Influential voices in the NBA have strongly advised Ujiri not to take the job, if it’s ever offered, sources say. But those same sources say Ujiri might do it anyway, if the money is right, if he’s granted the necessary autonomy and if Dolan funds Giants of Africa as generously as the Raptors ownership group has. Ujiri’s contract is believed to run through 2021 but with an out clause under certain circumstances. He turned down a lucrative extension last summer, sources said, leaving the impression that he wants to keep his options open.
The Knicks have hired and fired five lead basketball executives since 2004, including legendary NBA figures from Isiah Thomas to Donnie Walsh to Phil Jackson. All departed under clouds of various shapes, sizes and despairing shades of gray. Maybe it will be different for the next guy. Maybe the Knicks get lucky and lure a gifted executive like Toronto's Masai Ujiri to fix this mess. Some NBA sources believe it's possible.
Sources say Dolan is indeed enamored of Toronto's Masai Ujiri, who has twice fleeced the Knicks in trades (again, see Anthony, Carmelo and Bargnani, Andrea) and who last June presided over the first championship in Raptors history.
With Knicks president Steve Mills on shaky ground until the club shows progress, owner James Dolan could make another run at Raptors president Masai Ujiri. According to a source, if Mills is fired after the season, Dolan likely would renew his quest for Ujiri, who built the Raptors 2019 title team. “Why wouldn’t he — he’s the best GM in the league,’’ one NBA source said.
Ian Begley: Keith Bogans, who worked as an assistant with the Westchester Knicks, will join Mike Miller’s staff as an assistant, the Knicks say.
These last two seasons fall directly on Mills, who, according to sources, will either be reassigned or simply removed from the building. His expiration date is long overdue. The Athletic reported last month that Dolan will try again to pry Raptors President Masai Ujiri from Toronto. If that doesn’t work, maybe NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will point Dolan toward R.C. Buford, Sam Presti, Neil Olshey and Daryl Morey. The Knicks are in the early stages of another massive overhaul that will only work if Dolan gives his next executive savior full autonomy.
Tommy Beer: Good morning. Steve Mills has been a part of the Knicks organization for 13 of the past 16 seasons, and NY posted a losing record in each of those 13 campaigns. Dating back to 2001, the Knicks have had far more head coaches (13) than playoff wins (7). forbes.com/sites/tommybee…
If Fizdale is fired in-season, he'll have two years left on his contract, according to reports. It's unclear if those two years are fully guaranteed. Mills and Perry also have years remaining on their deals. Mills, per sources, has a double option on one of the remaining years of his deal. So Dolan would pay them money not to work if he decides to fire them.
If Mills fires Fizdale, the next question is if he and Perry will keep their jobs beyond this season. In a conversation with Mills and other front office members after the Mills/Perry press conference, Dolan gave off the impression that Mills and Perry would be safe if the team showed progress, as SNY reported. Just how Dolan defines progress is unclear. But if Fizdale is fired, it seems as if the Knicks would have to play much better under the interim coach for Mills and Perry to keep their jobs and have a chance to hire another coach in the offseason.
Dolan had interest in pursuing Ujiri, the former Nuggets GM, after firing Phil Jackson in 2017, but the draft compensation was too large, according to sources. Instead he promoted Mills. There’s speculation Dolan would make another run at Ujiri if he gets a chance. “He’s the best GM in the league, why wouldn’t Dolan be interested if there’s an opening,’’ one NBA source who has spoken to the Knicks said.
Dolan had a conversation with Mills and other members of the front office the day after the press conference. Per SNY sources, Mills and management came away with the impression that they would be safe if New York showed progress. The Knicks are 2-2 since Mills and Perry addressed the media, presumably at the direction of Dolan, who was understandably unhappy with the club's rough start.
Regarding the front office, Mills and GM Scott Perry are likely to last the rest of the season, according to sources. That could change if James Dolan gets cranky, but, regardless, the front office is far from safe in the offseason. Names are already being floated across the league of executives who might replace Mills. They include: Masai Ujiri, Sam Presti, Kiki Vandeweghe (who is interested in the job, according to a source), Daryl Morey (who probably won’t last in Houston following the China controversy), Trajan Langdon and Sam Hinkie.
