Ian BegleyCloseESPN Staff Writer
- Covers the New York Knicks for ESPNNewYork.com
Thirty-four years sinceNew York Knicksgreat 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 phenomZion Williamson, the team announced Saturday.
“Patrick is a huge part of our team’s history and we’re thrilled to have number 33 represent the franchise at this year’s draft lottery,” said Knicks president Steve Mills. “Patrick’s connection to the lottery is well documented, and we’re proud to have one of the all-time Knicks greats sit on the dais on behalf of the team, the city and the fans.”
The Knicks finished the season with the worst record in the NBA. New York, thePhoenix Sunsand theCleveland Cavaliers— the teams that finished with the three worst records — 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, 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 team 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 “all the time” about the Knicks’ chances of landing Williamson and free agentKevin Durant.
Williamson, who on Friday won the John R. Wooden Award as college basketball’s best player, declined to say whether he would joinDuketeammatesRJ BarrettandCam Reddishin 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.