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James Dolan says Knicks are likely to sign big free agents, declares team not for sale

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Dolan dished on a variety of topics during a more than 45 minute interview with Michael Kay.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at New York Knicks
James Dolan spoke at length to Michael Kay on Tuesday, using the very same mouth as seen in this photo.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

During a Tuesday appearance on The Michael Kay Show, James Dolan discussed the Madison Square Garden policy on banning fans, suggested the Knicks are a lock to land major free agents, and proclaimed that the team is not for sale.

You can watch the entire interview, in full, right here. There’s a lot to digest. Let’s dig in!

#BanGate

For Dolan, the primary purpose of the in-studio interview seemed to be explaining the rationale behind #BanGate. To quickly recap, a fan was recently banished from MSG for shouting at Dolan to sell the Knicks. The fan filmed the encounter and promptly sold the video to TMZ, which gleefully posted it to the internet for all to see.

According to Dolan, the situation was a premeditated “ambush,” and although in retrospect he wishes he had simply walked right on by without taking the bait, the decision to ban the fan will stand.

“These people clearly were there for a confrontation,” Dolan said.

Even though the optics of the ordeal are not ideal, Dolan pushed back against the idea that it might impact the team’s chances to sign big name free agents with all the cap space the Knicks carved out by trading Kristaps Porzingis.

Dolan thinks the Knicks are sure to sign stars

Dolan professed confidence in Steve Mills and Scott Perry, and indicated that the front office has some kind of knowledge we mere onlookers aren’t privy to with regards to free agents wanting to play in New York.

“New York is the mecca of basketball,” Dolan said. “We hear from people all the time, from players, from representatives, about who wants to come. We can’t respond because of the NBA rules, etc. But that doesn’t stop them from telling us, and they do. I can tell you, from what we’ve heard, I think we’re going to have a very successful offseason when it comes to free agents.”

Huh. Cool, cool.

So the Knicks have heard, perhaps through some kind of vine made of grapes, that certain players are hungry for a piece of the Big Apple. This is all going to go according to plan, and the Knicks are going to sign Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Maybe even Kawhi Leonard, too! Kawhi not?

Don’t bother offering to buy the Knicks

Dolan doubled down on denying that the Knicks are for sale, and even rejected a hypothetical, nonexistent $6 billion dollar offer. The question of whether he would consider selling the team first entered the public sphere after a December interview with ESPN’s Ian O’Connor, in which Dolan said that as majority shareholder of the company that owns the Knicks, he has a responsibility to keep all options on the table.

“No, we’re not selling the team,” Dolan said on Tuesday. “I regret saying what I said before.”

Dolan also bashed Bill Simmons — who on a recent podcast said that the billionaire kazoo enthusiast is “courting offers” for the team — for reigniting the rumor. As a matter of fact, Dolan accused The Sports Guy of possibly colluding with an undisclosed team general manager to try and cramp the Knicks’ style come free agency.

“There are teams that do not want us to get free agents,” Dolan said. “Some, in particular. [Simmons is] very close friends with the GM of one team. What they’re doing is they’re trying to destabilize, because they know we’re favored.”

Simmons, taking pride in being a provocateur, responded with the following Tweet:

Others odds and ends

> The last time Dolan went on Kay’s show, to discuss the banishment of Charles Oakley, he brought a large binder filled with notes. This time all he needed was a notepad. He had a notable need for the notepad when listing the promising young Knicks like Mitchell Robinson, Kevin Knox and Allonzo Trier.

> Of Frank Ntilikina, Dolan said: “We don’t know how good Frank’s going to be.” Frank’s pesky groin is currently the cause of significant Knicks-related anxiety. Will we ever see Frank again!?

> There was a lot of discussion about how reporters, specifically those from the Daily News, have been barred from attending certain Knicks media events. Dolan’s argument is that all of the press, even those he doesn’t like, receive the access required under NBA rules, but it’s his right to invite only the people he wants when the team throws a private press conference. The logic makes sense, but it’s still pretty petty.

> The commitment to the company line on the Porzingis trade is strong. “When he came in and said to us, ‘I don’t want to be here, I’m going to leave the first chance I get and I want to get traded…’ that sort of cast the die on what we had to do,” Dolan said. Hey KP, a guy can only stay woke for so long before he has to get some shut eye. Your side of the story would be appreciated at some point.

Conclusions

Dolan doesn’t open himself up to interviews like this all that often, so it’s definitely useful to get a peek inside the head of the guy who owns the team you spend way too much time thinking about. Overall, Dolan clearly wants the Knicks to be good, he just hasn’t been able to figure out how to make that happen, and it’s been a couple decades.

At the moment, he seems unnervingly confident that the Knicks are primed to pick up some stars in free agency. By next season, Dolan says, the Knicks could be a contender. Hey, it could happen.

Is it any crazier than believing in a unicorn?