Marc Berman: Leon Rose spoke to team and coaching staff…

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Mike Vorkunov: Leon Rose thanks coach Mike Miller for his "leadership & professionalism" in his letter to NYK fans. Miller has been asked to coach the team & become its public spokesperson in media vacuum Knicks created. He'll be the one answering questions tonite about Knicks hiring Rose too.
Mike Vorkunov: "Nothing about this is easy, or quick, so I ask for your continued patience," Leon Rose says in letter to fans. "What I promise you in return is that I will be honest...We will develop a plan that makes sense, both to jumpstart our short-term growth & ensure our longterm success"
Mike Vorkunov: Leon Rose thanks coach Mike Miller for his "leadership & professionalism" in his letter to NYK fans. Miller has been asked to coach the team & become its public spokesperson in media vacuum Knicks created. He'll be the one answering questions tonite about Knicks hiring Rose too.
Mike Vorkunov: "Nothing about this is easy, or quick, so I ask for your continued patience," Leon Rose says in letter to fans. "What I promise you in return is that I will be honest...We will develop a plan that makes sense, both to jumpstart our short-term growth & ensure our longterm success"
The Knicks officially have a new team president. The franchise announced on Monday morning that Leon Rose is taking over effective immediately, after weeks of the former agent untangling himself from his role at CAA. “New York is the epicenter of basketball and Madison Square Garden has always been very special to me,” Rose said in a statement. “To be a part of the Knicks revitalization and basketball at The Garden is a challenge and a rare opportunity, one to be cherished, and I will do my utmost to make the fans, the City and ownership proud. I want to thank Jim Dolan for this opportunity.”
According to sources, NBA executives/agents have been told not to bother Rose about Knicks issues until March 1, which is Sunday. The Knicks are expected to make an official announcement on Rose’s hiring as soon as Monday. “Player relations, he’s very big on that,” Anthony said. “Deal-making, very big on that. Communicating. Knowing personnel. He’s been in this game for a long time. He’s represented the best of the best in this game. He knows. He’s made deals. That’s just what he does. He’s good at running his organization and his own business.”
It's been no secret that at some point before the end of the season, Leon Rose is going to become the next man tasked with guiding the Knicks to the long-awaited promised land. "At some point" may be just a few days away. Multiple sources tell that Rose's position as President of Basketball Operations for the Knicks will be made official either this week or next week, with a press conference likely coming soon thereafter.
Sources also confirmed that Rose was delayed in officially taking the job by his involvement in the Dwayne Wade "L3GACY" celebration this weekend in Miami, as first reported last week by Marc Berman of the New York Post. Rose, of course, is widely credited with helping bring together the "Big Three" of Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh a decade ago.
As Leon Rose prepares for his imminent takeover, Garden constant Allan Houston has emerged as a candidate for a front office promotion, a league source told the Daily News. The former All-Star, 48, is currently the GM of the G-League affiliate in Westchester and has been a Knicks executive since 2008, surviving multiple regime changes while being groomed for a larger role. He also served as the Knicks assistant GM before and during Phil Jackson’s tenure.
While Houston’s future with the organization seems safe, the rest of the front office is mostly in flux. According to a source, the Knicks hoped to hire Grizzlies executive Rich Cho but that’s now off the table. Word is Cho is happy in Memphis, where he serves as the vice president of basketball strategy for a franchise on the rise that features Ja Morant.
According to a source, Craig Robinson, the current Knicks’ vice president of player development, has already had his responsibilities cut. Robinson, who is Michelle Obama’s brother, was hired by his Princeton buddy Steve Mills to oversee a comprehensive player development initiative.
Quentin Richardson, who played 241 games for the Knicks from 2005 to 2009 and one game for the team in 2012-13 before calling it a career, talked about why he believes most players don't want to play for the Knicks. "The new generation, they want to just have their money and enjoy being in the NBA and have fun," Richardson said during an appearance on CBS Sports Radio. "And at times, in New York, it could be the reverse of that. If you're making a lot of money and you're not playing up to whatever their standards, they think they can boo you, they can make it tough for you. And I've seen teammates and different people not want to go out to eat, not want to enjoy the city or enjoy your down time because they're worried about fans talking smack or looking at 'em crazed and all that.
