Knicks Execs Express Disappointment In Slow Start

Following a blowout 108-87 loss to the Cavaliers on Sunday, Knicks president of basketball operations Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry held an unscheduled press conference to address the team’s early-season struggles. New York is off to a 2-8 start in 2019/20 despite making a series of veteran free agent additions aimed at helping the club compete for a playoff spot.

“Given that this is our 10th game, we felt like we had an obligation to come and speak to you guys,” Mills told reporters, including Ian Begley of “Obviously, Scott and I are not happy with where we are right now. We think the team’s not performing to the level that we anticipated or we expected to perform at and that’s something that we think we have to collectively do a better job of delivering the product on the floor that we said we would do at the start of this season.”

Mills added that he and Perry still believe in the Knicks’ plan, their roster, and the coaching staff, but reiterated that the results so far have been disappointing. According to Mills, the Knicks’ top execs felt as if it was important to communicate that dissatisfaction to fans, stressing that they’re “committed to making this better.”

As Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News observes, the timing of the impromptu press conference appeared to be related to a halftime meeting involving Mills, Perry, and team owner James Dolan. A source tells Bondy that Dolan expressed his disappointment during that meeting, while Frank Isola of The Athletic hears Mills and Perry were ordered by Dolan to address the media after the game.

Jim still believes in the plan that we put together, but he’s passionate as we are about this,” Mills said after the game, per Begley. “So he would want us to have better results on the floor as well, but I think Jim is a fan and believes in what we’re doing. But he has the same expectations that we have and this is really about how we feel about what we should be doing, what we should be delivering as a group. We all take responsibility for that.”

Based on Sunday’s presser, it’s fair to wonder just how hot head coach David Fizdale‘s seat is getting. Multiple sources told Begley that there’s no indication that any head coaching change – or management change – is imminent, but those same sources said nothing has been ruled out with regard to in-season changes.

For his part, Fizdale claimed responsibility for the Knicks’ struggles so far and admitted he’s beginning to feel some urgency to start winning games, as Bondy relays. However, he also pointed out that there’s plenty of time for New York to turn things around.

“A good friend of mine told me to never overreact to overreactors,” Fizdale said, according to Steve Popper of Newsday. “We’re two games from the eighth seed. The team that’s in the eighth seed right now has four wins. So it’s not that like, oh my God, everybody’s acting like the world is coming to an end. It’s not. We just have to find our consistency in our games so we can start playing better basketball.”

Sean Deveney of writes that Fizdale has the support of several Knicks players, including RJ Barrett, which is one factor working in his favor. Marcus Morris and Bobby Portis were among those to publicly back their head coach on Sunday, according to Bondy.

“Fiz is a great guy, great coach. He’s a frontline dude,” Morris said. “He’s always going to speak on it first but he’s not coming out and giving up 20-point leads. At the end of the day, f–k the X’s and O’s. We have to come out and we have to be better.”

Although a head coaching change is typically the first move made by a struggling team looking to shake things up, Mills and Perry shouldn’t necessarily be considered safe either, Isola writes. As of last week, the plan was to give the Knicks’ top executives at least the rest of the season to figure things out, but that’s not set in stone, per Isola.

Several people familiar with the Knicks’ thinking believe Dolan intends to take another run at Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri next year, according to Isola. It’s safe to assume the Knicks would be willing to make it worth Ujiri’s while financially if they pursue him, but the Wizards reportedly attempted a similar push in June and had no luck (they later denied having interest). There’s also no guarantee that Ujiri would view working for Dolan as an upgrade on his current job.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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19 thoughts on “Knicks Execs Express Disappointment In Slow Start

  1. hoosierhysteria

    Knicks are sports worst ownership??? Daniel Snyder….cast your votes. Jets are up there too. Browns….

  2. Jason Lancaster

    The Knicks have a weird roster, the owner is probably setting rotations (as he’s done before), and the coach seems impulsive when dolling out minutes. How anyone could expect good results is beyond me.

  3. Buckman

    The Fiz has gone flat. Honestly did not have a chance with the roster he was given.

