The New York Knicks had visions of this being a repeat of 1985 when they received the top pick in the NBA Draft, but it was not to be as the snakebit organization got the 4th pick in the NBA Draft Lottery on Tuesday night at the Hilton in Midtown.
The Minnesota Timberwolves received the top pick, followed by the Los Angeles Lakers, who will choose second, and the Philadelphia 76ers third.
The Knicks, Timberwolves, Sixers, and Lakers’ representatives were seated in the same row, so it was quite humorous when the Knicks’ representative, General Manager Steve Mills was left by himself in the row (pictured above) when Timberwolves Owner Glen Taylor, Sixers star Nerlens Noel, and Lakers Head Coach Byron Scott all got up for the revealing of their picks.
Mills addressed the media afterwards and here is what he said:
Q: History has proven that you can get a good draft pick at four. How do you feel about the pick?
Mills: We feel really good about this pick. We felt that in this draft we could have gotten a good player with any pick on through five. We went into this very optimistic and we will remain that way.
Q: What impact will free agency have on this draft pick?
Mills: It will have a big impact. What kind of guys we think will move in free agency and make our draft plans accordingly.
Q: Are you willing to wait for someone you choose with this pick to develop?
Mills: I think this pick is complementary to where we’re going, with a guy like Carmelo in place, and what we plan on doing with the $28 million we have in cap space. Even if we got the first pick, I think that player would take some time to develop, so our view hasn’t changed.
Q: How many of these guys have you worked out already?
Mills: We’ve worked out a couple of guys, in terms of having individuals and we haven’t worked any of them out on the court yet.
Q: What’s your view on Emmanuel Mudiay and his potential, since he’s projected around your pick range?
Mills: Mudiay is potentially a good player. We haven’t worked him out yet, but he’s a guy that we think will obviously be in the mix, but we will look at all of our options and we will feel good about whoever we end up selecting.
Minnesota Timberwolves Owner Glen Taylor on getting the top pick:
Q: To be able to add this first pick to Andrew Wiggins has to be very exciting, right?
Taylor: It’s very exciting for me and I think for our fans. There’s going to be a lot of enthusiasm – who you’re going to pick and how you’re going to do that. And that’s a process that will start now.
Q: Any inkling on what you might do with the No. 1 pick?
Taylor: No, I don’t think so. I really think that’s why you have somebody like Flip Saunders and his staff that has to pick players a little bit differently, getting into personalities and find out which guy will best fit the needs of our team.
Q: How soon does the joy and elation of tonight turn into pressure of making sure you get it right?
Taylor: It’s immediately. I think that Flip Saunders probably up to this moment was wishing he would get this. Now that he has that, I think it is a lot of pressure with our young team. We have to find the one guy that will work in and complement the other guys.
Q: How much will having Kevin Garnett help with a young team?
Taylor: Ever since Kevin said he was interested in coming to our team – he was the first person that we drafted when I bought the team. And I just think that his ability to be there with these young guys, to motivate them and tell them how hard it is to work towards it and how hard it is to get a championship – which he has and we haven’t. I think it will be a great thing.
Q: What are your thoughts on some of these players at the top of the draft?
Taylor: Flip has given me a list of about six guys that he wanted me to watch in the tournament and to do that. But I don’t know anything that you guys don’t know. I think what it’s into now is you want to know the heart, and which guy really wants to make the extra special effort to not only be good now but to be better. I’m a big believer that you can sit down and meet people, and find out which one is going to be the leader and which one is going to show the other guys that he’s going to help lead them to a championship.
Q: Is Flip definitely going to be the coach next season?
Taylor: It’s not definite but in my mind with the effort that he put in this year to bring this team along that it’s probably 90 percent. If he sees somebody and he changes his mind, he certainly could convince me. I think eventually I want a different coach. I want him to be the GM. My guess is that he’ll go another year.
Lakers Head Coach Byron Scott on getting the second pick:
Q: What kind of identity are you looking to build?
Scott: A lot of that will be determined in June with our draft picks and then obviously in July with free agency. There is still a whole lot of work to be done, but this is part one of probably a three-part series. We got this part done, so we look forward to the next part, which is June 25, and then July 1 is the third part.
Q: How did you feel leading up to today? Excited? Nervous?
Scott: More excited than anything. This is the first time I’ve done this. I was excited to do this because of our organization. You guys know how much pride I have in the organization, so this was a big deal to me. To be able to come here and secure the second pick, I guess I can go back home and say, “Damn, I’m sorry I didn’t get the first pick for you guys, but No. 2 ain’t bad.”
Q: Was there a sense of relief [when you knew you’d be keeping your own pick]?
Scott: That never really crossed my mind. The only thing that kept crossing my mind was No. 2, No. 2, because that number was thrown [around] so many times in the past two weeks. Like I was telling all my friends, I wanted No. 1. But I’ll settle for what we have right now.
Q: How do you feel that you were the only team in the lottery to move up?
Scott: I didn’t know it until you said it. That’s good, I guess. I’m very excited with what happened tonight and I’m looking forward to it.
Q: How much, if any, prep have you guys done with discussions about where you might end up and who you might take?
Scott: Mitch [Kupchak], Jim [Buss] and I never discussed that. A matter of fact, I will meet Mitch tomorrow when I get off the plane, go right to the office and we’ll start discussing it. He just said, “Good luck.” We never talked about the process or if we had the first pick or the second or the third or the fourth.
Q: Were you as nervous as when you coach your team?
Scott: I wasn’t nervous. I felt pretty good. I told our guys earlier today, “I have a really good feeling about tonight.” I don’t hope to be back here anytime soon, either, but I’m happy with the way things turned out tonight.
Q: Do you feel like this is a way to announce that the Lakers are back?
Scott: I can’t say it’s a way to announce that we’re back. I think we’re on the right track.
Philadelphia 76ers star Nerlens Nowl addressed the media. Here is what he had to say:
Q: How do you feel?
Noel: I think it’s a good pick to have, an interesting pick. The whole front office is going to work it the best they can and pick the best available player.
Q: Do you worry about maybe not being with Philadelphia, given how Sam Hinkie likes to make trades?
Noel: No. That’s not on my mind it. I’m focused on helping build this team and being on the right path, bringing in the right coaches and the right young guys to really make a difference for us.
Q: How much do you familiarize yourself with the players that are available in the draft?
Noel: I’ve gotten to know a few of these young guys through this process, and over the summer. I know Willie (Cauley-Stein) and Karl (Anthony Towns) from Kentucky. I think it’s a great crop of guys and I think they can all come into the NBA and make a splash sooner than later. Hopefully, it will be for us.
Q: Was there a sense of disappointment when it came up at three?
Noel: No, not at all. We also have our picks next year. So, this year I think the third pick is a definite positive for us, and we’ll try to make it work as best we can.
Q: If you had to play general manager, how would you handle having this pick?
Noel: I would pick the best player on our board.
Q: If the two bigs are gone, who would you pick?
Noel: The two bigs aren’t gone, they’re right here in this room.
Q: Do you feel like you and Joel Embiid are the cornerstones of this franchise?
Noel: I think so. Me and Joel have been talking diligently and we feel really good about how things are going, happy with what the front office is doing. When they ask us to do stuff for the organization, we’re very open to it. We feel like we’re heading in the right direction.