In facing the media for the first time in his new (again) role of President of Basketball Operations of the Knicks, Steve Mills introduced former Kings executive Scott Perry as his new General Manager. While bringing Perry on board, Mills spoke on Monday all about what the Knicks were planning to do moving forward.
Obviously, there needs to be various improvements, from structural, personnel, and cultural standpoints. The new front office, along with head coach Jeff Hornacek, discussed the importance of embracing varying opinions, but also having a unified front when it came to the public eye. In keeping with that mindset, Mills was careful not to divulge too much of how the team is handling the Carmelo Anthony situation. Not one to air dirty laundry, Mills complimented Anthony’s skills and said simply that the team has been in touch with the forward’s representation. Trading the 33 year old might not happen as soon as everyone seems to think, or at all.
For more on that, and other hot topics surrounding the team, here are a few key takeaways from Monday’s media session.
The Knicks say Anthony’s future is to be determined
According to Mills and Perry, the team could still forge ahead with plans to improve long term even if Anthony remains in town come training camp. The ten-time all-star “could easily be a part of our team next year,” Mills said. He also added that the team has been in contact with Anthony and that they are looking for a mutual solution for both sides. This could likely mean that if Anthony isn’t willing to expand his no-trade list and New York isn’t satisfied with the return value (say from, the Rockets or Cavaliers), they won’t necessarily compromise simply to push Anthony out of town. The President also said that a buyout was not an option.
Mills said he was excited to spearhead a movement that allowed the Knicks to embrace their youthful energy and exercise some patience. He mentioned Kristaps Porzingis, Frank Ntilikina, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Willy Hernangomez all by name when citing this revitalized effort.
Heading into this season, Mills said he wanted the Knicks to “focus on the young guys. Take advantage of the fact that we have draft picks moving forward. Build an organization that centers around the growth of that group of guys together. That will take longer to do, but I think it’s something that the fans of New York are ready for and will accept.”
The organization is dedicated to helping that aforementioned core grow together and will judge overall success based on how they improve over different intervals of time. This is the group the organization is choosing to invest in and hopes to become the best developmental team in the NBA. Defense, youth, and athleticism were three words that were constantly used by all three speakers as they promoted a new identity for the Knicks.
There could be changes in the front office coming
Mills not only made it sound as though Perry would have the freedom to frame the front office to his liking, but that changes were actually likely to come.
“As we look forward, we’re going to rebuild what the front office of the Knicks looks like. I feel really good about a lot of the people we have working for us, but we also know there’s room for us to grow and get better if we want to be a first class organization,” he said. “Scott will have the freedom to meet with everyone in our organization, and where he sees opportunities to bring new people in, he’ll have the freedom to do that.”
Many staffers that make up the organization’s front office cabinet have been given stays of executions following turnovers of multiple losing regimes. Something has to give if the team is going to make an attempt at stopping the continued bleeding. Fresh prospectives are imperative to any new effort for success, and those who have made the least contributions (or the greatest, in a more negative sense) should be told that their time has run out. Perry added that he will be making evaluations as he further comes into his new role.
The front office praises (and justifies) its re-acquisition of Tim Hardaway Jr.
Speaking about the team’s signing of Hardaway Jr. for the first time, Mills was overwhelmingly positive. He said the 25 year old was his first call after the clock struck midnight on July 1st. What’s more, the former Knick draft pick was identified as a free agent target before Phil Jackson departed the organization.
Perry said that the move was respected amongst those in the Kings organization, his former employer, from afar. Mills asserted that the team liked what they already knew about Hardaway Jr. and praised his development with the Hawks.
As for the contract itself, he explained, “If you want to pry a restricted free agent away from the incumbent team, you have to be aggressive. As we look at the numbers, we believe Tim is a starting two-guard in this league.” What that means for Courtney Lee remains to be seen, but Mills said Hardaway Jr.’s forthcoming salary is comparable to that of other starting shooting guards in the NBA.
The Knicks need another point guard
Mills did much of the talking on Monday, but Perry was clear in the team’s desire for a veteran point guard to supplement and guide Ntilikina.