Thinking about future, Phil Jackson makes 2018 1st-round pick off limits

NEW YORK -- Friday night’s 109-98 loss to the Brooklyn Nets certainly felt like rock bottom for the New York Knicks.

New York dropped its first game after the All Star break, losing to one of the NBA’s worst teams.

The final margin was 11 points, but that doesn’t convey how poorly New York played in the second half. The Nets used separate runs of 20-2 and 16-2 after halftime to take control.

“We gave this game away tonight,” Carmelo Anthony said.

The Knicks also may have given up any hope of making a playoff run. The Knicks have dropped seven straight and 11 of 12; they trail the eighth-place Chicago Bulls by six games.

With 26 games to play, that may not seem insurmountable. But it’s worth noting that ESPN’s playoff odds tracker gave the Knicks a 0.5 percent chance at making the playoffs before Friday's loss.

So barring something unforeseen, this team will fall short of its stated goal of making a playoff run.

Maybe they'd have a better shot at a postseason berth if Phil Jackson & Co. upgraded the roster prior to Thursday's deadline. The Knicks expressed interest in guards Jeff Teague, Ricky Rubio and Kevin Martin but didn’t execute a deal.

Jackson said last week that he didn’t have a strong cadre of assets to use in potential trades, so it’s not a huge surprise that the Knicks couldn’t strike a deal for an impact player.

But the asset Jackson held on to Thursday showed he may be taking a different approach than past Knicks executives.

Jackson’s firm rule at the trade deadline, per league sources, was that the Knicks hold on to their 2018 first-round pick.

It’s unclear how frequently the Knicks were asked for the pick in the days leading up to the trade deadline, but what is clear is that it was off limits, according to league sources familiar with the club’s thinking.

“Phil said that they weren’t dealing it,” was how one source put it.

In years past, the Knicks dealt future draft picks to bring in players they believed would help them in the present.

New York sent Denver its 2014 first-round pick in the Carmelo Anthony trade; it also agreed to swap its 2016 first-round pick with the Nuggets' in that transaction.

That 2016 pick? The Knicks don't have that one, either. They agreed to send it to Toronto via the Andrea Bargnani trade.

So with no pick in this draft, it’s understandable that Jackson would want to hold on to the 2018 pick. The pick may give Jackson a chance to add another young, talented player around 20-year-old Kristaps Porzingis.

Pairing Porzingis with a top rookie in 2018 would give the Knicks a future worth getting excited about.

That's two years away, though. There, of course, are plenty of "what ifs" between this weekend and the 2018 draft. Still, for the Knicks fan out there, it's probably more comforting thinking about a potentially bright future than it is about the present.

There isn't much to get excited about right now with the Knicks. That much was clear on Friday night in Brooklyn.