With the NBA draft less than a month away, the Suns will hold their first announced workouts Monday and Tuesday at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Phoenix has the No. 4 pick in the June 22 draft. The Suns – who finished this season with the league’s second-worst record – also have two second-round picks, the 32nd and 54th overall selections. Team officials generally don’t announce participants until the day of the workout, but over the next few weeks the Suns are expected to host some of the biggest names in the draft.
But Gaines shut out the noise, saw the very rare combination of a 7-foot-3 player who can shoot from deep, pass well and had an excellent vertical. After watching him live in Spain that February, he texted Jackson that Porzingis should be considered the No. 1 pick. “His argument for Kristaps Porzingis convinced me to make that out-of-the-box choice,’’ Jackson admitted in the email.
“Bit of an odd duck,’’ one NBA scout commented, “but he has our respect.’’ Gaines, the Knicks’ vice president of player personnel and Phil Jackson’s most trusted adviser, does not treat the gym like a cocktail party, rather a place to zero in on the finest details of players. “Clarence has a dogged nature to find out what makes a player tick,’’ Jackson wrote in an email Friday to The Post. “He says that when he watches a player, he has to be ‘moved’ to get intrigued by his talent.”
Some scouts don’t know what to make of him. “Call him different,’’ Jazz vice president of player personnel Walter Perrin told The Post. “He has his own style — something Jerry instilled in his scouts. They sit away from people and keep to themselves. Jerry didn’t want his people talking to anybody. It gives them an opportunity to concentrate on what they’re there for.’’