It's been a few years since Donnie Walsh left the Knicks. In that time, I'd forgotten that NBA executives have, like, mouths and stuff that they can talk out of when people ask them questions. Just weeks after Steve Mills replaced the persistently silenced Glen Grunwald, he gave a feature interview to the Times, then sat down with reporters before the Knicks' game in Toronto. Scott Cacciola's piece in the Times is quite good, and I found it encouraging on the whole. For every bit like this that made me cringe:
Ultimately, though, all personnel decisions will be vetted by Dolan, Mills said.
"He’s given me the room to figure out what I think is best," Mills said. "But at the end of the day, he’s going to be involved in what we do."
There were a few lines like these:
"We have a friendly relationship, but it was important to be fair and straight with fans and people and you guys that he isn’t coming back," Mills said of Thomas, adding: "I enjoyed my tenure when I was here before, and I was in a different capacity. I think what Jim has done — with the sort of assets he’s made available to the team — is create a different team and a different structure."
Mills has his own ideas, of course. To start, he expressed a desire to incorporate more analytics into the fabric of the team. He said he believes in the power of numbers, citing the influence of Dean Oliver’s seminal book on the topic, "Basketball on Paper: Rules and Tools for Performance Analysis."
In his new role, Mills said he hoped to use advanced metrics to look at matters like lineup combinations, the length of player contracts and the efficacy of the scouting department.
Mills is still the guy from the Knicks Dark Ages, his hiring was still kinda creepy, and he still seems like more of a well-connected figurehead than a basketball ops whiz, but I liked what I read in that article. I recommend it. Meanwhile, if you're gonna be a figurehead (and if you're gonna give the one interview), you should probably make yourself available to all reporters. Mills did that Friday afternoon in Toronto, sitting down with reporters to give relatively vague thoughts about New York's big man situation, analytical tools, Amar'e Stoudemire, and so forth. There's more here.
The point is: Dolan gave his guy a job, and it seems like he'll let his guy speak. Or, at least he did this week.