The Knicks lost twice on Friday.
New Orleans defeated New York at the Smoothie King Center in NOLA to keep their hopes of avoiding the play-in alive.
Dallas lost to Chicago at the American Airlines Center in Texas and officially got eliminated from the playoffs race with one game left to be played.
With the Mavs out of contention for a postseason berth, whether that’s via play-in or straight qualification, they’re now locked into a bottom-10 finish in the Association standings, which means they won’t drop below the 14th slot of the upcoming NBA draft when the lottery is held in a few weeks.
That means the Knicks—who don’t have their own pick, now in possession of Portland after New York traded for Josh Hart—are at risk of not having a first-round pick in the 2023 draft.
New York acquired Dallas’ 2023 first-round pick in the Tim Hardaway Jr. trade, but the Mavs worked out a deal in which they secured top-10 protection in the event they crashed out of the play-in portion of the season this year.
If the draft pick doesn’t convey this year it would have the same protections the next two years, and if the pick keeps dodging the Knicks, then it will eventually turn into a second-round selection after that.
According to Tankathon.com‘s lottery odds page, and as things stand through Friday’s games, Dallas’ pick has slightly over a 20% chance of falling outside of the top 10. The Knicks would get the pick if it ends up in the 11th (19% odds), 12th (1.2%), 13th, or 14th (tiny odds) places.
The Mavericks aren’t dumb and they surely knew about this situation all the way, which is why they did what they did on Friday night when they hosted Chicago.
Before playing yesterday’s game, Dallas still had a chance of winning their final two games, making the play-in, and handing New York their pick.
Mark Cuban decided to deploy the tanks instead—even with the last game of the season in Dallas’ schedule being a ridiculously easy-to-win affair with the San Antonio Spurs. Alas, the Dallas Mavericks won’t be a postseason team for the first time since 2019.
Kyrie Irving, Tim Hardaway Jr., Josh Green, Maxi Kleber, and Christian Wood all rested Friday. Luka Doncic played 13 minutes.
Coach Jason Kidd said that “the organization had made the decision” to tank before yesterday’s game, adding that “the guys that are playing are gonna go out and try to play to win, you gotta be pros, you can’t cheat the game” in reference to having to deal with sitting multiple starters.
“It’s not so much waving the white flag,” Kidd said. “Decisions sometimes are hard in this business. We’re trying to build a championship team. With this decision, this is maybe a step back. But hopefully, it leads to going forward.”
The NBA lottery will take place on Tuesday, May 16. The Knicks are currently looking at this situation, courtesy of Tankathon.com.