  4. Here are Knicks players ordered by minutes:

    So the first 4 are new players… 6 of the First 9 are new ones… 7 on 11… And only because payton had a injury, if not one more

    Not easy i guess, not easy

  5. fitsiqis65

    The Knicks lack talent and skill. Build around RJ and maybe Knox and move on.

    As for Fitz- I find him a bit arrogant but honestly who could coach this roster in the NBA???

  6. MrKiX718

    At the end of the day it all starts at PG for NY. They have terrible PG play and that starts and ends the chaos. If they had a competent PG they wouldn’t be in this mess. They need to make some phone calls and trade a few of the new guys and a pick and try to get a defensive unselfish PG to run this team. I dunno y they didn’t go after Ricky Rubio. Would’ve be a nice pick up. But anyways that’s what needs to happen.

    • Chucktoad1

      A unselfish defensive PG you say? Perhaps they could try someone like Frank Ntilikina who albeit in small sample sizes has shown signs of turning the corner lately. Having Fizdale give him some consistent minutes to develop a rythym might do wonders.

      • MrKiX718

        I get ur point Chucktoad1, but u need someone to teach Frank how to run a team which is y I suggested Ricky Rubio. Have a veteran PG start this season and then by next season or the following, (which would coincide with the new deal after his rookie deal finishes) he would be ready to take over a team after learning from the veteran. I’m not against playing Frank, but I do think he is not ready at the moment to run the team. I’m all for bringing veterans to help out the kids, but bringing in the right veterans not just any veteran. Get my point?

    • Jason Lancaster

      Good point guards aren’t easy to come by, so the Knicks needed to focus on developing the guys they have. Between Mudiay (who’s playing well in Utah now off the bench) and Ntilnika (sp?) who played well this summer, they should have been able to have a starter. To say nothing of Dennis Smith Jr, who seems like he could be good with time.

      The problem isn’t the players. It’s the owner.

      • x%sure

        Those are not good players… Fiz should have asked for one after last year, and Dolan not waited for the 2020 draft to get one.

        Im not sure what their goal was really.

  7. Grant

    I think the issue with the knicks is they have never just burned it to the ground and tried to rebuild with a clean slate. Every coaching or management change they have kept someone around from the old regime and the same mistakes keep happening.

    • MrKiX718

      Grant, they are building from the ground up with a basic clean slate. But like I mentioned already, we brought in a few veterans that made no sense. I’m all for teaching the kids but we needed to bring in the right veterans. We are young but we need to emphasize teaching which I don’t think is being done. I think if we continue at the rate we’re going Fiz will be let go. I am and always will be all for Mark Jackson.

  8. H.Henderson

    I feel that its Randle, Morris, and Ellington that are hurting the Knicks atm. Randle with poor defense, shot selection, to go with high turnovers. Morris also with shot selection and that temper (Can’t be good for the locker room). Ellington being in a shooting slump is hurting the team because he receives consistent minutes when the Knicks have the likes of Dotson and Trier whom both NEED more playing time.

    IMHO they should have never signed Ellington or Payton without trading away some guards. Never should have signed Morris because he is eating away at precious playing time for Knox. And quite frankly NEVER should have traded Porzingis because now we have Randle.

    The Knicks botched their future when they traded Porzingis. Smith Jr at best is a 6th man. Trade away several of those off season assets and build around Barrett, Knox, and Robinson. Or fire Fizdale and the entire front office and maybe the NBA steps in and says enough is enough.

  9. Hard to imagine a more unimpressive FO duo than Mills and Perry. What “plan” ? Nothing is being built year over year, at least nothing good. They ran through over 70 mm of cap space like they were double parked, and somehow managed to do so without bringing back a single long term asset. The one multi-year deal they signed (Randle) is already a bad contract. The rest are just temps that, at best, might be dealt for minor consideration, but it will likely be of less value than the playing time they’ll take away from younger players in the process.

  10. mcdusty49

    Not sure what they expect when it’s been a known thing that players do not want to come to the Knicks because of Dolan…maybe he should sell the team to someone who won’t continue to run a once proud organization into the ground

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