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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Wednesday / December 12.
  • John Calipari gives advice to parents of Knicks’ rookie Kevin Knox

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    By ADAM ZAGORIA

    NEW YORK — Kevin Knox’s parents visited with Kentucky coach John Calipari on Friday night at the Kentucky team hotel, and Calipari had some words of wisdom for them.

    With Knox going through the trials and tribulations of being an NBA rookie, Calipari told them to get used to it — and embrace it.

    “This is a great experience for him going through the ups and downs of this during  your rookie year and get an idea of how hard this is,” Calipari said he told the parents after I asked him about Knox following Kentucky’s 84-83 loss to Seton Hall Saturday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.

    The 6-foot-9 Knox sat courtside for the instant classic, as did Yankees GM Brian Cashman and former Seton Hall stars Terry Dehere and Jerry Walker.

    Calipari said Knox is realizing he’s now got a full-time job as an NBA rookie, and that he’s no longer in college.

    “Kevin’s comment was, ‘I get to the practice facility, we’re there at 8 [a.m.] and we’re there till 6 [p.m.],” Calipari said. “Why, wait a minute, do you not just shoot baskets and go home and play video games? No, and so the ups and downs of him being 19 years old, it’s perfect. So he’s gotta figure this stuff out.”

    Knox was the No. 9 pick of the Knicks in the 2018 Draft. He was averaging 8.7 points and 3.2 rebounds entering Saturday’s night game with the Nets. He has taken some heat from NBA scouts, with one telling the New York Post the following.

    “Sometimes he looks like he doesn’t want to play,” the assistant said. “The evaluations coming out of Kentucky were not all good — that he didn’t have a motor and plays too soft. It’s not easy to teach that now. He doesn’t pass and only looks to shoot — not create. He’s shooting on like 80 percent of his touches.”

    Two days after that story appeared, Knox went for 26 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists in a win over Milwaukee.

    “I told the Knicks and I tell everybody who recruits or signs our guys, they’re 19, they’re 18, they’re 20, they’re not 25 years old,” Calipari said. “But what you have is a 6-9, 6-10 player who’s multi-dimensional who can score and is just going to get better and better as he matures and physically fills out. He’s 19, he’s 19.”

    The Knicks (8-18) currently have the fifth-worst record in the NBA and have about a 10 percent chance at the No. 1 overall pick.

    Asked if Knicks fan should be looking forward to getting a Zion Williamson or an R.J. Barrett out of Duke in the 2019 NBA Draft, Calipari said: “I think they’re going to have a lot of options in what they’re going to be able to do. I’m trying to win a ball game so I’m not really thinking about the Knicks’ organization but [Knicks GM] Scottie [Perry] and those guys will figure it out.”

    Photo: Scott Charlton

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.