Phil Jackson confident after Knicks fall to 8th: 'We're good at what we do'

NEW YORK -- Phil Jackson had a very Zen-like reaction to the New York Knicks' lack of luck on NBA draft lottery night.

"Our opportunity [at] seven could have been 10, so eight we'll live with," Jackson said. "I think that we're good at what we do."

Knicks fans probably didn't have the same measured reaction upon seeing New York fall to No. 8 in the draft.

New York entered the night with the seventh position in the draft lottery and a 57.2 percent chance to land the seventh pick. There was a 0.01 percent chance the Knicks would fall to 10th, which Jackson referenced above. And the Knicks had a 22.6 percent chance of ending the night with the No. 8 pick. That last scenario hit because the Kings moved into the lottery and swapped their pick with Philadelphia.

So the Knicks will pick eighth for the first time since 2008, when they selected Jordan Hill after missing out on targeted pick Stephen Curry.

It's worth noting here that New York at one point late in the season was tied for the fourth-worst record in the NBA. But the club won four of its final nine games to finish tied with Minnesota for the NBA's sixth-worst record. They then lost a tiebreaker with the Timberwolves to finish in the seventh lottery spot.

Knicks fans who pay close attention to the club shouldn't be all that surprised that New York fell to eighth on Tuesday. The Knicks haven't had great lottery luck over the years. They won the lottery in 1985 and selected Patrick Ewing, but the club hasn't moved up in their 14 lottery appearances since (2017 included). They've fallen behind in five of those drafts.

In an attempt to try to change that awful luck, legendary point guard Walt "Clyde" Frazier wore his two championship rings and had a rabbit's foot in his pocket while sitting on the dais Tuesday for New York.

"To no avail," he said afterward.

So now the Knicks are left with the eighth pick in what seems like a fairly deep draft. They also have as much as $19 million in cap space entering free agency. But their biggest move of the summer will come on draft night (June 22).

What can the Knicks get with the eighth pick?

Jackson reiterated that the club has a void to fill at guard and wing, so you can expect the focus to be on those positions. Frazier said getting a point guard is "obviously a first priority" and "crucial."

Just which point guard will be on the board at that point is unknown, of course. Members of the Knicks organization are high on De'Aaron Fox and Frank Ntilikina, among other guards. Fox will almost certainly be drafted in the top seven. Ntilikina might be available. Dennis Smith Jr. and Kentucky shooting guard Malik Monk, whom some in the organization like, could also be on the board when the Knicks pick.

Of course, there's also the Carmelo Anthony factor to consider. If the Knicks move Anthony before the draft, they might select a small forward rather than a point guard in order to replace him.

Jackson, as expected, didn't offer much Tuesday to tip the Knicks' hand. He said the club will begin workouts Wednesday. According to a source, North Carolina center Tony Bradley will be among the players working out, the first of dozens of players who will work out at the team facility in Westchester. Jackson believes that process will end with the Knicks adding a strong prospect.

"We'll get a talented young player, hopefully someone that can contribute this next year," he said.

Jackson added, though, that the Knicks will keep their options open, including possibly trading their pick. They have also discussed the option of acquiring another first-round pick through trade, according to sources. Some members of the organization like North Carolina's Justin Jackson, a projected late first-round pick.

The history of eighth overall picks isn't particularly strong. So Jackson's staff, which selected Kristaps Porzingis in 2015 but has amassed a 90-171 record over three-plus years -- will have to be as good as the Zen Master thinks they are in order to land an impactful player at eight.

Clyde thinks Melo should stay: Frazier was asked about some of the hot-button issues surrounding the Knicks, including a potential Anthony trade and Porzingis' decision to skip his exit meeting with Jackson over frustration with the state of the franchise. Unlike Jackson, who has stated that Anthony would be better off leaving the Knicks, Frazier believes Anthony should stick with the Knicks.

"I would like to see Melo stay," said Frazier, who is the color commentator for Knicks telecasts on MSG Network. "There's a lot of negativity going on right now, so I don't know. I don't think he's the problem. They have to improve defense, get some more talent, and having Melo would be fine."

Anthony, of course, holds all of the power, because he has a no-trade clause. Frazier added that he was "surprised" about the Porzingis situation.

"It doesn't seem like something that he would do," Frazier said. "I'm sure they'll rectify it. He's probably frustrated like all of us with the season that we had. We were more optimistic that we'd definitely be in the playoffs."

As of last week, the Knicks and Porzingis had not had any contact since Porzingis skipped his exit meeting. Lastly, Frazier predicted that Derrick Rose, a free agent this summer, will not be back with New York.

Hughes draws interest from Hawks: The Knicks granted the Atlanta Hawks permission to interview Mark Hughes, the Knicks' director of player personnel, for their general manager opening, league sources confirmed.

Hughes, a veteran executive with the organization since 2007, has been one of the key figures in the Knicks' recent draft success, which includes Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr., Channing Frye and Danilo Gallinari. The Knicks, of course, have made some poor picks in that span but have been largely successful in the draft.

The Hawks' interest in Hughes, and the Knicks' granting permission for an interview, was first reported by The Vertical. Hughes was a co-captain of the 1989 national championship team at Michigan and has coaching experience as an NBA assistant and CBA head coach.