Knicks owner James Dolan spoke with team president Steve Mills and others in management on Monday, the day after Mills and GM Scott Perry held an impromptu press conference to express their frustration with the Knicks. Dolan speaks with Mills and other top decision-makers regularly, just as most NBA owners do, but this conversation seemed to carry a little more weight. Sources familiar with the conversation told SNY that management came away with the impression that their jobs would be secure as long as the Knicks 'showed progress' this season.
Despite another defeat, there was a clear attempt to calm roiling waters surrounding Fizdale. Sources indicated Mills and Perry felt their unprecedented James Dolan-inspired press conference Sunday came off as too harsh in the form of pinning the blame on the coach.
Sources told SNY that, in addition to Fizdale, Mills and Perry are also 'on notice' in the wake of the Knicks' slow start. Regardless of what happens with Fizdale, opposing executives expect Mills and Perry to be given the remainder of the season to show Dolan that the team they put together can be competitive.
Several people familiar with the matter told SNY on Monday that Mills, Perry and Fizdale are all under greater scrutiny amid New York's 2-8 start. "Everyone's on notice," one source said. So the notion that Mills, who has served as either president or GM of the Knicks (under Phil Jackson) since 2013-14, would be immune to the consequences that would come of New York continues to underperform is inaccurate.
Sources told SNY that high-ranking MSG officials weren't thrilled after last Sunday's 113-92 home loss to the Sacramento Kings -- which is understandable, given the result.
Stefan Bondy: Tonight is Steve Mills’ 500th game as either GM or team president. His record stands at 164-335.
When free agency approached, the Knicks were optimistic that the worst season in franchise history would be saved by Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant coming to the Garden. The two marquee free agents also had other ideas and chose the Brooklyn Nets. While the Knicks have spun this notion that they didn’t want meetings with either player — as well as Kawhi Leonard — a team source insists that management was “stunned and depressed” when they learned that Irving and Durant picked the other team in town.
Mills has been the one constant throughout this historic losing run. He was hired as general manager prior to the 2013-14 season and then replaced Phil Jackson as president two years ago. Under normal circumstances Mills would appear to be in trouble but his boss likes him and believes in him. For now. “Steve still has the support of Dolan,” said a person familiar with the Knicks thinking. “He knows how to talk to him. Heads of other departments call Steve and ask for his advice on how to deal with Dolan.”
Mills brushed off their failure to land a star in free agency while the rival Brooklyn Nets welcomed Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. “This is a team that’s consistent with how we said we’d build the team,” Mills said during Monday’s Media Day. “This is a team – New Yorkers are going to like this team. The grittiness of these guys. The toughness of these guys. It’s a group of guys that had places they could’ve gone. They made the decision to come here – to New York and play for the Knicks. These are guys are fans are going to like, the toughness they bring every day they come to the court.”
Both Burke and Payton are considered Perry guys while Mills, according to sources, hasn’t given up completely on Ntilikina. If nothing else, the differing opinions on the 21-year-old guard are a microcosm of some of the internal struggles taking place at Madison Square Garden. According to league sources, the scouts and executives brought in under Perry have clashed with some of the scouts and executives under Mills that survived the purge when Jackson was fired, and Mills was promoted. “That’s always been the case,” says one former Knicks executive. “They keep a lot of people from different regimes and that causes some friction.”
The following statement has been issued by Josh Robbins, president of the Professional Basketball Writers Association, regarding the New York Knicks’ ban of New York Daily News journalists from a news conference introducing the Knicks’ 2019 draft picks.
“The New York Knicks’ decision to ban New York Daily News journalists from RJ Barrett’s and Ignas Brazdeikis’ introductory news conference Friday was unprofessional and unacceptable. James Dolan, the owner of the Knicks franchise, previously has said that barring Daily News employees from media availabilities sends the Daily News ‘a message.’ In reality, the only message he is sending is that he is a bully who retaliates against legitimate news outlets that publish content he dislikes. Members of the Professional Basketball Writers Association support our Daily News colleagues, and we condemn the Knicks’ attempts to hinder journalists’ ability to do their jobs and inform the public.”
