Rich Kleiman

Knicks Notes: Miller, JVG, DSJ, Front Office

Although Mike Miller‘s hold on the Knicks‘ head coaching job beyond this season looks tenuous, multiple people within the organization support the idea of keeping Miller around in some capacity even if the team hires a new head coach, says Ian Begley of SNY.tv.

Begley and Marc Berman of The New York Post both point out that Miller is on good terms with Jeff Van Gundy, who is expected to receive consideration for the head coaching job from new president of basketball operations Leon Rose. Berman, who suggests Miller could stay on as an assistant coach if Van Gundy were to be hired, notes that JVG expressed support for the current interim coach during an appearance on NBA SiriusXM Radio.

“Mike Miller, to me, deserves every opportunity to finish this season out and win the job,” Van Gundy said. “And I think anybody plotting as a coach to try to undermine that opportunity is doing it wrong.”

Talk of Miller’s job security was reignited this week when brand consultant Steve Stoute suggested during an ESPN appearance that the Knicks will be looking to replace Miller this spring. The team and Stoute himself released statements hours later disavowing those comments. Interim head of basketball operations Scott Perry was among those “particularly bent out of shape” by Stoute’s comments on ESPN, a source tells Berman.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Sources tell Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News that Marcus Morris lobbied earlier this season for Dennis Smith Jr. – with whom he shares an agent – to receive more playing time. Smith, who lost an advocate when the Knicks traded Morris last week, has appeared in the team’s last eight contests, but logged fewer than eight minutes in each of the last two games.
  • Steve Popper of Newsday suggests (via Twitter) that Nuggets general manager Arturas Karnisovas may be a name to watch as the Knicks seek an experienced basketball executive to work with Leon Rose in their new-look front office. However, Popper cautions (via Twitter) that Karnisovas signed an extension with Denver last year.
  • Before the Knicks decided on Rose for their president of basketball operations opening, there was speculation that Kevin Durant‘s manager Rich Kleiman could be a candidate for the job. That wasn’t the case, according to Kleiman, who tells Ian Begley of SNY.tv that he never heard from the club.
  • Tom Thibodeau has been cited as a potential head coaching candidate for the Knicks, and while Taj Gibson isn’t openly campaigning for his former coach, he believes Thibodeau can have success in today’s NBA. “He’s been misunderstood,” Gibson said, per Marc Berman of The New York Post. “A lot of players have different mindsets. His mindset is winning. To win games you got to go through a lot of hard work. Sometimes young players don’t understand it.”

Knicks Have Had Exploratory Kyle Kuzma Talks

The Knicks and Lakers have had exploratory discussions about a possible Kyle Kuzma trade, league sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Charania follows up by tweeting that several contending teams are expressing interest in Marcus Morris. He doesn’t explicitly state that the Lakers are among those teams, but it seems safe to connect those dots.

While Morris could be a nice fit for the Lakers, it would be a challenge for the club to build a trade package for him with Kuzma as a centerpiece. Los Angeles would need to send out at least $10MM in salary and Kuzma makes just under $2MM. With Kentavious Caldwell-Pope unlikely to waive his no-trade clause to accept a trade to New York, that means the Lakers would have to package three or four players to get up to $10MM.

The Knicks added several veteran power forwards during the 2019 offseason, signing Morris, Julius Randle, Bobby Portis, and Taj Gibson in free agency. However, there’s no guarantee that any of those players will be with the franchise for the long term. Only Randle has a fully guaranteed salary for next season, and the man that signed off on all those deals – former president Steve Mills – was dismissed today by the team. It’s possible new interim head of basketball operations Scott Perry envisions a young player like Kuzma as a more logical long-term investment at the four.

Let’s round up a few more Knicks-related items…

  • While it remains to be seen what sort of compensation the Raptors would want for Masai Ujiri, sources tell Ian Begley of SNY.tv that a team in a similar situation last year asked for two first-round picks when another club inquired about a top executive under contract. That exec was considered to be a tier below Ujiri, according to Begley, who suggests that any Knicks’ discussions for the Raptors’ president of basketball operations would probably have to start with a baseline of two first-rounders.
  • Within that same story, Begley identifies several other veteran executives who could make sense as targets for the Knicks, including Pelicans GM Trajan Langdon. Sources tell Begley that Langdon has fans within the organization.
  • Kevin Durant‘s manager Rich Kleiman could be a candidate for the Knicks’ front office opening, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. A longtime fan of the team, Kleiman has previously expressed interest in running the Knicks. Sources tell Berman that Kleiman would likely want to hire Mark Jackson as New York’s head coach if he were in position to do so.