Former N.C. State forward C.J. Leslie knew not working out for NBA teams due to injury might be bad.
Just not slide-all-the-way-through-the-draft bad. But that’s what happened the night of June 27, when he never heard his name called among the 60 picks.
That called into question whether Leslie should have left the Wolfpack with college eligibility remaining. Then the New York Knicks called. Their generous offer – his contract is reportedly guaranteed for all of next season – puts his pro career back on track.
“They called before the draft was even over. They called somewhere in the second round,” Leslie recalled of the Knicks, after a 77-72 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans in the Las Vegas Summer League.
There were always questions about how Leslie fit as an NBA player. At 6-foot-9 and 200 pounds he doesn’t have the ideal bulk to play power forward, and his skill set isn’t a great match to small forward.
He struggled Friday, shooting 2-of-9 from the field for seven points and totaling two rebounds and two assists in 25 minutes. He’s still recovering from a hip injury that limited his ability to audition for teams.
“The only thing I can think of is me not working out for teams. I think that was critical,” Leslie said. “Do I think I should have went undrafted because of that? Nah. But that’s just the way it works. This is the situation God put me in. It will all work out in the end.”
Leslie seemed unconcerned by how he played Friday.
“Nothing surprised me. Just me getting used to the game,” Leslie said. “Getting back on the court playing 5-on-5, this is my first time – I haven’t really played pick-up. Just working out.”