Ahead of training camp, president Steve Mills, general manager Scott Perry and head coach Jeff Hornacek held a press conference Friday.
To no surprise, the questions revolved mostly around Carmelo Anthony, whose status with New York has been in limbo all summer.
On moving on with or without Carmelo, Perry says the plan is the former.
“Our plan is that Carmelo will be with us on Monday for Media Day, and on Tuesday when we start practice.”
Back in August, a report surfaced that Latvian forward Kristaps Porzingis skipped his exit interview due to an argument with coach Hornacek.
On the validity of that report, the Knicks head coach wouldn’t say much.
“KP and I have a good relationship, I’m not going to comment on any reports that say otherwise. We followed him through EuroBasket and we’re happy with his conditioning. Moving forward in this league, he’s going to get a lot of opportunities to grow into a leader.”
Hornacek reiterated the front office’s commitment to moving forward with Anthony a part of the team.
“As coaches, this is our team. The guys on roster right now. Carmelo buzz was all summer long, we’ve been going through this stuff. We have him in mind moving forward.”
On what’s going to be new next season, all three men are looking for the team to upgrade their defense.
“Steve, Scott, and I have talked. The big thing is that defensive identity, we want these guys to get in the open floor more. We have some great shooters on this team.”
With Anthony’s future still in the air, Hornacek was asked if Porzingis is ready to step into the number one role.
“I think that’s what happens. Your first year, you’re just trying to get used to things. KP had a great first year. The second year everyone knows who you are, they start scheming for you, and I think he did great with that last year.”
When asked if the trade rumors will affect locker room chemistry or Anthony’s overall attitude, Hornacek remains confident all will be fine.
“I think Carmelo is going to be fine with our team, the chemistry is going to be fine. Players understand your name is going to be thrown around. We’re going to do every thing we can to bring this team together, and impact them in a positive way.”
When asked the team’s vision going forward, General Manager Scott Perry maintains the defensive theme.
“I think we just need to focus on us. Getting better each and every day, becoming a better defensive team. A team that competes each night. We’re going to try our best to win.”
Though the Knicks have toyed with trading Anthony, Hornacek says they aren’t denying his true talent or role with the team.
“The role isn’t going to change. If you don’t think I’m not going to start him you’re crazy. He was a great player, still is. For us and our team.”
Perry was asked about the status of a trade, which to no one’s surprise, he says proved difficult.
“We’ve been in constant contact with he and his representatives. At the end of the day, we said if there was something there that made sense, we would consider it. Obviously we sit here today, and that hasn’t happened. Yet.”
Yet he doesn’t rule out the idea of a trade taking place in the future.
“Part of my job is to help this team get better on a daily basis. In any of the means that are available to us.”
Hornacek was asked about Frank Ntilikina’s status, who New York drafted with the number eight pick of the 2017 NBA Draft.
“Frank, we really like what we’re seeing. He’s getting better and better every day. He’s just always played, no strength conditioning. He’s doing some great things, there’s an opening there that he can compete. We’ll have to see through training camp and preseason.”
The New York Knicks signed veteran point guards Ramon Sessions and Jarrett Jack this summer, and Perry provided some insight behind their choices.
“With the veterans, we wanted guys who have a lot of NBA experience. Sessions, Jack, those guys have been pros. Those guys will be good competition and will be able to share their experiences with Frank.”
The press was relentless in their pursuit of Carmelo news, but Perry attempted to silence any doubt.
“Carmelo Anthony is a New York Knick, and he’s apart of our basketball team.”
Regarding Ntilikina, says the point guard position is as important as an NFL quarterback.
“I think the thinking all along, that position, the point guard position is equivalent to NFL quarterback . A young guy, the more knowledge he can tap into in that film room, the better. “
On whether or not Jack and Sessions will be starting, President Steve Mills says they know their place, whatever it ends up being.
“Jarrett and Ramon understand what their role is, starting or not. They understand what Frank’s role is. They are ready to be apart of developing a young player.”
On the Knicks’ least popular player, Steve says he’s out to prove the doubters wrong.
“Joakim (Noah) feels like he’s got a lot to prove, going into next season.”
When asked how the Knicks will change the defensive effort, Hornacek it’s not about multiple different players.
“Sometimes it’s not having to add five or six defensive players, sometimes its one or two guys who bring it like that. It’s contagious. Our commitment is to being a defensive team, that’s going to fight hard each and every night, leave it all out on the line.”
Though they looked stiff regarding Carmelo Anthony’s future, there are certainly some positives to today’s conference.
No one’s ruling out an Anthony trade, but the Knicks front office is certainly promising better days.