William Wesley Rumors
With Wes and Leon — do you think this is the most in sync you’ve felt with a front office in all your time as a head coach? Thibodeau: Whether it’s ownership or a front office, you’re not going to agree on everything. No one does. But looking back, most of my experiences, most of the time, were very positive. I look back at Chicago, that was a great experience for me — 85 to 90 percent of it was very, very positive. No job is going to be perfect, and I’m not going to be perfect, so I understand that. But when you look at it, you can’t overlook all the positives in each job. I think the one thing in traveling around and visiting with different teams, you understand that the issues are the same virtually for every team. So it’s understanding that, OK, we all have problems to solve, and that’s what really working is, and we’re all fortunate to be doing something that we love. And so I think maybe that’s given me a better perspective this time around. And hopefully I continue to learn and grow. I never want to stop learning.
It was time for the draft’s 23rd pick. The Knicks were on the clock. “We need Quickley, get Quickley,” William Wesley repeated, over and over and over and over. Wesley — the ubiquitous consultant/adviser/star-whisperer/power broker whose reputation has earned him the moniker “World Wide Wes” — had joined the Knicks as an executive vice president and senior adviser in June and had spent the months since pushing Kentucky guard Immanuel Quickley at every turn. He knew that the Boston Celtics, picking at No. 26, had worked out Quickley and come away impressed. He was worried they’d steal his guy. He wanted the Knicks to pounce.
At times, meetings with Thibodeau and Aller grew heated. Thibodeau would even mock Aller and call him “Hinkie” (a reference to Sam Hinkie, architect of the Philadelphia 76ers “Process”). Some around the team found this tussling strange. It’s one thing for a group that’s been together for years to debate the organization’s direction; it’s another to have this kind of philosophical disagreement among new hires brought in by a team president, who, in theory, during interviews would have shared his plan. “Leon’s communication isn’t always great,” a second person with close Knicks ties said. “He can be hands-off.”
“When Wes said ‘we,’ people weren’t sure if he was referring to the Knicks or Kentucky,” one NBA source said, referring to his longtime friendship with Kentucky coach John Calipari. Wesley would direct all sorts of conversations back to the school. Prospects from other programs — they weren’t tough enough to handle Kentucky. NBA stars who had played for Duke, like Jayson Tatum and Zion Williamson — Kentucky hadn’t actually wanted them. When conversations centered around players not connected to the school — or Creative Artists Agency, where he and Rose had worked — he’d often close his eyes. Wesley participated in some calls while driving. He went on all sorts of tangents, once making the group listen to the Jay-Z song “Empire State of Mind” because he had played it during the private pre-draft workout for Kevin Knox. One time he changed his shirt on camera, revealing his bare chest to the group.
Leon Rose celebrated his one-year anniversary as Knicks president Monday and the very best thing he’s done was luring Thibodeau despite a reputation that got sullied in Minnesota. The charge? Being too hard on younger players. These Knicks are relating to Thibodeau in a way even Rose and senior vice president William Wesley could not have imagined. Sources told The Post Wesley had minor reservations. Rose had no doubts. “He sets the tone and guys follow his intensity and game plan,’’ one person close to the Knicks said.
Knicks top executive World Wide Wes is reportedly recruiting Bradley Beal to the Knicks through backchannels. ESPN radio host Michael Kay, who works for the station that broadcasts Knicks games, cited a “very good source” while dropping the news on his show last week.