CHICAGO - After the worst season in franchise history, the Knicks hope Steve Mills can bring them some good luck at Tuesday's NBA Draft Lottery.
Team president Phil Jackson, who assembled the team that went 17-65, will not represent the Knicks at the lottery. It will be Knicks general manager Mills who will sit on stage Tuesday night.
The Knicks finished with the second-worst record and have a 19.9-percent chance of getting the top overall pick.
"We think whatever happens in the draft, we're going to end up with a good player," Mills said at the NBA Draft Combine Thursday. "It's an opportunity to see what ultimately happens, so it's exciting for the franchise."
It's been 30 years since the Knicks won the lottery and the right to draft Patrick Ewing. If history repeats, the Knicks could take Kentucky big man Karl-Anthony Towns or Duke center Jahlil Okafor.
Towns appears to have the edge right now because of his defense and versatility. But Mills wouldn't get into specifics about Towns and Okafor.
"I'm not going to compare the two players," he said. "Wherever we end up in this draft, we're going to be able to get a good player."
Mills, coach Derek Fisher, associate head coach Kurt Rambis and front-office executives Clarence Gaines Jr., Mark Warkentien and Allan Houston were among the Knicks' contingent at Quest Sports Complex. Jackson is in Chicago interviewing players, but he didn't attend Thursday's workout.
Coincidentally, many of the players on the Knicks' radar -- they can't pick any lower than fifth -- aren't at the Combine or aren't playing in the five-on-five games. Towns, Okafor and guard Emmanuel Mudiay, who played in China, are not here.
Ohio State guard D'Angelo Russell, Duke swingman Justise Winslow and Kentucky center Willie Cauley-Stein are here to interview with teams but won't play in the games.
Mills said the Knicks will interview about 18 players and have longer, more "detailed" conversations in New York when they bring in players for individual workouts.
"We knew going in the top guys wouldn't be here," Mills said. "It's not even worth speculating on. It's part of the nature of this particular combine. What's important to us is to have a chance to see the guys and talk to them in person. We've been watching guys play all season long. So we have a pretty good feel for how they are as players on the court."
Wisconsin senior forward Frank Kaminsky is one of the players that Jackson has interviewed. Kaminsky is not considered a top-five pick. Jackson didn't rule out trading the pick if the Knicks drop in the lottery.
"Phil and I are on the same page in terms of how we should approach the draft and what we ultimately do," Mills said. "I think the most important thing for us is just wait and see what happens in the lottery and what our position is."