Kevin Knox is disturbed by some Knicks fans


CLEVELAND — As the Knicks face the prospect of setting the franchise record for most consecutive losses at 17 in Monday’s “Zion Bowl” against the Cavaliers, rookie Kevin Knox is upset some of the team’s fans aren’t more annoyed.

Knicks coach David Fizdale is also disappointed by the perception he’s coaching to lose games to ensure the best odds to win the lottery, with the top prize being a Duke Mack Truck named Zion Williamson.

Fizdale said he would never “cheat the game” like that.

In the summer, Knox thought the Knicks could contend for the eighth seed and get into the 37-win range. Instead, they are 10-45 — losers of 29 of their past 31 games. Knox sees giddiness on social media, and it gnaws at him.

“Yeah, a lot of fans, they always say some dumb stuff,’’ Knox said at the morning shootaround at Quicken Loans Arena. “You see it all the time with the tanking and want us to lose, stuff like that. It’s kind of stupid. They’re not really true New Yorkers. Real Knicks fans know that we’re trying to just take this year to just develop us young guys and then next year hopefully make a push.”

In his basketball career, Knox, 19, had never lost more than five games in a row. That came in Kentucky last season.

“Every night we’re just going to go out and just play hard. We’re going to compete at the highest level,” Knox said. “We might make some mistakes towards the end of the game which costs us the games. We’re in a lot of close games with a lot of great teams, playoff teams. That just shows you how close we are from winning those games.

“We’re just missing a couple of pieces. It’s really good for us young guys to go out there and play against some of those playoff teams and be able to be in games. We lose to the Raptors by five, it’s a playoff team. It’s good to see us — we’re getting better every single game.”

Indeed, the New York Lottery Police Department has worked overtime this season. But Fizdale said it’s key to differentiate coaching to lose and coaching to develop the future. He believes he has done the latter.

Of course, Fizdale went to the utter extreme after the season’s fifth game in benching 26-year-old Enes Kanter, arguably their most productive offensive player, for project rookie center Mitchell Robinson.

“I think there’s actually been teams that have come into games trying to lose a game,” Fizdale said. “That’s just not in our vocabulary. Do we play well every night? Do we do enough to win the game every night? Maybe not. But at the end of the day I know these guys are coming out to compete to win.

“I don’t read it and listen to it, so I don’t get caught up in [the fans’ reactions]. I just think there’s a difference between losing games and trying to lose games. That’s why I think a lot of people have cracked down on just the idea of, you’re just coming in to try to lose a game. You’re cheating the game. I won’t let our players do that.”

The Knicks haven’t won since beating the Lakers in Los Angeles five weeks ago on Jan. 4. The Cavaliers are 11-45.

If the Knicks somehow win Monday, they would go from worst in the league to third-worst, “ahead” of the Cavaliers and Suns.

In truth, the new lottery format has lessened the motivation to finish with the very worst record because the top three teams share the same odds for Williamson, at 14 percent. However, the worst record can’t fall worse than No. 5 — important in a draft considered shallow.