Back in October, Michigan State star Miles Bridges told me he would be "extremely happy" to play for the Knicks.
Now, his coaches seem to feel the same way.
"I hope they have a big interest, I'd like to see him go there, personally," Michigan State associate head coach Dwayne Stephens told SNY.tv by phone of the Knicks.
"I think with the new people in the front office, it seems like they're going to go in a different direction or take a different approach. When the Knicks are good, the NBA is good, you know?"
The Knicks hierarchy of Steve Mills, Scott Perry, and David Fizdale met with Bridges last week at the NBA Combine in Chicago. And Knicks assistant GM Gerald Madkins visited with the Michigan State staff during the day that Fizdale was introduced to the New York media, as reported by the New York Post.
Stephens said virtually all 30 NBA teams have passed through to do background research on the 6-foot-7 Bridges, who figures to be around when the wing-hungry Knicks select at No. 9 on June 21.
"Yeah, he came out," Stephens said of Madkins. "I think all of those teams just come and they're doing their homework."
Back in October, when Bridges was at Madison Square Garden for Big Ten media day, he seemed thrilled by the possibility of landing with the Knicks.
"It's going to be great," he said. "If the Knicks draft me, I'll be extremely happy. It's a great organization. I know it's been going through a lot in the past few years but every team goes through that and at some point it's going to be a turnaround point. So if I were part of that turnaround point, then I would be happy."
Michigan State head man Tom Izzo knows that Perry is a Detroit native who may have a soft spot for Bridges, a Flint native.
"Scott has a different appreciation for Michigan kids,'' Izzo told the Post. "Everybody sticks up for their part of the country. You can say about Midwestern kids they have values, work ethic. Miles has all those things. He's a really unbelievable teammate - not a selfish bone in his body. That speaks a lot in this day and age."
Fate could be aligning as both Miles and Villanova's Mikal Bridges appear to be in the sights of the Knicks.
Stephens obviously likes his guy.
"I think they both have their strengths," he said. "I think Miles is a better shooter. I think Miles can defend. I know Mikal Bridges gets a lot of notoriety because of the length of his arms and I think he does have the ability to switch four or five guys just like Miles. So I'd say they're about even in that regard. I think they both got to continue to get better with the ball and making decisions. But I think the thing that separates the two is that Miles is a better shooter and with the league moving to more three-point shots, I'd give Miles the nod."
The statistics don't necessarily bear that out, though.
Miles Bridges averaged 17.1 points and 7.0 rebounds after returning to Michigan State for his sophomore season to seek the NCAA championship that Mikal Bridges ultimately won. He shot 46 percent from the field and 36 percent from deep, where he drained 71 three-pointers.
Mikal Bridges averaged 17.7 points and 5.9 rebounds on 51 percent shooting and 44 percent from deep, where he made 104 threes. He was a huge reason why Villanova won its second NCAA title in three years under coach Jay Wright, who has said he's not interested in coaching the Knicks or any other NBA outfit.
Still, Stephens feels Miles Bridges is a perfect fit for today's NBA.
"When you watch the playoffs now, you see all these teams and the NBA's turning into threes, layups and defense is what it equates to," he said.
"And he can do all three of those. Obviously, he's a big-time athlete. He can finish at the rim. I think his ability to switch four or five positions is going to help him a ton because everyone's switching five positions now. But I think his shooting ability is something that people will really be surprised at. He can really shoot the ball, especially when he's spotting up."
Bridges is currently training in Cleveland, where his agent, Rich Paul, is based. Paul also represents LeBron James' agent, as well as Darius Bazley, who opted to skip Syracuse for the NBA G League. It's unclear when, or if, Bridges will work out for the Knicks.
"I don't think he's going to work out as much," Stephens said. "I think some of those workouts are being cut back. I don't think the agents are allowing their guys to work out for as many people. I'm not sure how many workouts Miles will end up doing. "