Here’s the important math for the New York Knicks entering Tuesday night’s NBA draft lottery:
The Knicks finished in a tie with the Minnesota Timberwolves for the sixth-worst record in the NBA (thanks to four wins in their last nine games) and lost a tiebreaker to Minnesota a few days after the regular season. So New York enters the lottery with the seventh-best odds to land the No. 1 pick.
The Knicks will either end up with a top-three pick or a pick somewhere from 7-10, as teams can't slip more than three spots.
The Knicks have a 57.2 percent chance of landing in the seventh spot. There's a 22.6 percent chance they'll get the No. 8 pick, a 1.8 percent chance they'll get No. 9, and a 0.01 percent chance they'll end up with No. 10.
The Knicks have an 18.3 percent chance of landing a pick in the top three; they have a 7 percent chance of getting the third pick, a 6 percent chance of getting the second pick, and a 5.3 percent chance of getting the No. 1 overall pick, something that hasn’t happened since 1985.
Dressing and stressing: Walt “Clyde” Frazier will be sitting at the dais for the Knicks during the draft lottery (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). Team president Phil Jackson said he had a surprise in store as the Knicks' representative, and Frazier, a two-time NBA champ and one of the most beloved players in franchise history, is the pick. Some on social media wondered whether Jackson would stun everyone and choose disgruntled ex-Knick Charles Oakley. That was never going to happen (and Oakley was never asked, for the record). Frazier, who is close with Jackson, got the call.
A member of the Knicks' front office will be sequestered in a separate room during the actual drawing. (It was VP of basketball operations Jamie Matthews in 2015.) The Knicks will have 53 of a possible 1,001 four-number combinations assigned to the 14 lottery teams. Fourteen numbered pingpong balls will be placed in a lottery ball machine. Four balls are drawn from the machine at a time.
The team that owns the first four-ball combination that’s drawn will get the No. 1 pick. The club that owns the second four-ball combination drawn gets the second pick, and the team owning the third four-ball combination gets the third pick. After the first three slots are set, picks 4-14 will be determined by record.
Looking for a guard: Jackson made it clear when chatting with reporters at the NBA combine in Chicago that he’s looking for wings and guards in the draft and free agency. Members of the organization are high on guards Frank Ntilikina, De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk. If New York gets lucky enough to move up to the top three, some in the organization see Kansas’ Josh Jackson as a potential replacement for Carmelo Anthony if the club executes a trade of the 10-time All Star. New York, along with the rest of the NBA, is enamored with both Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball. Jackson himself interviewed Fultz and Fox at the combine, which ran from Tuesday through Sunday.
Fox told reporters that it was “cool” to interview with Jackson and other members of the Knicks' front office. He said they didn’t discuss particulars of the team’s triangle offense during the sit-down.
“I don’t know too much about the triangle,” Fox said. “Everyone says it's hard to learn. I like to learn, but if I go in there, I’ll have to learn quickly. And Porzingis, he’s amazing.
“Watching the NBA this year, I really paid attention to the NBA this year knowing I’m about to go into this business. I had to stop watching it as a casual fan and start thinking of it as a business aspect. [Porzingis] is great, and if I get to play with him, I feel like we can do something special.”
If you’re a Knicks fan, it’s worth paying attention to the draft order below New York. Some members of the organization are high on North Carolina’s Justin Jackson, according to sources. To get Jackson, who is projected as the No. 21 pick in Chad Ford's most recent mock draft, the Knicks likely would have to make a trade. A trade for a second first-round pick is something to keep an eye on in the coming weeks, particularly since Phil Jackson is motivated to move Anthony. (Whether Anthony is willing to waive his no-trade clause is unknown. Kenyon Martin, Jalen Rose, Max Kellerman and Stephen A. Smith all shared their opinion on the matter in recent days.)
Nonetheless, it’s clear that Jackson sees the first-round draft pick as an essential tool for team building. The Knicks also project to have close to $19 million in cap space to spend in free agency and almost certainly will be in trade discussions for Anthony in the coming weeks.
“As this talent pool is narrowed, it really is important to have both draftable players, tradable players and free agents. We want to look at all these options before we get into it,” Jackson said last week.
Whether Jackson, a 13-time NBA champion as a coach and player, can turn things around from here is unknown. The Knicks are 90-171 in three seasons since Jackson became president on March 18, 2014. He has two years remaining on his five-year contract, so it's unlikely -- barring an extension -- that the Knicks will make any deep playoff runs during Jackson's presidency.
But getting lucky on Tuesday night certainly could help set a foundation for future success.