When asked if they felt immense pressure following the footsteps of such influential men, both Perry and Mills admitted they were cognizant of the attention they attracted, and how important it was never to do anything that might reflect poorly on their family name. Still, they also affirmed they felt properly prepared for what they would encounter. "I never felt it was a heavy weight mainly because of his approach with me," said Perry of his father's tutelage. "He said, 'Look, don't worry about trying to chase my path. All I ask is anything you do, always give 110%, and I'm gonna support you.'" "A lot of times kids look for role models externally, but I always told everybody mine was right at home. So, that was a blessing," added Perry.
When both Steve and Scott are prodded to discuss what their predecessors would be proud of them for, each explained how they hoped their fathers would be able to take satisfaction in their success. "My father would just be so proud of the position I'm holding right now. As a kid growing up, we really couldn't afford to go to the Garden for games," said Mills. "He was so proud of my journey in the NBA, especially when I first started working for the Knicks. He was so proud to see that his son had done that. I really wish he could see where I am now." As for Perry, he also wishes his fathers could experience him realizing his dreams first-hand. "He passed away in my first year working in the NBA. He knew I always talked about wanting to become a general manager. I said that at age 22. To see that manifest itself now, I'm sure he would be extremely proud. Secondly, I think he would just be proud of the man I am... and that I try to continue to live his legacy in terms of paying it forward."
Whether it’s winning the draft lottery, or signing Kevin Durant and a star companion, or making trades to ease into their massive salary-cap space, Knicks president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry won’t back off from the giant optimism displayed in a recent letter to season-ticket holders. “I firmly believe [in] what we’re doing, and we’re going to get there,’’ Perry told The Post on Wednesday. “One way or another, we’re going to get there.”
“This is New York City,’’ Perry said. “It’s the greatest city in the world. There’s a lot of appeal here. Even though the team has struggled, it’s a definite attraction to becoming a player in this city who can help turn this organization around. I think that’s something that gives us excitement that it’s out there — the storied nature of this franchise and what the franchise meant to the NBA that still resonates.”
“We’re hopeful and we’re excited,’’ Mills said. “We’re excited because now we’re in position. There’s a lot of noise and a lot of guys are interested in New York. They like Fiz. They like some of the changes we made in the organization. We hear that from agents. We read it from guys getting interviewed about what guys feel about the Knicks. We hear that from other players. At least we’re in the game, and hopeful something really good happens. But we won’t know until it happens. It also gives us the opportunity that if things don’t happen in free agency, we’re sticking to our plan. We’re not going to sign the wrong players just because we have room and the fans have great expectations. They should have expectations we make the right decisions. It gives us the opportunities to eventually explore trades and take guys into [that] room.”
The 33-year-old also declined to address comments from Mills, who was the GM when they signed Noah to a $72 million deal but distanced himself from the association. “I’m not throwing Steve Mills under the bus. Or talking s--t about him. I’m not talking s--t about Hornacek. That’s not my style. I take ownership in what I did, what I could have done better. And I know that there was 10 things that went wrong that year. But it is what it is, I’m in Memphis. And the Memphis Grizzlies beat the New York Knicks tonight.”
Mike Vorkunov: Enes Kanter wasn't surprised by MSG's "We want Kanter" chants. "They want me out there. They love me." He thinks Knicks org. doesn't like hearing them. "It's a little embarrassing. Because after all this trade and everything that the fans still want me to go out there and play." pic.twitter.com/wuVBEzJsPO
Adrian Wojnarowski: Reporting with @ZachLowe and @RamonaShelburne: In meeting with management today, Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis expressed his concern with the losing, franchise direction and an uncertainty that a culture is developing that will enable sustainable organizational success.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Porzingis wants to play for a winner in New York, but is searching for clarity on his future role with the team and Knicks direction. Porzingis -- out with an ACL injury --- can be a restricted free agent this summer.
In stating his evaluations of the current roster and the team’s dreadful record, Mills was more measured with his words. He is smart to call this season a rebuilding year, especially with Porzingis sidelined until at least February. Mills then lowered expectations in advance of this summer’s free agency. If the Knicks strike out, Mills can simply say we’re building through the draft. That’s a wise strategy.