"You have to have a thick skin to be able to deal with that. For me, I was from Chicago, so it never really mattered to me what anybody said. I legit witnessed seeing how it goes. If you're not built for it, you're not built for it." Richardson also said the coverage in the newspapers is a deterrent. "You look in the Daily News, (New York) Post or whatever, they would put people's paychecks and like what their production has been and say 'hey, they made this much money for every point they made,' like 'they ain't doing nothing,'" Richardson explained. "You gotta be able to deal with different things when you go to New York."
Leon Rose may learn to hate the Miami Heat once he transforms from superagent to Knicks president, but not for this one last weekend. One of the holdups to officially joining the Knicks is his participation in the Heat’s three-day Dwyane Wade retirement extravaganza this weekend, which Rose helped plan.
The Wade tributes — called “L3GACY Celebration” — will be held Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Friday’s event at AmericanAirlines Arena will be a series of tributes to honor Wade’s impact on the Heat and the South Florida community. Wade’s jersey No. 3 will be retired Saturday before the Heat host the Cavaliers. Sunday, a documentary will be screened highlighting Wade’s NBA career, with the 13-time All-Star and three-time champion addressing the crowd.
The GM is a crucial part of the plan, given that Rose has no experience actually running a franchise, and names have begun to flicker through the rumor mill. Artūras Karnišovas’ name has been floated by multiple sources, but the Nuggets’ general manager signed a contract extension last summer and the Knicks would need permission to speak to him and possibly compensation to obtain him. An SNY report said some around the league believe long-time Hornets GM Rich Cho is under consideration.
Despite his place as one of the power players in the NBA for decades, Leon Rose has rarely put himself on center stage, willing to work in the background for his clients as one of the premier agents in the NBA. So it is little surprise that as the stars converged on Chicago for All-Star Weekend, Rose was noticeably out of the spotlight. Reporters from other cities asked and even executives wondered where he was and when he would emerge in his new role as the president of the Knicks.
The first and most vital move for Rose is naming a general manager, a role still manned by Scott Perry. But he is not expected to survive the purge of the latest incarnation of the Knicks rebuilding plans. The coach, David Fizdale, was ousted in December, and team president Steve Mills followed last month. A source said Perry is not expected to last beyond his contract that ends after this season.
Stefan Bondy: Joel Embiid’s agent is Leon Rose, who’ll be taking over the Knicks. Embiid said he’ll remain with CAA. “Leon is my guy. He’s like family. When I heard the news I was happy for him. Being an agent for a long time and getting a gm or president job is amazing. He’ll do a good job.”
Since we're still days - weeks? - away from Rose starting, it's too early to concretely state which coaches or executives will be joining Rose's Knicks. But one name that several opposing execs expect to get consideration is Rich Cho. Cho, currently an executive with the Memphis Grizzlies, is believed to have a solid relationship with Rose. That's one reason why those opposing execs see Cho as someone to keep an eye on when it comes to potential additions under Rose.
An exec who has worked at the Garden recently described Rose as sharp and incredibly well connected. But the executive also pointed out that who Rose hires underneath him will be crucial to his tenure in New York. So who Rose brings in to his front office and scouting departments could be nearly as crucial as who he hires as head coach. In addition to Cho, we know that Rod Strickland is another person to keep an eye on regarding a potential role with Rose's Knicks.
Rose has served as a marquee NBA agent for over 20 years with clients such as LeBron James, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony. He’s taking care of his current clients and businesses before decertifying as an agent to officially run the Knicks. It’s unclear if he’ll hire an experienced NBA executive to serve as GM. “That’s for ownership to determine. How do you structure an organization?” Colangelo said. “Who is the lead guy and people around him? I’ve known Leon Rose as an agent. I think he knows basketball. I think he really loves the game, etc. He certainly has a lot of relationships. I think the key in the game today is relationships.”
Colangelo is still powerful in the NBA as the director of USA basketball and chairman of the Basketball Hall of Fame. On Friday, he endorsed two Team USA coaches — Jeff Van Gundy and Tom Thibodeau — for the Knicks job. “Those are great basketball guys. They’re terrific coaches. I have great respect for both of them,” Colangelo said. “They’re different. They’re alike in some ways. But they’re born to coach. And the fact that they’re not — there are teams out there that could use those guys, for sure.”
