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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Friday / June 14.
  • Knicks’ Gamble Means No Lottery Picks

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    Only seven NBA teams finished with a worse record than the Knicks during the 2009-10 NBA season.

    But if you’re a Knicks’ fan, don’t look for your team to begin the turnaround with Tuesday night’s NBA draft lottery in Secaucus, N.J. (8 p.m., ESPN).

    The Utah Jazz (29-53) now owns the Knicks’ pick — projected as ninth overall — and actually have a 2.2 percent chance of landing the rights to the No. 1 overall pick.

    That pick figures to be Kentucky point guard John Wall, whom the Knicks could desperately use, although Ohio State’s Evan Turner is another strong option for teams who already have a quality floor general.

    The Knicks traded this year’s pick to the Phoenix Suns in the Stephon Marbury deal. On Feb. 19, 2004, the Suns turned around and dealt the pick, along with another first-rounder and Tom Gugliotta, to Utah for Keon Clark and Ben Handlogten.

    “We made the trade knowing that one day the pick would be unprotected,” Kevin O’Connor, the Jazz VP of basketball operations, told the Daily News earlier this year. “But you have to remember, [Knicks president] Donnie [Walsh] wasn’t involved in the trade at all.”

    Meantime, the Knicks are hoping to rebuild quickly via the free agent front and must hold out hope that LeBron James’ early playoff exit at the hands of the Boston Celtics will expedite his exit from Cleveland.

    The Knicks have more than $30 million in salary-cap space to spend on two max-contract free agents, with James, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and Joe Johnson at the top of the wish list.

    But as far as supplementing those stars with top draft picks, forget about it.

    The Knicks traded Jordan Hill, the No. 8 overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, to bring aging veteran Tracy McGrady to New York while also freeing up cap space.

    As part of that three-team deal, the Rockets and Knicks also swapped first-round picks in 2011 and the Knicks’ surrendered their first-round pick in 2012.

    The 2011 pick is top-1 protected and the 2012 pick is top-5 protected.

    “Its definitely a gamble,” said Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com “You’re essentially mortgaging your future and putting yourself in a position where you have no margin for error. What we need to keep in mind is, I’m not sure Donnie Walsh had much of a choice here. His hands were tied by the previous regime and he had almost no other assets [except Danilo Gallinari] to work with. It’s almost an impossible situation he was put in.”

    After making the McGrady deal in February,  Walsh said he’s “hopeful” that those picks won’t turn out to be very high once they’re used.

    “I’m hopeful, but I don’t know,” he said. “That’s the risk, that you don’t know.”

    He insisted he has added “flexibility” to the franchise and remains confident that his plan is coming along nicely.

    “I thought it was a good bet,” he said. “This puts the franchise in a position where it can build a contending team.”

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.

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