What Mills can’t say publicly, because it would violate the NBA’s tampering rules, is that the Knicks are all in on free agent-to-be Kevin Durant. The Warriors superstar is and should be the Knicks’ number one free agent target. And for what it’s worth, according to several NBA executives who attended last week’s G-League Showcase in Las Vegas, the general consensus is the Knicks are still very much in play to land Durant. “Everyone says Knicks,” said one prominent player agent.
According to NBA sources, Knicks brass no longer views 2019 as a make-or-break free-agent summer. The 9-25 Knicks feel their plan can still go on even if they do not sign a big fish in July. Adding a potential top-five lottery pick, developing their three rookies — Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson and Allonzo Trier — as well as former lottery picks Frank Ntilikina and Emmanuel Mudiay, and easing Kristaps Porzingis into action are deemed larger priorities.
When president Steve Mills met with media Friday in a conference room at 2 Penn Plaza, he downplayed the urgency of 2019 free agency. Rolling over the cap space to 2020 or keeping space open to have flexibility to trade for a star are options. Rumors persist Anthony Davis will want out of New Orleans this summer, and the Knicks are said to be on his list. “We are in a position if we need to find a slot for a max salary we can do that,’’ Mills said. “Our focus is on the guys that we have right now, developing them, and also developing the environment, or the culture, that exists around our team."
“If we don’t make this a place the guys internally feel something good is happening and believe in what we’re doing, that’s not going to be attractive to people who are on the outside,’’ Mills added. “Our guys have to feel it and then they have to hear about it and see it in how our guys are interacting with us. The plan is that we develop an environment that free agents should want to be here.”
“Look, when I brought on Phil, the big question is, ‘Are you going to stay out of it?’ And I swore I would stay out of it, and I did. I stayed out of it. And it wasn’t until the very end that I had to make a decision that it clearly wasn’t working,” Dolan said in the interview with ESPN.com. “I think Phil knew it, too. I think he hoped I would have more stamina, but I didn’t. “… I think it was much more about this triangle thing. It was much more about his philosophy, that he couldn’t get the group to buy into it. And I think he got yessed a lot. I think they’d be underneath their breath going, ‘This is not a great idea,’ and he got into conflict with some players over it. But I think he tried hard to get his system in. I just don’t think he ever got it in.”
The specter of Kevin Durant’s wandering eye has the Knicks on red alert. Durant never gave Phil Jackson a Hamptons meeting in 2016. Across recent years, James Dolan’s Knicks no longer became the Big Apple of superstar’s eyes. Hiring Jackson as president didn’t seem to improve matters. “It’s much more about the perception of the organization,” Fizdale said at Thursday morning’s shootaround at TD Garden before the Celtics rematch at 8 p.m. “What I think we’ve done together with Steve [Mills] and Scott [Perry], Mr. Dolan and myself and all our staff is we changed the perception of how we operate and treat each other and what’s important. That’s the first step in getting people to come to New York. When they see we have a really tight ship, really take care of our guys, our guys get better and get a lot of attention. Hopefully all of those things, with the combination of the understanding we have Kristaps Porzingis there, too, this team isn’t necessarily what our record is when you put him in the mix. We have something free agents will like.”
Apparently he’s getting love from Dolan, who has stayed further in the background than any other season in recent memory. “Fantastic, he’s been so on board with everything we’re doing, he’s been so supportive and it’s been really nice building a relationship,” Fizdale said. “Mr. Dolan’s big thing is, are we sticking to our process? We are. That’s been the good part about it. Our situation with our roster is where we want it. Our star’s getting healthy. When the time comes for free agency and all of those things, I think we’re gonna be in a good position.”
The vexing issue facing the three-headed brain trust of Steve Mills, Scott Perry and Craig Robinson is not just who is the starting point guard of the present — Burke, Emmanuel Mudiay or Frank Ntilikina. It’s who — if any of the lottery trio — should be the PG of the future. “Trey’s about to make the staff and management have some decisions to make,” an NBA personnel director said.
