After a career of operating in the shadows, William ‘Worldwide’ Wesley is stepping into the spotlight.
The Knicks executive and backroom basketball operator will represent the team at the draft lottery Tuesday in Chicago, where James Dolan’s squad will face long odds to move into the top-4.
Wesley, nicknamed ‘Worldwide Wes,’ had been a connector and relationship specialist often benefitting Kentucky basketball and agency CAA before joining the Knicks in 2020 with his longtime associate, team president Leon Rose.
Wesley, whose official title is Executive Vice President of the Knicks, will try to reverse the luck of a franchise that hasn’t moved up in the lottery since the “frozen envelop” conspiracy in 1985.
The Knicks enter Tuesday’s drawing at No. 11 after finishing last season with a 37-45 record. They own just a two percent chance of landing the No. 1 pick and a 9.4% chance of cracking the top-4.
The most likely scenario is the Knicks pick 11th with a 77.6% chance. They can also move back to 12th (12.6% chance) but can’t pick 5th to 10th.
There is no clear-cut No. 1 pick this year but a top-4 pick could net the Knicks intriguing prospects Jabari Smith (Auburn), Paolo Banchero (Duke), Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga) or Jaden Ivey (Purdue).
Coincidentally, Wesley’s career took off in Chicago, where he resided in the 90s while connecting with Michael Jordan, among other luminaries.
Wesley was hired in New York with the hope of enticing superstars through his relationships. Over the first two years, it hasn’t bore fruit. The Knicks were a disappointment last season after an underwhelming 2021 summer that included the NBA’s most cap space but a swamp of wasted signings.
Rose, who worked with Wesley at CAA before they partnered with the Knicks, represented the team at the last lottery in 2020, when they entered the drawing in the seventh spot but fell to eighth.
Patrick Ewing represented the Knicks at the lottery in 2019, when they had the NBA’s worst record but fell to third in the draft.
Scott Perry (2018), Phil Jackson (2017) and Steve Mills (2015) were the previous Knicks representatives.
Wesley, who forged a relationship with Dolan over the years, hasn’t spoken publicly since joining the Knicks. The 57-year-old was privately blaming coach Tom Thibodeau for the team’s struggles last season, according to sources.
Wesley, according to SNY, even told Dolan that Thibodeau was the problem.
Thibodeau, who is returning for his third season as Knicks coach, brushed aside the reports of Wesley’s backstabbing.
“I talk to Wes all the time,” Thibodeau said in February. “I don’t respond to rumors or any of that stuff. I know the drill here. I’ve been here before (as an assistant with the Knicks), so I don’t worry about any of that stuff.”
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