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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Knicks Interviewing Guards, Wings Ahead of NBA Draft Lottery
CHICAGO — Phil Jackson and the Knicks will learn their NBA Draft Lottery fate on Tuesday night.
Following a 31-51 season, the Knicks are currently slotted seventh with an 18.3 percent chance at a top-3 pick and 5.3 percent chance at the No. 1 overall pick, widely expected to be Washington guard Markelle Fultz.
The Knicks also have two second-round picks, currently slotted at Nos. 45 and 58 by DraftExpress.com.
“We want to get the first pick,” Jackson said here Friday. “We’re rooting for those little balls. We’ve got a lot of bigs. Everyone wants a great big player. Right now we have four centers, guys with experience. Right now we’re looking for wings and a guard.”
Derrick Rose is a free agent and is also coming off a torn meniscus suffered last month, so the Knicks are in the market for a point guard.
The Knicks contingent of Jackson, GM Steve Mills, assistant GM Allan Houston and coach Jeff Hornacek met here with several guards and wings, including Fultz, who did not address the media, Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox, a projected top-5 pick, North Carolina small forward Justin Jackson, a projected lottery pick, and Duke point guard Frank Jackson, projected to go late in the first or early in the second. The Knicks also reportedly met with Iowa State point guard Monte Morris and Kansas floor general Frank Mason, both projected second-round picks.
For his part, Fox said he’d love to play with Knicks’ star Kristaps Porzingis.
“I don’t know too much about the triangle,” he said. “Everyone says it’s hard 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. He’s great and if I get to play with him, I feel like we can do something special.”
All of the players who met with the Knicks expressed some degree of awe at actually meeting face-to-face with Jackson, who won 11 NBA titles as a head coach, including six with the Chicago Bulls, but is 80-166 in three years as President.
“Man, it was crazy,” Duke’s Frank Jackson said. “I walked into the room and I was like, you’ve gotta be kidding me. It was crazy, I was kind of starstruck.”
Jackson, who signed with Kevin Bradbury of BDA this week, also met with Boston, San Antonio, Charlotte, Utah, New Orleans, Detroit and Sacramento at the Combine.
Meantime, North Carolina small forward Justin Jackson, who led the Tar Heels to the NCAA championship last month, had a similar experience when meeting The Zenmaster.
“I met with the Knicks first [Wednesday],” he said. “You know, it’s kind of crazy to see Phil Jackson there. He holds so much power. He just asked some questions. It was cool meeting with them, they were an extremely cool group and so I would be honored and blessed to be drafted by them.”
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.