Kleiman is better known as Kevin Durant’s agent and business partner. He’s the ambitious power broker who once claimed that he will one day run the Knicks. And that wasn’t something he wrote in an essay for his 10th grade English class. He tweeted it last February. (When you’re the agent and business partner for the NBA’s most coveted free agent you’re allowed to have such lofty goals.) “It’s true, I want to run an NBA team one day,” Kleiman said. “But I’m not after Steve Mills’ job.”
There was a non-fictional inspiration fueling her decision-making process, too, one that was far more personal for Jeanie: Her ex-fiance’ and former Lakers coach, Phil Jackson, who won five of his record 11 titles with Bryant at his side. Jeanie had learned from Jackson’s mistakes in New York, where he took that job as the head of the Knicks front office in March of 2014 and was fired three years later after, as she saw it, he fell prey to the internal politics that have plagued that franchise for decades. “He should’ve made sure (to control) who was surrounding him, because the people close to you will take the knife and put it in your back,” she continued. “And so, I had not thought of it that way (with the Lakers situation). I was trying to do the least amount of change.”
At Thursday’s press conference, Knicks president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry said Porzingis understands the predicament. Brass has taken great lengths to convince him he’s still “The Franchise.” ... The Knicks hope to re-sign Porzingis when he is a restricted free agent in 2019. That way, the team could climb over the salary cap. An extension now would take up precious cap room. Doing it next summer would open up $10 million in cap space.
“Our philosophy is that we’re going to stay connected with [the Porzingis camp],” Perry said. “It’s a long-term thing. Obviously you mentioned the point of the cap space in July. But we just feel like we’re in a real good space with him, as well as he is with us. And we’re going to do the right thing by him and this organization.” Mills said they have made it clear to Porzingis the Knicks’ orbit still revolves around him. “He’ll never feel like he’s not a cornerstone part of what we’re trying to do here,” Mills said. “He understands that. We make that crystal clear to him and his representation.”
The Knicks made their declaration, drew their line in the sand regarding Jimmy Butler. “We’re not going to trade our draft picks,” team president Steve Mills told season ticket holders at the equivalent of a Knicks pep rally earlier this week. “We’re going to build this team the right way. What we’re not going to do is trade away assets to get a [free agent] that we can go get on our own later.” Usually, executives leave wiggle room. Plausible deniability. But that statement from Mills was absolute, broadcast on Facebook for the world to see. It also arrived just one day before Butler met with the Timberwolves to request a trade, telling their brass he prefers three destinations – the Knicks, Nets and Clippers.
Mike Vorkunov: Kristaps Porzingis is back in NY, Knicks president Steve Mills says at team town hall. He'll go for more evaluations to figure out next steps. Mills: “Kristaps is doing well. He’s coming along well...KP’s engaged and we’re in a good place with him.”
Mike Vorkunov: Steve Mills says Knicks were comfortable with Mitchell Robinson as a person as opposed to others they interviewed. "We don't want that dude with us," Mills said of those. Fizdale: "We said that a lot." BUT THEY WON'T NAME NAMES
Ian Begley: The Knicks are strongly considering adding former Orlando Magic scouting coordinator John Halas to the organization, league sources told ESPN. Halas worked with Knicks general manager Scott Perry in Orlando. Halas would likely be added to the Knicks' scouting department.
Knicks scout Clarence Gaines Jr., who was a close adviser of ex-NYK President Phil Jackson, will not be back with the organization next season, league sources confirmed. Gaines Jr. was hired by Jackson in 2014 and served under Jackson as a Vice President of Player Personnel. His role shifted to that of a scout this season after Jackson was fired. Jackson said Gaines was instrumental in convincing him to draft Kristaps Porzingis in 2015
Many people in the organization saw Gaines and Jackson's most trusted adviser during his tenure as president, which included three 50-loss seasons and external turmoil. It is unclear exactly why Gaines won't return, though it's worth noting he did not have strong ties to GM Scott Perry, who has made several new additions to the front office. Several people in the organization speculated that Gaines would not remain with the Knicks after this season once Perry and Mills began to shape the front office. Gaines' status with the Knicks was first reported by The Athletic.
