Steve Mills

Knicks’ Mills Issues Statement On Free Agency

After months of speculation that Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving could be headed to New York this summer to join the Knicks, the two star free agents only delivered on half of that scenario — they’ll move to New York, but they’ll join the Knicks’ cross-town rivals in Brooklyn.

Having missed out on their top free agents, the Knicks have reached agreements so far with Julius Randle and Taj Gibson and still have about $40MM+ in cap room available. With fans expressing disappointment in the Knicks’ summer, the team’s president of basketball operations Steve Mills issued the following statement tonight:

“While we understand that some Knicks fans could be disappointed with tonight’s news, we continue to be upbeat and confident in our plans to rebuild the Knicks to compete for championships in the future, through the draft, targeted free agents, and continuing to build around our core of young players.”

The Knicks’ original statement, before it was amended and re-issued, ended by saying the team would rebuild its roster “through both the draft and targeted free agents,” without mentioning the “core of young players” (Twitter link via Steve Popper of Newsday).

Knicks Notes: Stars, Harris, Randle

The Knicks are heading into the offseason the ability to carve out cap space for two max contracts. Kevin Durant has long been rumored as a target, though he isn’t the only star they will shoot for.

The team is hopeful about getting a meeting with Kawhi Leonard, sources tell Marc Spears of The Undefeated. New York also has interest in Kemba Walker and Kyrie Irving.

Whispers that the Knicks wouldn’t look to the next level of stars should they strike out on the top of the market began to surface recently. However, Spears hears that the front office is interested in Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic, both player that GM Scott Perry knows from his time in the Magic organization.

While Harris and Vucevic are considered a tier below the Durant-Leonard-level stars, both players are expected to garner max contracts on the open market. Here’s more from Spears on the Knicks:

  • New York and Julius Randle have a mutual interest, sources tell Spears. Randle has previously been linked to the franchise.
  • DeMarcus Cousins, DeAndre Jordan, Markieff Morris, and Marcus Morris are among the players on the Knicks’ radar, Spears writes. Jordan is reportedly a target of the crosstown Nets.
  • The Knicks‘ reputation has come a long way in just two years. No. 3 overall pick R.J. Barrett openly declared that he wanted to be in New York leading up to the draft. Team president Steve Mills said that in 2017, several Kentucky prospects didn’t want to meet with the team during the pre-draft process. “It was frustrating for me because I had never been in a situation where, especially rookies, there was a narrative amongst the young guys that they didn’t want to come play for the Knicks,” Mills said. “They didn’t want to meet with us in Chicago. I said, ‘We’ve got to change that and start with the young guys.’ ”
  • Mills added that the front office has the green light to take a patient approach this offseason should the team miss out on stars. “If the right guys are there for us, great, because we still have all the young pieces and draft picks to move forward,” Mills tells Spears.“And if they’re not, we’re going to keep building our plan, drafting our guys, playing well and potentially being trade partners. We feel really good about where we are going.”

Atlantic Notes: Knicks, King, Hernandez, Raptors

Knicks president Steve Mills broke his silence last week but declined to address whether the team will look to trade its lottery pick in a deal for disgruntled New Orleans star Anthony Davis, as relayed by Marc Berman of the New York Post.

The Knicks were awarded the No. 3 pick from the NBA’s Draft Lottery, something many fans saw as a bitter disappointment. The fans of New York, Mills says, should still be excited about where the team is positioned entering this summer.

“We’re excited about where we are,’’ Mills said Friday at the NBA draft combine, according to Berman. “We know we’ll get a good player at 3. So it’s something we’re excited about and look forward to.’’

With the Pelicans locked into Zion Williamson and Grizzlies reportedly focused on Ja Morant, the leading candidate for the Knicks could be Duke standout R.J. Barrett. In addition to the third pick, New York is starting to prepare for a pivotal free agency period — one that could shape the team’s future for better or worse.

