Knicks president Phil Jackson drafted a young Latvian athlete who needs time to develop and also acquired a mature guard who can help now and a Spaniard who will remain overseas.
Were Jackson's efforts enough to turn the 17-win Knicks into a playoff team or give 31-year-old All-Star Carmelo Anthony the supporting cast he needs to contend?
Jackson will address the Knicks' needs for big men, wing players and depth when free agency starts next week. But he believes he helped the Knicks in the short and long terms on Thursday night.
Jackson took 7-1 forward Kristaps Porzingis with the No. 4 pick in the NBA Draft, traded for Notre Dame guard Jerian Grant, who had been the No. 19 pick, and also acquired the draft rights to Guillermo Hernangomez, a center from Spain.
Jackson was asked if he factored in Anthony's age when he selected Porzingis. He said he did. "Carmelo is always on my mind," Jackson said during Friday's news conference. "He's our favorite son. At this point in his life, that's the way it should be. But the second-most-important thing is what we do for this franchise. And that has to be a consideration. And I let Melo know that as we made this choice."
Anthony tweeted that he remains committed to the organization and seemed to suggest that he's on board with the plan.
"What's understood doesn't need to be spoken upon," Anthony tweeted Friday night, adding the hashtags "#DestiNY" and "#TheFutureisNow."
Anthony is entering the second year of a five-year, $124- million contract and is coming off season-ending knee surgery. He undoubtedly wants to contend now, but the Knicks, who last made the playoffs in 2013, have just begun their rebuilding efforts.
Porzingis, 19, is considered a great athlete and prospect with the ability to play inside and out on both ends of the floor. He's a self-motivated big man and Jackson believes he will be worth the wait.
Jackson called drafting Porzingis "a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" and acknowledged it was "going to be rough" no matter which 19-year-old player the Knicks picked. Jackson said Anthony watched Porzingis work out Monday. Jackson also texted Anthony after picking Porzingis, but he wouldn't reveal anything else.
Porzingis, who has played professionally in Spain since age 15, has been compared to Pau Gasol and Dirk Nowitzki. He said he watched them as well as Kevin Garnett, LaMarcus Aldridge and Anthony Davis and learned from them.
Jackson likened Porzingis to Gasol and credited Knicks executive and longtime confidant Clarence Gaines Jr. for bringing Porzingis to their attention.
"When someone says to me this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I have to be aware and consider that after he's been in this league as long as he has," Jackson said.
Porzingis will play on the Knicks' summer league team in Las Vegas next month.
"I have to prove myself now against the best players in the world in the best league in the world," Porzingis said. "For me, it's a huge challenge. Now is the time to prove that I'm worthy of playing in the NBA."
Grant is confident that he can make an immediate impact. "I do think I am able to come in and start and help this team right away," he said.
"I think there was good DNA that went along with the choice," Jackson said, noting that Grant is the son of former NBA player Harvey Grant and the nephew of Horace Grant.
"His uncle was a great player for four championship teams that I coached,'' Jackson said. "We think there's something there that will translate for us."
Jackson should have more than $25 million available to spend in free agency and will be active.
The Knicks are expected to pursue Greg Monroe of the Pistons, Aldridge and Wesley Matthews Jr. of the Trail Blazers, Kevin Love of the Cavaliers, David West of the Pacers and Goran Dragic of the Heat, among others, in what is a deep free-agent class.
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