Magic Johnson says the Knicks, at 4-18, and Lakers, at 5-16, are exactly where fans should want them to be - bad enough to get better in the future.
The iconic Lakers star went so far Tuesday as to say this: "I hope the Lakers lose every game, because if you're going to lose, lose. I'm serious.
"If you're going to lose, you have to lose, because you can't be in the middle of the pack. You either have to be great or you have to be bad, to get a good [draft] pick."
Johnson also said about the Knicks' early struggles, "If I'm a Knick fan, I'm very happy, because I'm looking toward the future, because this thing can change in the summer just like that.
"One or two guys, whether that's through free agency or through trades, at least you have the cap space to make some things happen where before you were over the cap and had a bad time. Now you're really upset because you can't maneuver.
"The Lakers are in a good space, too, next summer if they can sign or trade for a talented guy. I'd rather be all the way bad than be in the middle."
As for former Lakers coach and current Knicks president Phil Jackson - as well as his star player, Carmelo Anthony - Johnson urged patience.
"I think that they'll definitely get it figured out," he said at an event at Grand Central Terminal to promote Steiner Sports' new line of handwritten essays by athletes over pictures of some of their famous moments.
"You know, first of all we have to remember something - that change is hard in the beginning," Johnson said. "Change is hard for the players, it's hard for the fans, but eventually they will figure it out. They have to add more talent and then also guys who really fit into the triangle. It's a difficult thing if you don't have the right type of players to play the system.
"That's why he built a championship system in Chicago and then with the Lakers, but until you have those type of players, it's going to be hard."
Asked whether Anthony is the kind of player Jackson can build around, Johnson said, "Oh, yeah. I think it's hard for Carmelo, too, because he has to make adjustments, and when you're used to playing one way to now all of a sudden have to change that.
"He's been a long time in the league. Change, again, it's always hard. It's not easy to swallow, either, but at the same time everybody's got to be patient, because New York is not the only organization going through heartaches right now. Out in Los Angeles the Lakers are going through the same thing. The fans are itchy, upset. The writers, you guys, can't understand what is going on and the same thing is happening in L.A., the same thing is happening in Boston.
"When you have franchises that mean a lot to the league like the Knicks, the Lakers and the Celtics we don't take too kindly to losing and change, but that's what we're going through now."
Johnson called Jackson a "realist" who knew what he was getting into.
"We all have to understand it's not about this year. Everybody's thinking it's about this year. It's not. This was a throwaway year anyway. Everybody should be happy. You hope you get a good pick.
"Phil will work it out. Derek [Fisher] will get better, too, and the team will respond better, but I'm telling you it's hard when this thing happens. I'm used to going one-on-one, I'm used to doing my thing, now I have to pass, cut. You have to get used to that. Give them a chance. It's only been a couple of months. We'll see. It will get better. I'm sure it will."