Team President Softens A Bit On Trading First Round Pick To Accelerate Rebuild Off 17-65

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — As far as Phil Jackson is concerned, everything is on the table.

Coming off the worst season in franchise history, the Knicks need a million things and Jackson, the team’s president and decider of all things, said Tuesday he will keep his options open as the offseason continues and he tries to quickly rebuild off a 17-65 disaster.

“Yes, we’ll consider everything,” Jackson said during a press conference at the team’s training facility in Tarrytown.

“When the picks come in on the 19th of May (in the Draft Lottery), everything starts to germinate from there. Do you move a pick 1, 2, 3, 4? That’s questionable. Do you move a pick 5 if that’s the alternative end result, and use it as a chip? Maybe. So there’s a lot of options that are out there,” he added.

The Knicks finished with the second-worst record in the NBA behind Minnesota, meaning they have a 19.9 percent chance of landing the No. 1 overall pick in the lottery. Jackson had previously said he wants to rebuild the Knicks quickly through free agency, and would strongly consider trading the pick regardless of its position.

On Tuesday, however, he sounded more like an executive willing to be a bit more patient in order to construct a team that can win for a long time, characterizing “bigs” as a priority. Jackson who is finishing up the first year of his five-year contract, alluded to some good fortune that shined down on the Knicks in the 1980s when the team was struggling to be competitive.

“We love the fact that 30 years ago Patrick Ewing, who I think the Knicks were third in the lottery system at that time, came out first and he was a player with this organization for over 15 years,” Jackson said. “That moved the franchise in a way in which everybody recognizes. And we think there are a couple players in this draft that might be able to do that.

“So we’re certainly not going to walk away from a situation like that even if it takes the fact that we might have to sit on our hands for a year in the growth process and watch Carmelo (Anthony) come back off an injury and then regenerate for another year after this, provide more support as we go forward,” Jackson added.

Ultimately, what the Knicks will do will likely depend on where they end up in the lottery. It appears Jackson would be willing to slow down his rebuilding clock for just a handful of players, and the assumption is Duke’s Jahlil Okafor, Kentucky’s Karl-Anthony Towns and Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russell would be on the short-short list.

Jackson estimated that the Knicks are around $30 million under the salary cap, and regardless of what they do with their pick will be using most of their money to add pieces around Anthony.

Jackson also made it clear the Knicks did not in any way tank this season after Anthony went down with a season-ending knee injury.

“The idea wasn’t even proposed or talked about,” he said.

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