After an embarrassing loss to the Memphis Grizzlies two weeks ago, fans throughout MSG serenaded James Dolan with his “favorite” chant: “Sell the team!”
It was loud, noticeable and, in a year in which the Knicks haven’t made much news on the court, the only way the team generates attention on the back pages and over the airwaves.
There was a very simple and correct way for James Dolan to deflect attention away from himself: he made a move he should have made a long time ago.
Last Tuesday, the Knicks dismissed director of basketball operations Steve Mills, a move that was celebrated throughout New York.
The tenure of Mills over his two stints in the Knicks front office is nothing short of shameful.
Since Mills rejoined the Knicks front office in 2013, the Knicks have compiled a record of 178-365. Enough said.
Steve Mills is a good man, but that is not the only qualification for running the front office of an NBA team.
The Knicks needed to go in a different direction. The direction is, well, interesting.
The Knicks announced Thursday that longtime player agent and power broker Leon Rose will be the next director of basketball operations.
It’s a bold choice, and Rose is as well respected as it gets in NBA circles. That said, he’s never worked in an NBA front office.
The agent-to-executive model has worked for the Lakers and Warriors, but neither situation was as chaotic and dysfunctional as the Knicks.
I have a hard time getting excited about any Knicks move, but can you blame me when you look at the last 20 years.
I hope we all look back on the hiring of Leon Rose as a turning point. I hope he can recruit free agent talent. I hope he can draft and build a team the right way.
I hope his strong ties around the league leads to the return of Jeff Van Gundy or Tom Thibodeau as head coach.
That all sounds nice, but that’s a whole lot of “hope.”
It sure would be nice to talk about a Knicks team that is playing meaningful February basketball, as opposed to the usual story of dysfunction that inevitably surfaces this time of the year.
Are brighter days ahead for the biggest joke in New York - and quite possibly all of professional - sports?
Look me up in five years.
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