Knicks president Phil Jackson attended the Ohio State-Nebraska game Thursday night and apparently liked what he saw from 6-foot-5 Buckeyes freshman guard D'Angelo Russell.
"He's a great-looking kid," Jackson said, according to Cleveland.com. "Great prospect."
On Friday, Jackson attended practice at the University of Kentucky, according to reports. Jackson was likely in Lexington to keep an eye on projected top pick Karl-Anthony Towns.
It makes sense for Jackson to scout some of the top college talent in person rather than worry about the 2014-15 Knicks.
At 10-46, New York has the worst record in the NBA and is on track to get a top pick in the draft. The team that finishes with the worst record has a 25 percent chance to land the top pick in the draft lottery and also is guaranteed a top-four pick.
That is key for the Knicks because many draft experts see four players at the head of the draft class: Russell, Duke freshman Jahlil Okafor, Towns and Emmanuel Mudiay, a guard who chose to play overseas this season instead of playing his freshman year and Southern Methodist University.
Jackson saw Okafor in person last month when he attended the St. John's-Duke game at Madison Square Garden.
He said earlier this month that he believes he can draft a player who can help the Knicks immediately. For a team building around 30-year-old Carmelo Anthony, this is key.
"A lot of the players in this day and age are one-and-done, 19-year-old players. There are some players that have a couple more years. And it’s difficult for these players to come in and become pros," Jackson said.
The challenge for the Knicks president -- and the rest of the organization -- is to find a player who can help lead the franchise to an elite level in the near future. Or to find the right trading partner for the player they choose.
Jackson will use his draft pick and $27 million-plus in cap space this summer to rebuild the team.
Will Phil get fined? The NBA may not be thrilled with Jackson for commenting on Russell, a player who hasn't declared for the draft. That's a fineable offense.
But Knicks fans should be encouraged to see their president watching some of the top college prospects in person. For $60 million -- which is Jackson's reported salary -- they should expect no less, actually.
Lottery odds: Something worth noting when talking about teams and the NBA lottery: The club that finishes with the top record has a 25 percent chance of landing the top pick, as noted above. The team with the second-worst record has a 19.9 percent chance of landing the No. 1 pick; the third-worst team has a 15.6 percent chance.
Since the lottery moved to its present format in 1994, the team with (or tied for) the best odds has won three of the 20 lotteries. (Philadelphia took Allen Iverson in 1996; Cleveland selected LeBron James in 2003; Orlando picked Dwight Howard in 2004.) So finishing with the worst record certainly doesn't guarantee you a No. 1 pick.
The team with the second-best odds has won the lottery twice since 1994, and the teams with the third- and fifth-best odds have won it four times each.