James Dolan, the owner that Knicks fans love to hate, may be laying the groundwork for a sale of the franchise. Shares in Madison Square Garden Co. soared on the news. Late yesterday Dolan announced he was exploring a spin-off that would separate the Knicks and the Rangers from the rest of Madison Square Garden. While Dolan would remain in charge of the teams, at least at first, putting them together in a separate public company would offer him the chance to whittle down his stake easily if he chooses. Dolan is understood to be more interested in music and building cutting-edge entertainment venues than sports. "He wants to be more Elon Musk than George Steinbrenner," an analyst told Crain's in an article last month.
It’s been a trying week, so let me treat you to something nice. Watch the stock price for The Madison Square Garden Company do a little jig over the last two days: What could explain this spike? Probably the announcement, late Wednesday, that James Dolan, chairman and CEO of MSG, is considering spinning the Knicks and the Rangers off into a separate company, which would smooth the path for an eventual sale of both teams, per a Crain’s report. This suggests that there may be a day, perhaps even in the not-so-distant future, when those teams are no longer owned by James Dolan. The aspiring bluesman, profiled by our own Dave McKenna in 2016, is said to be bringing his business life in alignment with his true passions.
Ian Begley: Knicks president Steve Mills said the club was impressed by what it learned on and off the court about Kevin Knox during his group workout. He said NYK was impressed by Knox being willing to compete in a group workout.
“Life is what life is,’’ Bradley said when asked if Jackson didn’t have enough time with the Knicks. “Three years and he had a five-year contract. They decided to make a change. You move on. His spirits are great. He’s finally getting his body in shape. He loves L.A., loves San Francisco where a lot of his grandchildren are. He still talks to people in the game. “Right now he is under contract for the Knicks. [A return] is not in the cards now. After that, who knows?”
Jackson’s record as president (80-166 in three full seasons) should not hurt Jackson’s legacy as a great, Bradley said. “He’s not just a legend,’’ Bradley said. “The record speaks for itself. He’s the most successful coach in the history of basketball. He did it in two places with three different groups of people. When somebody else has that many rings (13 total, 11 as a coach), you can talk about them if they’re better. He had a remarkable run as coach — a clear idea how the game should be played. And he was able to convince three sets of players that this was the way to play.”
Sources: Knicks president Steve Mills, GM Scott Perry and director of scouting Kristian Petesic are at the Excel agency's Pro Day in NYC where Villanova's Mikal Bridges and other players who have signed with the agency are working out. All NBA teams likely have representation at the Excel Pro Day. But it's potentially noteworthy that Mills, Perry and Petesic were on hand to watch Bridges and other Excel players because many in the organization see Bridges as a potential option for New York, which has the ninth overall selection in the draft.
Almost a Knick? West strongly shot down the notion, which was in circulation earlier this season, that the Knicks made a run at hiring him as a front-office consultant before the Clippers did. "No truth whatsoever," West said. But he did surprise me a bit by revealing that he fully expected to land with the Knicks in the 1960 draft. The Lakers had the No. 2 overall pick and selected West before the Knicks were forced to settle for Darrall Imhoff at No. 3. Referring to the intense fan interest and media scrutiny in New York, West said: "I always thought that would be an interesting place to be."
Ian Begley: Knicks GM Scott Perry, speaking on ESPN’s NBA Draft Combine show, reiterates that the club plans to take the best player available with the ninth pick. Perry says if that player ends up being a wing, which is an area of need, “so be it.”
Knicks GM Scott Perry on the team's ability to land an impact player in the draft: "I am confident we will be able to find a prospect who can help our team regardless of where we pick, as well as our scouting staff's ability to maximize our draft position," Perry said in a Q & A released by the Knicks ahead of Tuesday's lottery.
"Each Draft is unique in terms of the level of contributions from that particular class and group of players. We know that franchise players are extremely hard to come by. With that said, each draft features a healthy number of players who are capable of contributing to winning teams either as starters or in important rotational roles. Our goal is to draft players who fit our plan and our culture, and develop them to the best of our ability as we become a sustainable, winning franchise." The Knicks finished with the 9th-worst record in the NBA and have a 6.1 percent chance of getting a top-3 pick during Tuesday's draft lottery.