Stoute, the newly hired branding manager, appeared on ESPN Tuesday and stated he’s looking forward to a new coaching staff next season to develop some of the team’s young potential stars. The remark got Stoute in hot water with the administration for essentially firing Miller prematurely. It is believed an apology was given at the fan charity event, “Kicks and Cocktails’’ when Miller met the entertainment mogul for the first time. “I saw Steve at the charity event,’’ Miller said, said before the Knicks played the Wizards on Wednesday night. “We spoke over there. We had a private conversation.”
One NBA source said acting president Scott Perry, whose future still is up in the air, was particularly bent out of shape by Stoute’s comment. Asked if team brass or ownership spoke to him to put him at ease, Miller said, “I speak to Scott every day. I just left speaking with Scott. It’s really not necessary. There’s really no reason to put me at ease. I’m at ease. We’re getting ready to play in MSG and I’m coaching the Knicks tonight. We get to play basketball. It’s basketball season. “I don’t really have a reaction to it. “I’m locked into doing what we do here. My job is to get the team ready to play Washington. My focus is on the players.’’
You have a long history in both the music and basketball industries. I agree with those who say Stoute overstepped his bounds when talking about the Knicks coaching situation (on Tuesday). But given your perspective, what do you think about what Steve Stoute can bring to the Knicks? KLEIMAN: "Steve Stoute is a winner, straight up. He's not phased by what happened (on Tuesday). I'm sure whatever's happening behind closed doors is to be kept behind closed doors. But someone like Steve Stoute knows exactly what his role is. He will deliver and then some and the Knicks will benefit greatly from it. When there's nothing really to talk about in terms of wins and success right now (with the Knicks), which is to come, people will be quick to harp on what they feel like is not the traditional thing to say. But Stoute has never done anything the traditional way. So you will see the benefit that the team will reap from his position in that organization. And he knows what his role his and he'll deliver. I didn't think twice about (what happened Tuesday). I know what Steve's doing."
There was at least one report that you were on the Knicks' radar for the team presidency position. Was there any accuracy to that? KLEIMAN: "No accuracy to it. Never heard from them. It clearly has to do with the fact that, two or three years ago, I tweeted that I wanted to run the Knicks one day -- and, of course, I grew up in New York City. It's hard for me with all of the access that I've gotten to not still be a kid at times and realize that the Knicks were my life growing up. "So, yeah, it's still a dream of mine but I'm also building a business with Kevin. And I think that it's flattering to know that my name was mentioned because I think, at least, it justifies some of the work I've done within the world of business and basketball. But it was never real because nobody ever called me. But if what they're reporting is true about Leon Rose, then I think they did the right job. Because I think Leon is going to be incredible."
According to sources, the real issue is tying up loose ends at Creative Artist Agency and finding new agents for his many clients, preferably with CAA. Another factor, according to sources, is the matter of settling up all the financial compensation he is due from the complicated network of CAA.
A few notes on the Knicks' coaching situation: before Steve Mills was removed as team president, there was support within the organization to keep Mike Miller in the fold -- even if New York hired a new head coach for next season. In the wake of Mills' reassignment, some prominent people at Madison Square Garden remain in support of giving Miller a role within the organization regardless of what happens with the coaching search this offseason, per SNY sources.
Be advised, however, that there is no shortage of skepticism around the league that Rose, with zero front-office experience, can really change Dolan’s universe — skepticism that the Knicks have earned based on their many, many missteps since last reaching the N.B.A. finals in 1999. Rival teams and agents have long accused the Knicks of letting the talent agency Creative Artists Agency influence their basketball decisions. Now they are hiring C.A.A.’s most veteran basketball agent. (Full disclosure: I am a former C.A.A. client.)
