DETROIT — A lot of players wouldn’t take kindly to going from a championship contender in sunny Los Angeles to the woebegone Knicks.

Maurice Harkless isn’t any player. It might be just for two months, but South Jamaica, Queens, native Harkless will savor it.

The former Forest Hills High School grad and St. John’s one-and-done product is a Knick — even if it did not come via the most ideal circumstances.

“It’s a dream come true,’’ Harkless said after joining the team before Saturday’s 95-92 win over the Pistons. “I was a Knicks fan growing up. I loved watching the Knicks on TV, I loved coming to the Garden for games when I could. And I actually played at the Garden in college, too, so it’s like I’ve come full circle now.’’

Sources have indicated the Knicks wanted Harkless in Thursday’s deadline Marcus Morris deal more for his contract to make the math work than for the long-term. But the 26-year-old Harkless, whose deal expires after the season, said he will make the most of it.

Maurice Harkless
Maurice HarklessNBAE via Getty Images

Asked about his future as a free agent, Harkless said: “Obviously you know like I said playing for the Knicks is a dream come true. If that happens, that would be great. I don’t know what this summer is going to look like. Being in New York would be fine with me.”

Though he has not fully lived up to the No. 15-overall position at which he was drafted by the 76ers in 2012 (they traded him to the Magic two months later), Harkless played in 50 games for the powerful Clippers this season, making 38 starts.

Harkless was not needed to score on a Clippers team with Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Lou Williams and Landry Shametwhom the Knicks also pursued as part of the package).

“Obviously it’s different — you go from a team who had hopes of contending for a championship to a team who is struggling right now,’’ Harkless said. “It’s also a good opportunity to be a part of something and… try to turn things around.I’m going to just take things for what they are and make the most of the situation’’

Early in his career in Orlando, when acting president Scott Perry was the Magic’s top executive, Harkless made a tandem with point guard Elfrid Payton, who has commanded the starting job with the Knicks as floor general.

“He and I played together for Orlando, played for [acting president] Scott Perry, so there’s a little bit of familiarity here, so that’s good, too,’’ Harkless said.

Because of Harkless’ cross-country travel across the past two days and lack of familiarity with the playbook, interim coach Mike Miller was leaning toward giving Harkless his Knicks debut Sunday in Atlanta.

“He’s a real versatile guy,’’ Miller said. “Defensively he can cover three positions on the floor. He’s very athletic. He brings the element of playing without the ball, getting to the rim. He plays off the dribble, can get to the rim. And he can shoot the ball.”


Perry was in Detroit on Saturday with the team, but was not permitted to speak on the record to the media — a telltale sign of his shaky status. Perry was joined by player personnel director, Harold Ellis, one of Perry’s hires from their days together in Orlando.


Incoming president Leon Rose was spotted at the SMU-Temple game sitting with William Wesley, expected to be hired as an advisor. Rose is a Temple graduate. They were sitting with former Knicks guard Rod Strickland, who could join in some capacity. Trier, the former Arizona star, could be a buyout candidate as well.


Allonzo Trier, the second-year shooting guard who has been the Knicks’ forgotten man, didn’t travel to Detroit. The Knicks stated he was sick. The Knicks tried to trade Trier to allow him a chance to showcase himself as he’s a free agent this summer.