CHICAGO — Call it a “sneaky hire.”
In moving to replace college scouts Walker Russell and Kristian Petesic, the Knicks added two talent evaluators without making an announcement.
The Post reported Thursday former Heat rival and 2022 Hall of Famer Tim Hardaway being one of the hires.
According to an NBA source, the other hire by Knicks president Leon Rose was an out-of-the-box addition in Vince Baldwin — a longtime Nike talent scout who has extensive contacts across his years in the high school and college ranks.
Baldwin also is close with Knicks senior executive William Wesley, who worked unofficially for Rose at Creative Artists Agency helping get Rose’s clients shoe deals. While in the shadows, Wesley reportedly aligned himself with Nike but wasn’t on the payroll.
Baldwin and Hardaway were both at this week’s Chicago Draft Combine — Baldwin proudly wearing a black shirt with a Knicks logo. Hardaway, who warred with the Knicks during the 1990s, has yet to be seen in Knicks gear.
Hardaway was once overheard telling people at the Delta Club at the Garden after his son Tim Hardaway Jr. was drafted by the Knicks in 2013 that he would never be caught in a Knicks hat.
Ironically, Russell, who had been with the Knicks since 2005, pushed for the Hardaway pick at No. 24. Russell left the Knicks during training camp to join the Mavericks.
Petesic, a favorite of Phil Jackson, was let go and has resurfaced at Mike Miller’s agency as a scouting director. Miller reps projected top-3 pick Paolo Banchero (Duke).
On Friday, during combine workouts, Rose and Wesley were nowhere to be found at Chicago’s Wintrust Arena. Coach Tom Thibodeau sat with new Knicks consultant Gersson Rosas for four straight hours without leaving his seat, viewing mostly late first-round/second-round and draft-bubble candidates.
They were later joined later by Knicks GM Scott Perry. Assistant GMs Walter Perrin and Frank Zanin were also nearby in the stands. Meanwhile, Knicks assistant coach Darren Erman was one of the coaching volunteers during the week of games.
The Knicks contingent will be at the Pro Day Saturday for Excel to watch Johnny Davis, the two-way shooting guard from Wisconsin in the Knicks’ range at No. 11. Also working out for Jeff Schwartz’s stable is former Mets GM Omar Minaya’s son, Justin, who played at Providence.
One noticeable front-office absence was personnel director Makhtar N’Diaye, who is in Serbia for the Euroleague Final Four to scout the Knicks’ 2021 second-round pick, point guard Rokas Jokubaitis, who plays for Barcelona.
Real Madrid beat Barcelona, 86-83, on Thursday. Jokubaitis was held to 10 minutes, scoring four points with no assists in one of his worst outings. Barcelona will play in the consolation game Saturday vs. Olympiacos. The Post reported last week the Knicks are heavily leaning toward allowing the Lithuanian lefty to stay with Barcelona for one more season to polish his game and get stronger and is not expected at Las Vegas summer league.
Kentucky point guard TyTy Washington said he didn’t meet with the Knicks in Chicago but believes he will visit for a workout.
Credit: Notigroup Newsroom.
[Written in collaboration with other media outlets with information from the following sources]