The so-called “agent model” they are adopting, furthermore, has flopped (with Lon Babby in Phoenix and Arn Tellem in Detroit) as often as it has flourished (Bob Myers in Golden State and Rob Pelinka with the Los Angeles Lakers). The skeptics are also bound to point out that, as recently as last May, no one was looking to the Lakers for any sort of blueprint. LeBron James chose to sign with the Lakers as a free agent in July 2018 independent of anyone working for them — and they were a franchise in disarray, after Magic Johnson’s unforeseen resignation as team president in April, until Anthony Davis forced a trade to the Lakers to team up with James.
There’s skepticism around the league that Stoute can make any difference in turning the Knicks around. “That’s just another foolish thing from Dolan. He’s saying Steve Stoute will help me get those guys (superstar free agents) and they don’t realize it – it’s not about that,” said a longtime NBA executive whose team worked with Stoute. Added another executive, “Steve is going to take his check and say, ‘Hey, I tried.’”
From that chaos and confusion, Steve Stoute emerged Tuesday to declare he’s a prominent voice in the organization and, once again, the Knicks are chasing superstars. “The biggest thing is getting free agents and players to know this is a place to show up, this is where they should be,” Stoute said on ESPN’s ‘First Take.’ “I think that narrative has been lost. Players haven’t come, a free agent hasn’t come. And if we can solve that problem, which I know we will, we have a great chance. We’re the most iconic team in the league by far.”
Stoute didn’t go into great detail about his plan but the overall message was that the Knicks are a marquee franchise and will act accordingly. That means attracting superstar players, personalities and a dynamic coach. What was assumed about interim coach Mike Miller’s future was essentially confirmed by Stoute — that Miller’s playing out the string this season. “There had to be a change in (firing team president Steve Mills). That change will bring a new coach and new coaches that are going to help develop these younger players,” Stoute said. “And they got some young players — you see RJ Barrett, Mitch Robinson. They got something to work with. And getting a coach in there and ultimately getting a coach and a coaching staff that’s going to help develop a team. That’s what I expect to happen so that we can actually get to what you expect from a New York team.”
The Knicks, recognizing the audaciousness of a “branding consultant” essentially firing the head coach on ESPN, issued a statement disassociating themselves from Stoute’s comments. But it was clear that Stoute, at least in his own mind, carries heavy influence over the organization moving forward, beyond his rebranding expertise.
After internal discussions with the New York Knicks occurred about the possibility of “Worldwide Wes” joining the franchise in a front office role alongside player agent Leon Rose, William Wesley is no longer expected to join the franchise in any formal capacity, league sources have told The Athletic.
Also, Paul is coming off a week where his name made the headlines as a candidate to replace Steve Mills, who was fired as president of the New York Knicks. He told CNBC the timing to depart Klutch and oversee an NBA team is “premature” but vouched for longtime player-agent Leon Rose, who will reportedly take over as Knicks president of basketball operations.
Mike Vorkunov: Knicks released a statement about Steve Stoute, saying that personnel decisions will be made by new team president. “While Steve Stoute is a valued contributor to the Knicks’ marketing and branding efforts, he does not speak on behalf of NY Knicks personnel & basketball ops."
If owner James Dolan went with another agent/manager type in Rich Kleiman, who is partnered with Kevin Durant, Mark Jackson would’ve been a shoo-in for the Knicks job. Dolan didn’t consider Kleiman, fearing Knicks fans still blame Kleiman for failing to deliver KD, according to sources.
Last week, the Knicks parted ways with longtime executive Steve Mills, and multiple reports indicated the team was close to an agreement with Rose to take over. The deal came together quickly, catching his longest-running clients by just as much surprise as everyone else. "I'm still in shock," Anthony told Bleacher Report on Sunday night after the Blazers' 115-109 win over the Miami Heat. "I didn't know until this week. There's a lot to figure out and finalize. I'm sure he's going to take [the job], but it's all new."
On Friday at his press conference, University of Kentucky head basketball coach John Calipari spoke about potentially being linked to the Knicks head coaching job under Leon Rose. "Let me say this: first of all, I haven't talked to Leon, so I don't know if it's done, if he's doing it," Calipari said. "I have no idea. But let me tell you about him: I've known him for 25 years -- dear friend. In a rough-and-tumble business -- really, that business he was in was a sport, too, like body-to-body contact, it is -- and I've never heard anyone in 25 years say anything bad about Leon Rose. He's a gatherer, he's a culture-builder. I'd help him in any way I could, being a resource. You want to call and ask me about college players, my own players, I'm here. It just wouldn't be to coach."
