NEW YORK -- Charles Barkley may be known as a notorious Knicks hater, but fresh off hosting "Saturday Night Live" last weekend, Barkley now says the Knicks are in their best position in years, and can continue to build a playoff team via the draft and their young players.
"It's the best it's been in a long time and it's getting better," Barkley, echoing comments he made last month, said Tuesday at a CBS/Turner media brunch in Manhattan. "It's unfortunate [Kristaps] Porzingis got hurt, but I'm telling you, I think they're getting better."
Barkley said he likes the young Knicks core of Porzingis, Frank Ntilikina and Emmanuel Mudiay, and is a big fan of center Enes Kanter, who has said he hopes to retire a Knick.
"I think that the Knicks are on the right path," Barkley said. "You guys here just have no patience. I think Porzingis is a terrific player. I like Ntilikina, I like those guys. I loves Enes Kanter. The problem is, you guys have no patience."
At 24-40, the Knicks currently own the NBA's ninth-worst record, but still have just a 6.1 percent chance of landing a top-3 pick in the NBA Draft, per Tankathon.
"I think they had an outside chance of making the playoffs this year before [Kristaps] Porzingis got hurt," he said.
"Now you're going to get another great pick to go around with that young nucleus. I'm telling you, patience, grasshopper."
He added: "You guys going to have another great draft pick this year. It's not a good thing that Porzingis got hurt but it's going to help y'all's draft position, so you just gotta be patient, man."
Barkley says the draft pick will be key.
For his money, Arizona big man Deandre Ayton is the best player in America, but the Knicks' chances of getting him appear remote at this stage. Memphis, Phoenix, and Dallas currently have the NBA's three worst records.
"It's going to be interesting with what they draft," Barkley said.
"I haven't seen the kid play from overseas [Luka Dončić] but the best player coming in America is that boy from Arizona, he's unbelievable," Barkley said before referencing the ESPN report that Arizona coach Sean Miller was allegedly caught on a federal wiretap offering to pay a runner $100,000 to land Ayton, something Miller has flatly denied.
"If they gave him $100,000," Barkley added, "where I'm from they call that a bargain."
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