The NBA Draft Lottery will be held on Tuesday night and New York Knicks have a slight chance to get into the top three. The Brooklyn Nets? Well, they blew that chance long ago.
The New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets are not just two of the sorriest teams in the NBA, they’re two of the sorriest teams in all of professional sports. They both need a ton of help to become competitive again but where that help will come from is anyone’s guess. Free agents are shying away from both teams for different reasons, so they’ll find little to choose from there. Also, don’t expect either to score big in the NBA Draft this year, either.
On Tuesday, May 16th, the league will hold their annual draft lottery in a private room that will be televised live on ESPN. Representatives from the 14 teams that did not qualify for the playoffs this season will be in attendance as their team’s futures hinge on the bouncing ping pong balls in the lottery bin.
The Knicks, who finished 31-51 this year (they won 31 games, really?) have 5.3% chance of winning the lottery’s first pick. The Nets, who finished with the worst record in the NBA (20-62) have a 25% chance but, as fate would have it, no longer own the rights to that pick.
Why? Well, thanks to former GM Billy King’s failed folly, the 2013 trade with the Boston Celtics, in which the Nets ended up forking over their future for some short-lived success. Very short-lived success, as it turned out.
The trade was supposed to make the Nets an instant contender and fill the new Barclays Arena with playoff basketball. They acquired Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and D.J. White from the Boston in exchange for Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks, Kris Joseph, Keith Bogans and three first round draft picks (2014, 2016 and 2018), as well as the right to swap first round picks in 2017, which Boston has exercised.
That trade did make the Nets a contender, but for just one season. They lost in the conference semifinals, made the playoffs the next season with a losing record and have fallen off the basketball landscape since. Plus, all of the players they traded for are no longer with the team. Last season, they fell to 21-61, the third-worst record in the NBA.
Boston has benefited greatly as will continue to do so. They not only dumped the salaries of the three aging veterans, GM Danny Ainge has taken advantage of the Nets’ generosity to bulid the Celtics back into a winner. They are currently in the Eastern Conference finals against LeBron James and Cleveland.
With the Nets’s picks thus far, Ainge has selected Kentucky guard James Young in 2014 and forward Jaylon Brown (2016 3rd overall). Young hasn’t panned out yet but Brown has become part of a young core on coach Brad Stevens’ club. Now, with the possible first pick in their hands this year, Boston has more options to get even better by using the pick or trading it for a package of picks and players. Plus, with Brooklyn expected to be a bust again next season, expect Ainge and crew to be licking their chops again this time next year.
In addition to the windfall they received from the Nets, the Celtics have obtained two additional first round picks in 2019, one from the Clippers and the other Memphis, which is a top-8 protected pick. So, if the Knicks and Nets aren’t with watching by then, fans can at least come out to see these high-flying Celtics when they come to town.
The Nets will not participate in the lottery but have two picks in the first round of the draft, to be held June 22 at (where else?) Barclays Center, but they had to make a trade with Washington to get one of those picks (No. 22). They also have Boston’s pick, which is the 27th overall selection.
The Knicks will be part of the lottery process, with Walt Frazier present as their rep, but they aren’t expected to get in the first three, so they’re likely to end up with the seventh or eighth overall pick.
It’s no secret the Knicks could use a point guard and with the seventh pick could have a choice of N.C. State’s Dennis Smith or the 6’5” French product, Frank Ntilikina. But with Phil Jackson at the helm, everything is in play these days.