This past Monday, the Knicks new brass consisting of President Steve Mills, newly hired General Manager Scott Perry, and head coach Jeff Hornacek took the stage in front the New York media to state their philosophy and plans for rebuilding the Knicks. Lets take a look at the major takeaways from the press conference.
1. Carmelo Anthony may be a Knick to start next seasonSteve Mills was asked several times to elaborate on his thought process and communications with Carmelo Anthony regarding the ongoing trade talks between the prolific scorer, the Knicks and the Houston Rockets. To his credit, Mills did not crack, but he clearly stated that there is no chance Melo will receive a buyout.
Additionally, Mills mentioned that as it became clear that the Knicks would bring on Scott Perry as the new general manager, he felt it was important to “pause” trade negotiations. From this point forward, Mills and Perry will look for the best deal that benefits the New York Knicks. However, it should be noted that, while the Knicks may look to increase Melo’s trade value by having him play for the Knicks during the 2017/2018 season, Melo does have an Early Termination Option (ETO) after this season, where he can become a free-agent, thus the Knicks may face the possibility of losing him for nothing.
From this point forward, Mills and Perry will look for the best deal that benefits the New York Knicks. However, it should be noted that, while the Knicks may look to increase Melo’s trade value by having him play for the Knicks during the 2017-18 season, Melo does have an Early Termination Option (ETO) after this season where he can become a free-agent, thus the Knicks may face the possibility of losing him for nothing.
2. The Core of the Big Apple
During his introductory statement, Mills explained that the core of the New York Knicks included Kristaps Porzingis, Willy Hernangomez, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Frank Ntilikina. Mills also discussed an emphasis on having these players grow together as a unit. Knicks can feel somewhat excited as more often than not, previously drafted players were never really given the chance to grow and develop in New York and were often traded away to other teams (see Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Iman Shumpert, Tim Hardaway Jr., and David Lee).
Mills also expressed a desire to enhance player development and growth of players in the G league. Mill’s philosophy will be centered around targeting young athletic players that are good defenders, coachable and accountable to their teammates and coaches.
3. Perry will have Authority to make Basketball “Suggestions”
After the Knicks failed to lure top executive David Griffin, much was made about Steve Mills needing to have final say on decision-making for basketball operations. Most fans on social media felt that anyone who came into the general manager position would be a “yes-man” and not have the autonomy needed to really rebuild the Knicks organization.
Mills did dispel some of this concern, but it is clear that he will have the final say on all decisions. Thus far it appears Perry’s primary objective is to interview and evaluate the current front office staff and assess any areas or positions where there can be improvement.
Perry’s most interesting quote came when he highlighted the idea of “diversity of thought and unity of purpose”. Perry expressed that both and he and Mills are aligned and on the same page with their ideas on how to build a basketball team.
4. Breaking Barriers
The press conference ended on a light and uplifting note where Mills and Perry were praised for being the first African-American front office duo in the NBA. Perry gave an eloquent anecdote crediting his father (former assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers) and family for their support during his career.
Additionally, while both Perry and Mills acknowledge the historical and social significance of their positions, both gentlemen wanted to be remembered for their competence, and ultimately, their ability to turn around the New York Knicks franchise.
5. Defense of the Tim Hardaway Jr. Contract
Throughout the press conference, Steve Mills was generally calm as he answered difficult questions regarding Phil Jackson‘s exit and Carmelo Anthony’s trade rumors. Yet, he seemed somewhat perturbed when asked to defend Tim Hardaway Jr.’s $71 million contract.
Mills explained that Hardaway Jr. was the first phone call he made at “12:02 a.m. ET” during free-agency. Mills also stated that starting two guards make on average “sixteen to sixteen and a half million per year” and that the Knicks see the former Michigan Wolverine as a starting shooting guard in the league. Once the Knicks brass came to this conclusion, they made the decision to be aggressive in their pursuit. However, one wonders what this will mean for Courtney Lee, as both shooting guards are being paid over ten million per year to play the same position.
Overall, the trio of Mills, Perry and Hornacek seemed to be on the same page and were intent on expressing the need for the franchise to focus on youth, athleticism and defense. Time will tell, whether this philosophy can be carried out appropriately and/or whether it will translate to wins during the season and postseason. Like most regimes, they will need some time, yet it will be interesting to see what type of improvement the Knicks can make in a depleted Eastern Conference will their young core full intact.