The people in charge of the Knicks are just playing musical chairs, and it looks like Steve Mills is now the one on the hot seat.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, seeing as Mills is one of two men who are primarily responsible for the shipwreck that is the 2019-20 Knicks. Sure, the Knicks are coming off a victory over the defending Western Conference Champion Golden State Warriors, but the Dubs are just as bad as the Knicks this year, and the ‘Bockers barely held on to win in overtime after blowing a 22-point lead earlier in the game. The Knicks are now 5-20 on the season, and although David Fizdale is gone, the problems presented by this year’s roster remain.
Mills, along with Scott Perry, built this roster, and according to SNY’s Ian Begley, barring a major turnaround the likes of which are basically impossible, Mills could be the next man to get the axe.
Per Begley, unless there is considerable improvement in the coming months, Mills is unlikely to still be in charge when next season begins. In fact, he could be booted before the 2019-20 campaign has even concluded.
Several members of the organization said this week that they fully expect Mills will be replaced as team president at the end of the season -- if not sooner -- unless the club somehow turns things around.
James Dolan’s apparent obsession with Masai Ujiri, who has fleeced the Knicks multiple times in trades during the last decade, means the current Toronto Raptors president of basketball operations is the executive the ‘Bockers are supposedly eyeing in the event that Mills does go down with the ship. While we’re on the topic of Ujiri, Adam Zagoria at Forbes has reported that in order to pry Masai from the Raptors before his contract is up in 2021, the Knicks would have to trade at least two draft picks, including “at least one first-rounder.”
If the Knicks don’t feel like trading for another executive — remember, the team parted with a future second round pick and some cash in order to nab Perry from the Sacramento Kings — there are others they might go after. According to Begley, Sam Presti, general manager of the Oklahoma City Thunder, also has fans within the Knicks organization — you might know Presti as the guy who drafted Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden and now has none of them on his team. Still, Presti’s Thunder have been run far better than Dolan’s Knicks, and there’s no question he’d be an upgrade over Mills.
If the Knicks’ downward spiral continues and Mills is let go, Begley reports that Perry would likely finish out the season, but he’s a Mills man, so chances are slim that he’d be retained for the long term in such a scenario.
By the way, before you begin planning that party to celebrate the impending ouster of Mills, you should be aware that Frank Isola of The Athletic recently reported the possibility that Mills will simply be “reassigned.”
Dolan likes loyalty, and Mills has been a loyal fellow for a long time. In fact, though many think that former face of the franchise Kristaps Porzingis is the snake, it’s Mills who has been slithering around the Knicks organization for two decades. He’s been around in one position or another since 1999, which, incidentally, marks the very beginning of the franchise’s ongoing free fall.
Speaking of Porzingis, you may have read the latest ESPN piece that digs into the disaster that is this current iteration of the Knicks, but for those who haven’t, it turns out the Knicks had been “gauging interest” in potential KP trades since before his trade demand. Here, enjoy this tidbit:
Porzingis and his brother, Janis, who serves as his agent, had planned to meet with management to discuss his future in January. Once the Porzingis brothers found out that the Knicks were discussing a trade with the Dallas Mavericks, sources said, they hurried a meeting the next morning and asked to be moved to one of four destinations: the Nets, Clippers, Raptors or Heat.
The meeting was brief, and the Knicks agreed to terms with Dallas before the brothers had returned from the suburbs to their Manhattan home.
Huh. So you’re saying the story the Knicks have been trying to sell, which is that Porzingis simply wanted out and they had no choice in the matter, isn’t exactly true? Truly shocking.
The Knicks spin about the Porzingis trade never made sense. Here’s what I reported last January after the deal with Dallas went down. pic.twitter.com/8H3Pe7zziK— Frank Isola (@TheFrankIsola) December 11, 2019
Porzingis has gone on to greener pastures, however — the Dallas Mavericks are 16-7, good for third place in the Western Conference — so we should get back to the Knicks.
While interim head coach Mike Miller could theoretically lead the team to a surprising turnaround that results in the erasure of the interim part of his title, it seems more likely that the Knicks look to hire a big name to coach the team next season. The franchise likes employing saviors who don’t actually save anything. To that end, Begley reported that Jason Kidd and Mark Jackson are two people who “have support within the organization.”
There might be other coaching candidates as well, with Shams Charania of The Athletic reporting that familiar faces Jeff Van Gundy and Tom Thibodeau could also be considered.
You know the deal, Once a Knick, always a Knick. Unless you’re Charles Oakley.
Lastly, this is the Knicks, so even when there’s something to be excited about its best to temper your expectations. Begley’s story on Mills’ potential firing notes that Mills and Perry both still have multiple years on their contracts, and includes the following sentence:
There’s also the possibility that MSG decision makers -- including Dolan -- could change their mind on Knicks leadership.