Potential No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz was at Madison Square Garden on Sunday to take in Knicks-Raptors from a courtside seat. He's been to Wizards and Sixers home games, too, recently, "just to see the way they play."
So after watching the Knicks' triangle offense up close, does Fultz think he can thrive in New York?
"I think I could play in any system," he said. "I’m very versatile, so it was cool to see that. It’s a lot of openings and stuff like that, so that’s why I came to see that in person."
The Knicks would have to get awfully lucky on lottery night to be in position to draft Fultz, who is widely viewed as a top-three pick (and that's being conservative).
After Sunday's 110-97 loss, New York (30-51) owns the sixth-worst record in the NBA. They can tie Philadelphia for the fifth-worst record if the Sixers win on Monday against Indiana and in the season finale on Wednesday against the Knicks. If New York wins on Wednesday, there is a chance it could end up higher than sixth in the "lottery stands," which would diminish their odds of landing a top pick. If the Knicks finished with the sixth-worst record, they'd have a 6 percent chance of landing the top pick and a 21 percent chance of drafting in the top three.
But if Phil Jackson & Co. beat the odds and find themselves in position to draft Fultz, they'd get a guard who'd be happy in New York.
"It would be amazing. It’s close to home," says Fultz, who grew up in Washington, D.C. "My family can come out, and this is the greatest place to play, really, in New York -- big stadium, a lot of good fans."
Fultz also said he'd be intrigued by the possibility of playing with Kristaps Porzingis ("He can shoot the 3 and get to the rim") and playing under Jackson.
"He’s a great coach, really," Fultz said. "He knows what he’s doing. Obviously he has a couple rings."
In addition to being fans of Fultz and Lonzo Ball (just like the rest of the NBA), some members of the Knicks organization also see Kentucky guards Malik Monk and De'Aaron Fox, French guard Frank Ntilikina and forwards Josh Jackson and Jayson Tatum as potential draftees. Obviously, most decision-makers in the NBA see the players named above as top prospects as well. Whom the Knicks end up with largely will depend on how lucky they are in the lottery.
Marbury says Knicks can thrive with culture change: Fultz wasn't the only well-known player to watch Knicks-Raptors on Sunday. Ex-Knick Stephon Marbury took in the game from a courtside seat with his teenage son. Marbury took a few minutes to talk to reporters about being back at the Garden and about the current state of the Knicks:
On the triangle offense: "I actually like the triangle because it opens things up if you know how to move without the ball and you know how to cut. It all comes down to -- that’s basically the game you learn when you’re in high school and you’re younger. Pass, cut. You learn that type of system. So it’s basically the fundamentals of basketball, which makes it extremely difficult to guard when you’re cutting hard and you’re making the ball move. It all depends. But you’ve got guys like [Carmelo Anthony]. He requires the ball in a certain position, in a certain spot. They knew this before they gave him all of the money that they gave him. So it’s not like you didn’t know this. You’re just trying to mix the two components together -- the triangle and his style ... Next year these guys will be a little more familiar with the system."
On whether things can turn around for the Knicks: "It can change; it’s just going to take some commitment and some time. It’s the culture, really. You got to continue to change the culture. When you get a guy like Phil Jackson, you expect the culture to change right away and things to change right away. But ultimately it takes a lot of time. But with him as the leader, him being the person that’s making the decision, I think they’re in a great space in having somebody like that."
On whether Anthony should accept a trade from New York: "No, I don’t think that he should seek a new home. He should allow the situation to go the way how the situation is going to go. I think, from what he’s said and what I’ve read, that he wants to play basketball here. They have to continue to build around him, Derrick Rose. You have two key guys that are really talented players. They’re not old. They still have a lot inside of them. So I think if he felt like it was time for him to make a decision, I think he would have said that by now. ... He understands if he wins what it will be like here. Sometimes you’ve got to go through the tough times and all of the dark times in order to get to the light."
Marbury has had incredible success playing in China, winning three CBA titles after his tenure with the Knicks ended poorly. He was waived in 2008 after an unsuccessful four-year run with his hometown team that came to a conclusion after a feud with then-coach Mike D’Antoni.
At peace now with how things ended in New York, Marbury says he plans to retire after next season and hopes to get involved in coaching, possibly in the NBA. He received a loud ovation from fans after being featured on the MSG video board. Marbury said he appreciated the crowd "paying respect."
"As I said, I’ve always been a Knicks fan since I was growing up. So that will never change. I’ve moved past the things that happened past in order to be able to have done all the things I’ve been able to do in China. ... It’s great to be recognized in that light and it’s good to be back."