Here’s the most important William Wesley fact for Knick fans: Many years ago, I stood talking to him pre-game, in Philadelphia, when David Stern, then still commissioner, marched up, said hello, and validated one of Wesley’s key claims to fame. He thanked Wesley for getting NBA stars to play for Team USA. In other words, Wesley has more pull with Dream Teamers than … the NBA. Wesley can call the best players on the planet and say “I need you to play,” and they show up. (Many people told me Wesley stayed on the boat with the Dream Team at the Athens Olympics, which makes perfect sense.)
Wesley has this saying: “Everybody wants to make the quick nickel. Nobody wants to make a slow dime.” It means a lot of things. Get good grades! Eat right! Don’t get in trouble with the police! Think long term! But it applies every bit as much to Dolan. Will Rose and Wesley really have the time to go all in, building a program with the culture to lure the many players in their sphere? Phil Jackson was once seen as a genius with pull, too. Rebuilding in the NBA is a long-term project, Dolan is a short-term panic purchaser, throwing quick nickels at everything.
Despite his long-term relationship with Leon Rose, the CAA super-agent who is expected to be the team’s new president, the Kentucky coach nipped that rumor in the bud, telling reporters on Friday he will help Rose any way he can, “it just wouldn’t be to coach.” Calipari was effusive in his praise of Rose. “I’ve never heard anyone in 25 years say anything bad about Leon Rose,” he said. “He’s a gatherer, he’s a culture-builder.”
“I think if they allow Leon to surround himself with good people, he will do well,” a longtime NBA executive told “GMs in this league really respect Leon. They liked working with Leon. He is always fair. Being in New York, there will be some of his former clients who want to go there. But they have to allow him to put people in place that he trusts. He came from the bottom of the agency industry and worked his way up. He understands the structure of the NBA, of a front office. He gets the day-to-day. He won’t be Phil Jackson—he will be in the office every day doing the job.”
One NBA source said one of Mills’ failures was his lack of leadership qualities. Rose oversaw the CAA basketball department, so he was in a leadership role in that sense.
Frank Isola: Leon Rose maintained a good relationship with Jim Dolan over the last 10 years. Obviously, getting Carmelo to the Knicks was a huge part of it. He’s got ties to a lot of coaches including JVG, Thibodeau, Mark Jackson and John Calipari.
Jeff Goodman: World Wide Wes now with the Knicks. Knicks need a coach. Wes’ buddy is John Calipari. Just sayin’.
Marc Berman: Leon Rose has been around Knicks forever. One of first clients was Rick Brunson. And he helped with the Eddy Curry Bulls trade to Knicks.
Kevin O'Connor: Leon Rose and Worldwide Wes to the Knicks is fascinating. At CAA Rose represented Towns, Booker, Embiid, Kuzma. Keep in mind Towns, Booker and D’Angelo Russell—another CAA client—said last summer they’d someday like to team up. Smart decision by the Knicks to hire Rose and Wes.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Reporting with @RamonaShelburne: CAA player agent Leon Rose has emerged as a top target to run the New York Knicks basketball operations, league sources tell ESPN.
Marc Berman: Several agents have thrown hat in ring but told CAA’s Leon Rose has “momentum”, per source. Former Carmelo Anthony rep is at many Knicks games. Out of Cherry Hill, N.J. Former LeBron rep.
James Dolan’s fast pace doesn’t appear to bode well for the candidacy of Raptors president Masai Ujiri, who has been high on the owner’s wish list. According to a source, Dolan has been leery on Ujiri, with the mounds of publicity he has gotten as a candidate and using the Knicks as leverage with Toronto.
Mills negotiated with teams on trades up until Monday, according to the source, and several packages are in place for acting Knicks president Scott Perry with which to work. Trading Marcus Morris for a collection of assets and dealing with Golden State for point guard D’Angelo Russell are still on the table, according to the source.
