Kristaps Porzingis Knicks Lakers
Kristaps Porzingis of the New York Knocks blocks an attempt from Nick Young of the Los Angeles Lakers on Dec. 11, 2016 during their NBA game in Los Angeles. Getty Images

Once perennial contenders, the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks have had less success than almost any other NBA franchise in the last four years. Heading into the 2017 NBA Draft, L.A. is on the verge of returning to prominence while things seem to only be getting worse for New York.

Despite their recent failures, Los Angeles is a desired free-agent destination for some of the league’s biggest stars. It’s no secret that Paul George wants to play for L.A. when his contract is up in 2018, and there are rumors that LeBron James could also make Staples Center his home if he decides to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers. New York isn’t attracting any stars, and they might even be on the verge of losing their two best players.

READ: Kristaps Porzingis, Carmelo Anthony Trade Rumors

How is it that the two teams are headed in such opposite directions? Even though neither one has been in the playoffs since 2013, the Knicks have actually had much more success. Going 31-51 this past year, New York has recorded more than 30 victories in three of the last four seasons. The Lakers haven’t won more than 27 games during that time.

More losses, however, has meant a brighter future for the Lakers. Thursday night marks the third straight year in which L.A. will have the second overall pick in the draft. The team just traded their 2015 pick, D’Angelo Russell, to the Brooklyn Nets in what was essentially a salary dump, but the team has high hopes for Brandon Ingram, whom they took in 2016. Los Angeles is targeting UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball this time around, and he’s drawn comparisons to Jason Kidd.

The Knicks didn’t have a pick in the 2016 draft because of previous trades. They were also without a first-rounder in 2014 and 2012. New York is expected to take what they hope to be their point guard of the future at No.8 overall Thursday, but they might be out of the range where they could land a potential star.

New York struck gold two years ago when they took Kristaps Porzingis with the No.4 overall pick. A 7’3 stretch-five that can defend the rim and shoot three-pointers, the 21-year-old is truly one of the most unique talents in the league. Just about every team would consider him to be an untouchable asset, but the Knicks are exploring the possibility of sending him elsewhere.

The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Wednesday night that the Knicks had called teams with a top-four draft pick, inquiring about their interest in Porzingis. A deal doesn’t seem likely since the Knicks have a high asking price, but Phil Jackson’s comments regarding his openness to trading Porzingis did little to help what might be turning into a tenuous relationship between New York and their best young player.

Jackson hasn’t made the right moves to put a winner on the court since becoming the team’s president in 2014, but the way he’s publicly treated the Knicks’ few stars can’t be overlooked. He’s been critical of both Porzingis and Carmelo Anthony while trying to force Anthony out of New York, turning the Knicks into a franchise that NBA players want to avoid.

New York’s best course of action might be to deal Anthony, though he doesn’t have the same value that he did a few years ago. Anthony has a no-trade clause, and it looks like the one star player that actually wants to play for the Knicks is the one the team is trying to get rid of.

Magic Johnson’s tenure as president of basketball operations for the Lakers is still in its infancy. Perhaps he’ll struggle in his new role with the team, and the Lakers' recent draft picks have yet to turn into proven players. The future, however, appears to be bright for L.A.

READ: Lakers Trying To Trade For Paul George, Sign LeBron James In 2018

Los Angeles has three first-round picks in Thursday’s draft. The team could decide to package a few of those selections together in order to get a proven player, possibly acquiring George a year earlier than expected. L.A. won’t benefit from having another losing season in 2017-2018 because they don’t own their first-round pick in next year’s draft.

The NBA is more exciting when both the Lakers and Knicks are good. L.A. is well on their way to being relevant again. New York can’t seem to get out of its own way, and two more years of Jackson doesn’t provide much hope for the team’s immediate future.