CHICAGO —The Knicks entered the night with high hopes, but a dose of reality, too, earned from too many years of lottery frustration. So when the cards were revealed and they remained stuck with the 11th pick, William Wesley, the team’s executive vice president who was the face of the franchise on the stage, could just shake his head.
The Orlando Magic moved up to the top pick with the Oklahoma City Thunder landing the second choice while Houston got the third pick.
This marked the 18th time the Knicks have been in the NBA Draft Lottery since winning the very first one in 1985 and the 18th time that they have either remained in place or fallen back. So at least if there was disappointment, there was some practice.
The stage was filled with current stars such as Portland’s Damian Lillard and Sacramento’s Domantas Sabonis and legends like David Robinson, while the Knicks put Wesley up as their representative. In a dark blue suit he didn’t crack a smile when he was introduced.
When it was over and the Knicks contingent gathered for the exit, Wesley declined to comment.
The Knicks entered the night with only a 2% chance of getting the top pick and a 9.4% shot at jumping into the top four. With the 11th-worst record the Knicks had a 77.6% chance of remaining at 11 and a 12.6% chance of slipping into the 12th spot and getting jumped by one of the three teams behind them, and even a less than 1% chance of tumbling two or three spots back.
Wesley was representing the Knicks on stage and Brock Aller, vice president, basketball and strategic planning, was in the drawing room where the actual lottery is conducted with the Ping-Pong balls being drawn. Team president Leon Rose, general manager Scott Perry and coach Tom Thibodeau were also in attendance along with assistant coach Darren Erman, who is serving as a coach in the Draft Combine over the next three days. Scouting heads Walt Perrin and Frank Zanin were also on hand.
Rose has worked in silence for most of his two-year run leading the team. But when he spoke with MSG Network on the final day of the regular season he remained confident that the process is on track despite the drop from 41-31 and a playoff berth in the first season for this leadership group to 37-45 and a return to the lottery this time.
“Yes, absolutely,” Rose said. “We have to stick to the plan. We have to build one block at a time, be patient. We feel like we’re set up, you know, really well as far as like, we’ve got 13 draft picks over the next three drafts, four first-round picks. With regard to opportunities that may come along, we’re very flexible. We want to show patience. We want to show prudence in making those decisions and continuing to develop what we have.”
The risk for the Knicks is that they already have eight players 24 or under on the roster and finding time for all of them is a dilemma for Thibodeau unless Rose and Perry utilize some of these young assets as part of a trade. When Rose did his one media session since taking charge as the Knicks readied to start training camp this season he maintained that patience will be a priority.
“Yeah, I’m not gonna comment on what’s gone on before, but with our group here and Wes and Brock and Frank \(Zanin) and the rest of our group, we’re going to take it one day at a time. We’re gonna be aggressive as far as knowing what’s going on and as far as being on top of things and looking at opportunities. But at the same time, we’re gonna be prudent and disciplined in decisions that we make that are gonna take into account positives and negatives, short term, long term, all those factors in a
NBA Draft Lottery results:
7. Trail Blazers
8. Pelicans (via Lakers)
12. Thunder (via Clippers)