The Knicks can't even lose right.
Despite an abysmal 17-win season, their lottery short-comings won’t net them Jahlil Okafor or Karl-Anthony Towns in June's NBA Draft.
Following Tuesday’s NBA Draft Lottery, where they went from the second-best chance at winning the top pick to selecting fourth, it’s understandable that such gloom and doom engulf the front-office and fan base alike.
But all is not lost for the Knicks, as the No. 4 pick can still be a great asset. Whether they select one of the draft's best guards, Ohio State’s D'Angelo Russell or Emmanuel Mudiay, who played in China last season, the Knicks could still select a diamond in rough and hope to develop the player.
History, however, tells a different story, as New York has been prone to making rash decisions -- especially in the aftermath of disappointment.
Team president Phil Jackson has already alluded to them moving the pick, if they fall out of the top two spots. General manager Steve Mills also didn't rule out that option with the Knicks needing veteran help, as he noted following the lottery selection.
“I think we’re going to be open to a lot of things,” Mills said. “We know we can get a good player at this pick. We’re also going to be open to talking to teams and looking at different options.”
Due to NBA rules, the Knicks can't trade the pick prior to making a selection. But they can agree to select a player for a team and then trade him after making the pick.
So, in theory, the Knicks can acquire an impactful player by trading their draft pick. And then use their cap space (approximately $25 million), to sign a premier free agent.
Here are the three most likely landing spots for the pick, if they try and move it:
1. Detroit Pistons: They’re liable to lose forward Greg Monroe anyway, so why not get something in return? There’s still enough talent to be had with the No. 4 pick to help the ascending Pistons add depth -- and perhaps a stretch-4 alongside burgeoning pivot Andre Drummond -- to pique their interest.
2. Denver Nuggets: Could these two franchises possibly get in bed again and make another mega-deal? Or would the Knicks’ brass be leery of another bludgeoning by the hands of the Nuggets? Should bygones be in the past, Denver is always a willing trade partner. And thanks to the Knicks’ generous offerings in the Carmelo Anthony trade, the Nuggets have enough moveable parts. Keep an eye on the Kroenke family, as their phone lines are always open.
3. Phoenix Suns: It would be costly for the Suns to move up from the No. 13 slot, but if anything is to be learned about this franchise, it’s that they are not afraid to trade talent or gamble on transactions. This is the same franchise that traded Isaiah Thomas mid-season, after signing him to a lucrative free-agent deal just months prior, so nothing is too outlandish for them. The Suns are a forward-thinking club, and are right on the cusp of being a playoff participant. Perhaps now is the time to strike and discard a few moveable parts for the right talent – and guys like Russell, Mudiay, and Willie Cauley-Stein could be that right piece to get them over the hump.
By winning two of their final three games – at Atlanta and Orlando – the Knicks went from having the best chance at winning Tuesday’s lottery to the second-best chance – only to see them fall to No. 4. Those meaningless wins meant the Knicks forfeited the No. 1 lottery seed to the Timberwolves, who captured the top pick for the June 25 draft.
The T-Wolves became the first team since 2004 to own the top seed and win the lottery. They selected Dwight Howard. The Knicks held that honor for much of the last 3 1/2 months of the season before Minnesota endured 12-straight losses to finish with the worst record and gain a 25 percent chance of winning the lottery.