A few notes in the wake of the Knicks' removal of Steve Mills as team president: We know that there was some division in the organization over the direction to take at the NBA trade deadline. Some wanted to remain patient, hold on to draft picks, and preserve cap space. They felt that was the best way to build out the roster, generally, and to remain in play for top free agents in future summers.
Last month, the Knicks hired Steve Stoute and his agency to help bolster the team's brand and ties to the fan base. Since being hired, Stoute has had strong influence with Dolan and the organization, as you'd expect. His hiring was endorsed by LeBron James. When reached last night by email to ask about his influence in the organization, Stoute said, "I work with Jim and his leadership team...I'm proud to be a part of this organization...We haven't even gotten started yet...There are great things ahead for the NY Knicks."
So how can the Knicks break out of this terrible stretch and get back to respectability? Shaquille O’Neal laid it out on TNT Tuesday night. “When Mr. Dolan was walking out of the arena the other day, the whole crowd was yelling ‘Sell the team.’ So whoever he hires, I just hope he doesn’t micromanage,” Shaq said. “You need to let a guy be able to do his thing. When I was playing in Miami, Pat Riley ran the show. Micky Arison owns it, but Pat Riley ran the show. When I was with the Lakers, Jerry West ran the show. So whoever they hire, I just hope Mr. Dolan just stays out the way.”
If Dolan can make the right hire — perhaps Masai Ujiri — and leave that person alone, it could help lure superstars back to the Garden. “I don’t really understand why people don’t want to come to New York. I’ve talked to a lot of players on why they don’t want to come to New York,” Shaq said, “and basically they said the management stinks.”
Neil Olshey: The Blazers leader and former Clippers executive is originally from Flushing. According to sources, Olshey has never been enamored living in a small-market town. He was once an aspiring soap-opera actor and has the flair to run the Knicks.
The first is one of availability. Is he willing to go and is Toronto willing to let him walk? He’s reportedly under contract through 2020-21, and the Raptors could presumably sign him to an extension if they wished. There is scuttlebutt out there that he’s itching for another challenge and has eyes for a large American market (this point also came up in league circles when the Washington job was open) and that the Raptors’ ownership might be okay letting somebody else pay him an eight-figure salary while they promote GM Bobby Webster.
With owner James Dolan looking at making various agents as potential presidential candidates, don’t sleep on Kevin Durant’s man, Rich Kleiman, according to NBA sources. Kleiman, a native New Yorker, has always desired to run the Knicks. Kleiman was a force in having Durant at least consider the Knicks last year. The scuttlebutt was Durant would join the Knicks and Kleiman would take on a prominent front-office role. That possibility slammed shut when Durant chose the Nets, along with Kyrie Irving.
If Kleiman were to run the Knicks, sources close to him said he’d likely hire former St. John’s star Mark Jackson as head coach. Kleiman has a long relationship with Jackson and, sources said, he believed that Jackson should have been the hire in 2018 when David Fizdale got the gig.
Besides a lot of money and a lot of freedom, no one knows what Dolan is looking for, although league sources believe Toronto Raptors top executive Masai Ujiri is intrigued with the job and the thought of being wanted by the flagship franchise.
Some league insiders also have questioned whether Dolan is as all-in on Ujiri as advertised, because of the perception in various corners that the league office (specifically N.B.A. Commissioner Adam Silver) is pushing Ujiri as the ideal candidate to try to rescue the Knicks. Memories of Ujiri famously fleecing the Knicks in the Carmelo Anthony trade when he was in Denver in 2011, and again in the Andrea Bargnani trade in 2013, are likewise described as potential Dolan turnoffs.
We now know that Steve Mills is out with the Knicks. We also know that people of influence at Madison Square Garden have been, in the words of one source, 'obsessed' with Toronto president Masai Ujiri. We don't know what, specifically, the Knicks would need offer the Raptors to land Ujiri, who is under contract through 2020-21.
But teams talk, and a baseline of two first-round picks is where multiple SNY sources familiar with the dynamic of such negotiations, who were polled in December, expect any Knicks-Ujiri talks to start. When talking about the Knicks-Ujiri hypothetical, it's fair to assume that Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment chairman Larry Tannenbaum will want at least two firsts in a package for Ujiri.
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