Tuesday, with general manager Scott Perry on the Chicago dais, the Knicks find out where they select in June’s draft. They didn’t move up last May, and odds are they stick with the ninth pick. And if they pass on point guards Collin Sexton and Trae Young, it will demonstrate a resolution to Ntilikina as their long-term future. The Knicks need a small forward. “I would caution just a little bit is that it all depends on who’s available when we get ready to select and how we have them tiered,’’ Perry said on ESPN Radio. “If there’s someone down there at a position you think you’re more strong at, but the player is clearly a better talent than the position of need, then you have that question: Do you go ahead and take the greater talent and then you utilize trades and free agency to bolster the position you need help, being small forward?”
According to sources, Ntilikina’s skill as a pure point guard is something Mills and Perry have debated. Mills was part of the Phil Jackson braintrust that drafted Ntilikina eighth — ostensibly as a perfect Euro fit for the triangle offense that has been disbanded. According to a source, Mills was adamant Ntilkina being untouchable at Feb. 8’s trade deadline. But Perry, concerned about Ntilikina’s penetrating prowess, pushed to add Mudiay.
Mike Vorkunov: GM Scott Perry doesn't want to narrow Knicks to drafting a wing (on ESPN Radio): "We’re going to be very open… We’re in the talent acquisition mode so we’ve got to get the highest level of talent that we can onto our roster and we’ll figure out the positions when we get there.”
Woodson also noted while with the Knicks he used a lot of two point-guard fronts — which is in vogue — with Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni. “I had one of the great isolation players in the game in [Carmelo Anthony], so I’m going to try to get my best player some shots,’’ Woodson said of his isolationist rep. “But do the homework and look at the numbers on 3-pointers attempted and made.” Woodson said he had “a great meeting’’ with Knicks president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry. “Everyone’s just waiting,’’ Woodson said.
The Knicks are searching far and wide for their next coach. Team president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry have done interviews on the East Coast and the West Coast and will meet with former Cavaliers coach David Blatt this week in Europe. While they’re overseas, they’re expected to scout some European players, including Slovenian guard Luka Doncic, who is projected to be a high lottery pick.
Knicks GM Scott Perry is planning to pair the European trip with a scouting side-trip, sources said. The Perry-Blatt meeting will be telltale to Blatt's candidacy. Blatt has a strong history and relationship with Knicks president Steve Mills, and Mills has been an advocate for Blatt to become Knicks head coach when he worked with Phil Jackson and now Perry.
Diamond Leung: Stephen A Smith to Adam Silver on supporting Mark Jackson bc Knicks need a spokesperson: "I like Steve Mills & Scott Perry but they need a voice that speaks to the media every day & it can't be one of the players & we both know it'll never be James Dolan."
Reddit user: What should the Knicks do to not suck forever? Daryl Morey: There is a common denominator to all their issues...
Ian Begley: Kristaps Porzingis was asked about having 4 NYK coaches in 4 seasons. "The situation is what it is. I’m sure the front office, they will make the right decisions. And to build something that can go a long way. I think they will make the right decisions so we have to trust them.”
Mike Vorkunov: Does Kristaps Porzingis want stability after 3 coaches in 3 years? “The situation is what it is. I’m sure that the front office will make the right decisions and to build something that can go a long ways. I think they’ll make the right decisions and we have to trust them."
Mike Vorkunov: Van Gundy: "I love coaching. I love what I do now." He talks around the Knicks job. Of James Dolan, he says: "I think the misconception of my time there was that Mr. Dolan wasn't good to work for." Says Dolan gave the team the resources to win when he was there.
Adam Zagoria: Perry and Mills say they've been in constant contact with Kristaps Porzingis through his ACL injury. "He's in great spirits about how the rehab is going and about his prospects of coming back, so we feel good about that as well." - Mills @SNYtv @theknicksblog
Adam Zagoria: Scott Perry not closing the door on a Joakim Noah return: "We won't take any of those options off the table. " Said he didn't call Jo to notify him about coaching change.
Al Iannazzone: Another thing being by Knicks officials said is they want a coach who connect with today’s players. Communication was apparently a factor in firing Hornacek.
Mike Vorkunov: "I don't think it was a complete shock to Jeff. We actually had a meeting with Jeff 2 weeks ago to review where we started the beginning of the season." -- Steve Mills, on firing Hornacek late last night.
