“Marketing guru” Steve Stoute is helping the New York Knicks undergo a rebrand and he’s already looking ahead to the next coaching staff.
If there was any chance that interim head coach Mike Miller could earn a permanent gig with the New York Knicks, that possibility took a major hit on Tuesday. Self-proclaimed “branding guru” Steve Stoute was recently hired by the Knicks and he claims he’s going to have a major voice in the organization going forward.
For what it’s worth, Stoute is already counting out Miller, despite the interim coach’s relatively impressive 13-19 record.
“There had to be a change,” Stoute said in reference to former team president Steve Mills’ reassignment on ESPN’s “First Take.” “That change will bring a new coach and new coaches that are going to help develop these younger players. 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.”
Miller appears to be a lame-duck head coach without a future in New York. That’s quite clear based on Stoute’s comments. Of course, it’s understandable why a new regime would want to bring in its own coach, but the timing of the comments is questionable.
For one, the Knicks are reportedly expected to have Jeff Van Gundy and Tom Thibodeau on their coaching shortlist. Van Gundy has repeatedly said that he won’t discuss a coaching position while someone else has the job. Stoute’s disregard for Miller likely won’t sit well with these two “old school” coaches the Knicks might want to take over the team.
But that wasn’t the only bombshell Stoute dropped in the interview. The guru also pointed to free agency as one of the “biggest things” facing the franchise.
“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. “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.”
Sure, from Stoute’s position, changing the perception of the team is a key mission, but attracting free agents cannot be the team’s main goal in mind. Building a strong organization from top to bottom must be the priority.
If the Knicks have organizational stability and continue to develop the young players, free agents will eventually flock to Madison Square Garden. Trying to make the Knicks “cool” again before addressing the other issues in the organization is a recipe for disaster.
The Knicks have yet to officially announce the hiring of super-agent Leon Rose as president of basketball operations, but it’s a foregone conclusion at this point. He has plenty of connections from his days with CAA, but it takes more than connections to attract the best of the best in free agency.
As of right now, Stoute is the only one speaking for the front office. The last time anyone from the front office spoke to the media came on Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, when Mills and general manager Scott Perry held an impromptu press conference following a blowout loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
According to Stoute, there are clearly two things on the agenda. First up is hiring a new coaching staff to replace Miller and the current group in place. Second on the docket is making the Knicks a desirable place for free agents for the first time in a long time.
Following Stoute’s television appearance, the Knicks released a statement in regards to his comments on the coaching staff:
“While Steve Stoute is a valued contributor to the Knicks’ marketing and branding efforts, he does not speak on behalf of New York Knicks personnel and basketball operations. Any decisions regarding the operations of the team will be made by the new President of the New York Knicks.”
Stoute added a statement of his own, clarifying the comments:
“In my excitement to defend the Knicks on live TV today, I inadvertently insinuated about Knicks personnel. I look forward to working with Knicks management to elevate the great Knicks brand moving forward.”