Knicks president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry are optimistic in the franchise's future heading into the NBA draft and what is expected to be a busy free-agency period.
"We feel good about the summer," Mills said, according to Newsday's Steve Popper. "We feel we're in a position that it gives us an opportunity. We hope we get lucky and we land free agents. And if not, we'll keep building the way we're building. The space gives us an opportunity to be flexible in terms of how we deal with trades. We can take guys into our [salary cap] room in the trade process, it gives us the flexibility to continue to build the team the way we've been building it. But it gives us an opportunity to make it better in a way with free-agent or trade prospects."
Though they finished with an NBA-worst 17-65 record, the Knicks have just a 14 percent chance at winning the draft lottery -- and ultimately the Zion Williamson sweepstakes.
Their mid-season blockbuster trade of Kristaps Porzingis led to the acquisition of Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan and two first-round picks. But it also provided them an opportunity to deal players like Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee, giving the Knicks enough salary cap space for two max free agents in a class that will feature Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler and Kemba Walker, among other big names.
"The bottom line is somebody, whoever it is, if they don't want to be a part of what we're trying to build or being around us, then we have to move forward," Perry said. "There's nothing personal about it, but a matter of fact. We're going to move forward with players that embrace the culture that we're building, that embrace this city, this organization, what we're about. Obviously, our long-term goal is to become champions one day. That's our entire thinking."
Mills and Perry wrote in a letter earlier this month how "bright" they thought New York's future is, and they said they didn't feel additional pressure to land two big-name free agents.
"I always feel pressure to build this team and turn this team into success," Mills said. "But that pressure doesn't lead me to make decisions that are inconsistent with what I believe we should be doing. So I don't feel pressure to deviate from our plan if we don't get two big free agents. I don't feel that kind of pressure. The pressure is for us to continue with the process and build this team the way we're saying we're going to build it."