What has happened to the Knicks this season may be "a godsend" because of how it will impact their rebuilding efforts, Phil Jackson said Thursday.
Jackson, the Knicks' president, and general manager Steve Mills held a town hall meeting for season-ticket holders at the Theater at Madison Square Garden to address the future and were optimistic about the direction in which they're heading.
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The Knicks should have a top-four draft pick and about $30 million to spend in free agency this summer. Jackson said he hopes to get "two starters" in free agency and a franchise-changing player in the draft. If the Knicks (14-61) -- who are two games behind the Timberwolves (16-59) with seven to play -- finish with the worst record, they will have a 25-percent chance of getting the first overall pick.
"The first draft pick can move the whole organization," Jackson said.
The Knicks could move the pick if they're presented with something they like. Mills said they already have received two phone calls about trading the pick, but both men stressed that they can't just give it away.
"We should be calm, cool and see what works best for us," Jackson said.
When he was asked if he knows whom he would take in the draft, Jackson said, "I do." But of course he went no further. He also told the season-ticket holders that this weekend's Final Four is "going to be worth watching."
If the Knicks get the first pick, they likely will choose between two players who will be in action this weekend: Duke's Jahlil Okafor and Kentucky's Karl-Anthony Towns.
The Knicks need a big man and Jackson said he will look for "a defender" first. Towns is the better defender and Okafor has a more polished offensive game.
But the Knicks need players at just about every position. They have only four players with fully guaranteed deals next season, and only Carmelo Anthony is assured of being back.
Jackson has said the Knicks will do most of their work in free agency, but both men said the Knicks are not going to "chase" the biggest names. Jackson mentioned that overspending for Amar'e Stoudemire in 2010 put the Knicks "in a bad spot."
"We will not go after the biggest names out there," Mills said. "We will go after the players that fit our style of play."
The Knicks likely won't be in the running for top-level free agents such as Marc Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge, but they could pursue Detroit big man Greg Monroe.
Anthony, who is rehabbing after undergoing season-ending knee surgery, is expected to be active in the Knicks' pursuit of free agents. Mills mentioned Anthony coming to his office for "three-hour visits" to discuss personnel.
Jackson truly believed he had assembled a playoff team before this season began. But the Tyson Chandler trade to Dallas proved to be a bust, and injuries hurt the Knicks early.
During a 16-game losing streak, Jackson traded J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert to Cleveland, which expedited the rebuilding movement. The Knicks were 5-36 at the midpoint, and their 61 losses -- and counting -- are the most in franchise history.
"[Expletive] happens," Jackson said. "And this year it happened to us.
"We knew we were going to have to take this team apart to get to where we want to get to. It may be a godsend in the end."
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