Knicks GM Scott Perry was one of the few front office figures to survive the purge that followed the hiring of new team president Leon Rose. Many Knicks fans were perplexed, since Perry didn’t do much to distinguish himself as GM. His trade of Kristaps Porzingis backfired, his 2019 free agent signings mostly sucked, and most of his young players didn’t develop much, if at all.
To that last point, many fans wondered why struggling players like Kevin Knox, Dennis Smith Jr., and Frank Ntilikina didn’t get playing time in the G League. The answer, at least according to Marc Berman of The Post, was that Perry was concerned about how such a move would be perceived.
According to an NBA source familiar with the situation, [vice-president of player development Craig] Robinson lobbied to have the Knicks’ top prospects who weren’t getting enough NBA time to spend a few games — or weeks — in the G-League to gain rhythm and grow confidence.
Perry rejected the notion, feeling it would be perceived as too big a demotion and felt practice time as well as being around NBA coaches was more vital, according to a source. Robinson’s counter was that during the NBA season, practice time and scrimmages are limited.
Craig Robinson, one of Steve Mills’ Princeton buddies, is no longer with the team, but I happen to agree with him on this point. Many of the league’s best franchises, like the Raptors and Spurs, have sent their first-round picks to the G League. And who was Perry worried about offending? The players? If kids like Knox and DSJ thought they were too good for the G Leauge, they were sorely mistaken. More likely, Perry was too concerned with how such a move would like in the New York press.
Look, I get it: The Media in New York is way, way more massive than in, say, San Antonio. But a good GM should make the right move for his franchise, regardless of the headlines.
The good news is the new head coach Tom Thibodeau went out in his opening press conference and immediately made a case for sending youngsters to the G League:
“I think game-time is important. So if a young player is not getting the appropriate amount of time to develop, we’ll utilize the G-League. That’s become an important part of our league. We’ll certainly take advantage of that.’’
I think it’s fair to be wary of Thibs’ commitment to playing his young guys, but nobody can say the dude will be scared to make a move because how it will be perceived. Perhaps we’ll see players like Knox, Frank and DSJ in the Westchester next season.