. He also had more misses than makes in the portion of the workout visible to the media. That could have had a lot to do with his traveling schedule.
Whatever it was, Sixers vice president of analytics and strategy Alex Rucker only had positive things to say about the 6-9, 215-pounder.
“Kevin looked great,” Rucker said. “He’s a very talented, modern NBA wing. Six-nine, fluid, shot the ball great.”
Knox admitted that the individual workouts are harder than group workouts due to the constant moving. In a group setting, players get breaks.
But this meeting was set up in part because coach and interim general manager Brett Brown wanted to spend more time with Knox.
“Coach Brown’s a good guy,” he said. “So [if] he wants me to come back, he’s got a lot of interest in me.”
The Sixers wanted to get another look at Smith shooting the ball. He did a better job than in last week’s workout. He also displayed his trademark athleticism, dunking on an opponent in a drill.
>> READ MORE: Seven players the Sixers could be considering
Smith said he agreed to come back for a second workout because of the opportunity.
“I’m not about to turn [any] team down, really,” he said. “You never know what may happen.”
Meanwhile, Johnson said it would be dream come true to play for the Sixers.
“The Sixers [are] a team that I grew up watching,” the former Explorers swingman said. “Allen Iverson was my favorite player growing up. To be able to be a part of the Sixers’ dynasty would definitely mean a lot to me.”
Options for overflow of draft picks
The Sixers might choose to sell at least one of their second-round picks.
“We are interested in getting draft consideration or other things we may value,” Cohen said.
They don’t have enough room on their roster to take in six draft picks and add quality free agents. They have 11 players under contract for next season. That’s doesn’t include 2017 second-round pick Jonah Bolden, a stretch forward who spent last season playing for Maccabi Tel Aviv of the Israel Premier League and is expected to join the Sixers this year. That would leave just three full-time roster spots in addition to the pair of two-way contracts NBA teams are allotted.