Thirty-four years since New York Knicks great Dave DeBusschere pumped his fist on a podium after landing the No. 1 pick to select future Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing, Ewing will now represent the franchise at the NBA draft lottery next month for a chance to draft Duke phenom Zion Williamson, league sources told ESPN.
The Knicks finished the season with the worst record in the NBA. New York, the Phoenix Suns and the Cleveland Cavaliers — the teams that finished with the worst three records in the NBA — will all have a 14 percent chance at landing the top pick.
Ewing, a Hall of Fame center who starred for the Knicks in the 1980s and 1990s, was selected with the No. 1 overall pick by New York in the 1985 draft. The franchise obviously hopes that Ewing brings it the same kind of luck at this year’s draft lottery, scheduled for May 14.
Because it finished with the league’s worst record, New York will select no lower than fifth in June’s draft.
The club hopes to use its lottery pick and the more than $70 million in cap space it will have this summer to vastly improve a roster that finished 17-65 this season, tying the worst record in franchise history.
That pursuit starts on the night of the draft lottery, when Ewing, the franchise’s all-time leader in points, rebounds, blocks and games played, will sit on the dais for the club.
In recent seasons, Knicks legend Walt Frazier, team president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry have represented the franchise on the night of the lottery.
Knicks head coach David Fizdale had Ewing speak to his club earlier this season on a trip to Washington to play the Wizards.
Ewing, currently the head coach at Georgetown, said in an interview earlier this week that he is asked about the Knicks’ chances of landing Williamson and free agent Kevin Durant “all the time.”
Williamson, who on Friday won the John R. Wooden Award as college basketball’s best player, declined to say whether he would join Duke teammates RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish in declaring for the draft, drawing laughter from the crowd when he said, “Umm, who knows?”
Ewing’s Knicks career ended awkwardly.
He reportedly requested a trade in 2000 because the club declined to extend his contract. The resulting trade, which sent Ewing to Seattle in his 16th season, saddled the Knicks with long-term salary commitments to players with middling talent. It also started a rocky period for the club. New York has won just one playoff series since Ewing, an 11-time All Star, was traded.