SALT LAKE CITY — The 29th pick in the draft was officially recognized Tuesday as one of the 10 best rookies in the league this season, the mere notion of which would have been a shock seven months ago.
"I think everybody in training camp would have laughed at it," Travis Knight said. "Including me."
Knight--chosen by the Chicago Bulls, renounced in a salary-cap move soon after, and signed by the Lakers for the rookie minimum--was supposed to be a project whose promise would not be fulfilled until 1997-98, at the earliest. Instead, he proved ahead of his time, a gangly 7-footer with range, promising post skills and energy who filled in as the starting power forward during the run of injuries and flourished.
When the all-rookie team was announced before the Lakers played the Utah Jazz in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals, it was revealed just how much. Only seven players--all lottery picks and all but Stephon Marbury of the Minnesota Timberwolves on teams headed back to the lottery--got more votes than Knight, a second-team selection after barely being a first-round pick.
"A lot of that has to do with the injuries," Knight said. "But I got the chance, and Coach [Del] Harris had confidence in me."
Kobe Bryant finished just behind Knight in voting of head coaches, making the Lakers only the third team to place two people on the all-rookie team the same season, joining Miami's Glen Rice and Sherman Douglas and San Antonio's David Robinson and Sean Elliott. The squad has been chosen since 1963, and a second-team was added in 1989.
The Lakers' third rookie, Derek Fisher, finished 14th in the voting.
Corie Blount, after improving enough to rejoin the Lakers on Monday night, was back in uniform for the first time after sitting out the last three games because of a sprained shoulder, but did not play. "He hasn't even been through meetings for game plans, so he'll have to wait," Harris said. . . . X-rays on the left forearm of Sean Rooks, a precaution after a Game 1 collision with Karl Malone, were negative. He was available but didn't play. . . . The Lakers' 34.2% from the field Sunday was their second-worst playoff shooting performance in the Los Angeles era, behind only the 33.7% on April 7, 1974, at Milwaukee.