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."