June 23, 2021 | 5:32 am EDT Update
Sullivan is the author of “Can’t Knock the Hustle: Inside the Season of Protest, Pandemic, and Progress with the Brooklyn Nets’ Superstars of Tomorrow,” which released on Tuesday. In a conversation with our friends from Celtics Wire on their podcast, Celtics Lab, Sullivan said that Nets ownership was unhappy with Irving over his midseason “pause,” and that Irving could be available for the right offer.
Matt Sullivan: “Let me give you guys a little news, I’m not sure that’s been out there. I’ve heard that Nets ownership was quite upset with Kyrie’s ‘pause,’ especially that maskless party that turned his psuedo-paternity leave into more like a COVID suspension. And in the last week I’ve heard rumblings – whispers, really, because cracking the Nets is kind of like breaking into the Kremlin, that Brooklyn GM Sean Marks would maybe, possibly, apparently be willing to at least listen to a trade offer for Kyrie this offseason. Now, I’m not sure what the market for Kyrie is at this point. It’s not like Ben Simmons giving you the headache on the court. It’s that complex personality that comes from off the court. I think it’s been annoying some people in the franchise. I can’t speak to his teammates, who obviously want to play with one of the world’s best and get him back there.”
Deandre Ayton couldn’t stop smiling after the Phoenix Suns’ 104-103 win on Tuesday gave them a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals over the LA Clippers. The big man wore a permagrin as he basked in the joy that came from dunking home the go-ahead bucket in the game’s final second, finishing one of the most dramatic alley-oops in NBA playoff history, but he didn’t want any of the credit. “I’ll start off by saying that’s definitely Jae [Crowder’s] game winner, making a great pass for a 7-footer,” Ayton said after his dunk with 0.7 seconds left lifted his final line to 24 points on 12-for-15 shooting and 14 rebounds.
No wonder Ayton said he completed the best play of his three-year NBA career after finishing with 24 points, 14 rebounds and one memorable lob that gave the Suns a 2-0 series lead. “I never played so hard from the jump ball to the end, 150%,” Ayton said. “Usually it’s like 110%, but tonight it’s 150% and it’s 150% mentally. Just the level of focus and the things you have to really pay attention to, it’s really intense.”
And the production has been eye-popping. Per Elias Sports Bureau research, this postseason Ayton is the first player in the shot clock era (since 1954-55) with a 70% or better field goal percentage in any 12-game postseason span. He has had five 20-point, 10-rebound games this postseason, the most by a Suns player since Amar’e Stoudemire in 2007. “I’ve never played so hard from the jump ball to the end,” Ayton said. “A hundred and fifty percent. Usually, it’s like 110, but this is 150%. And it’s 150% mentally, too. Just the level of focus and the things you really have to pay attention to. It’s really intense, man.”
The cloud of the 2018 draft doesn’t follow Ayton. He has admitted in the past to being sensitive to perception and criticism, but put all of it behind him. “At the end of the day, we’re all different players,” Ayton said of comparisons to Doncic and Young. “I’m a 7-footer, big man, and they’re two point guards. I don’t know what you can compare. But me, I play as hard as I can. This is my team. I dominate the best way I can for this team and try to take this team as far as I can. Other than that, I trust my work, I trust my work ethic, I trust my craft.”
But with a chance to give them a three-point lead with 8.2 seconds left, George surprisingly missed both free throws despite coming into this game making 89.2% from the free throw line this postseason. “I’m not going to put too much on that,” George said afterward. “Obviously it was an opportunity that was missed. Pat made an unbelievable play that put me in position to extend the lead. I’m always confident at the free throw line. I’ve always been very successful in clutch moments at the free throw line.”
Meanwhile, the Clippers failed to capitalize on a game that was there for the taking, and now trail 2-0 for a third straight series this postseason. “This game, I’ve played a lot of games in this league, this one’s hard,” said Beverley, who got the start in Game 2. “This one goes up there. This is a hard game to kind of swallow because you look at this game, I mean, we got this game won, you know. “But we’ve been in the trenches before. We respond well in the trenches. We’ll respond well. We always do.”