New York Knicks: Bruce Pearl sings Jared Harper’s praises

Bruce Pearl

The New York Knicks recently acquired point guard Jared Harper off waivers from the Phoenix Suns, subsequently releasing guard Kadeem Allen. In an interview with Marc Berman of the New York Post, Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl said that Harper, a three-year player at Auburn, was courted by the Knicks in the 2019 NBA Draft process and that he would’ve been a first-round pick if he returned for his senior season.

“I talked to a number of Knicks scouts when Jared was here at Auburn,” Pearl said. “They had a lot of interest in him when we were making the run to The Final Four. They were one of the teams he thought he’d play for in the summer league.”

“If Jared was a senior he would’ve absolutely, without question, been drafted in the first round this year. They’re getting a first-round talent.”

Harper played for the Suns’ G-League affiliate, the Northern Arizona Suns, this season. He averaged 20.2 points, 5.5 assists and 1.1 steals per game across 34 contests.

Pearl thinks Harper will welcome the opportunity to play for the Knicks and that he doesn’t need to spend another season in the G-League.

“I think he actually will decide to sign with the Knicks because he sees the opportunity,” Pearl said. “Even if they get (LaMelo) Ball in the draft, he would complement them really well. Those guys can score as well as run a team.

“I don’t think he needs another G League season. If you want fast, if you want someone who can pull up (for a jumper) as soon as he crosses the eight-second line and you’re willing to let him score? He’s really hard to guard and he can play-make.”

Pearl thinks Harper, 5-foot-10, 175 pounds, is effective within his frame.

“When you’re the smallest guy on the floor, you have to have an edge,” Pearl said. “He’s got an edge Isiah (Thomas) had and Muggsy Bogues had. He’s got a toughness to him defensively.

“You can try to go down there and post him up. The challenge is his size. He’s got really long arms and he’s really tough. He’s hard to take advantage of. He knows how to use his quick feet. He’ll make plays defensively.”

Harper averaged 13.5 points, 4.8 assists and 1.2 steals per game across his three seasons at Auburn. The Knicks point guard rotation currently includes Frank Ntilikina, Dennis Smith Jr. and Elfrid Payton, who has a $8 million team option for the 2020-21 NBA season.

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