“We want to build this team the right way,’’ Mills said. “We’ve always said we’re going to continue to work hard during the draft process. We believe we’re a team that can draft well and this is all part of our plan and growing our team.’’

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division tonight:

Steve Mills, Scott Perry Discuss Knicks’ Offseason

The Knicks are entering their most crucial offseason in years, but president of basketball operations Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry told reporters on Wednesday that they’re not necessarily feeling pressure to turn the team into an instant contender overnight with a series of major additions.

As Marc Berman of The New York Post relays, Perry said that the Knicks don’t view this summer as the “end-all or be-all,” noting that it will be more about taking steps in the right direction and avoiding major mistakes.

“What I look at is this summer presents an opportunity for us to get better,” Perry said, per Steve Popper of Newsday. “And so whether we get better through whatever the free-agent signings may or may not be, whatever the drafting process yields us, whatever potential trade may come our way, our goal is to get this team better over the offseason so there’s a better product on the floor next season. And that’s what we’re committed to.”

Here are a few of the most noteworthy comments from Mills and Perry, as detailed by Berman and Popper:

Mills on his expectations for the summer:

“We feel good about the summer. We feel we’re in a position that it gives us an opportunity. We hope we get lucky and we land free agents. And if not, we’ll keep building the way we’re building. The space gives us an opportunity to be flexible in terms of how we deal with trades. We can take guys into our [cap] room in the trade process, it gives us the flexibility to continue to build the team the way we’ve been building it. But it gives us an opportunity to make it better in a way with free-agent or trade prospects.”

Mills on what happens if the Knicks can’t use their cap room to land two star free agents:

“I don’t feel pressure to deviate from our plan if we don’t get two big free agents. I don’t feel that kind of pressure. The pressure is for us to continue with the process and build this team the way we’re saying we’re going to build it.

“… The worst thing we can do is react to doing the wrong thing because we’re disappointed something didn’t happen exactly the way we want it to happen this summer. That could be thing that could derail us from doing what we committed to our fans, what I committed to Jim (owner James Dolan) in how I would build this team.”

On why the Knicks are confident in their appeal after a 17-65 season:

Perry:
“This is New York City. It’s the greatest city in the world. There’s a lot of appeal here. Even though the team has struggled, it’s a definite attraction to becoming a player in this city who can help turn this organization around. I think that’s something that gives us excitement that it’s out there — the storied nature of this franchise and what the franchise meant to the NBA that still resonates.”

Mills:
“There’s a lot of noise and a lot of guys are interested in New York. They like Fiz (head coach David Fizdale). They like some of the changes we made in the organization. We hear that from agents. We read it from guys getting interviewed about what guys feel about the Knicks. We hear that from other players. At least we’re in the game, and hopeful something really good happens. But we won’t know until it happens.”

Here are a few more Knicks-related items stemming from Mills’ and Perry’s comments:

  • According to Berman, Mills said that in this year’s exit interviews, every player on the Knicks’ roster expressed a desire to return to the team — one even said he’d come back for less money.
  • Perry didn’t rule out the possibility of shopping a top-three draft pick if the Knicks luck out in the lottery, per Berman. “Once the draft process plays out, your phone rings a lot of times,” Perry said. “I can’t sit here and tell you exactly what would happen in that scenario.”
  • As Berman writes in a separate story, the Knicks sound more bullish on Kevin Knox‘s future than Frank Ntilikina‘s. However, they’re not ready yet to pass judgment on either player, noting that Ntilikina is still 20 years old and Knox is 19.
  • In an appearance on ESPN Radio, Mills insisted that the Knicks weren’t tanking or trying to lose games on purpose in 2018/19, tweets Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. While that may technically be true, it’d be hard to argue that the front office was trying to put the roster in position to win as many games as possible this season, which is entirely understandable during a rebuild.

Mills, Perry Cite Knicks’ Cap Space In Letter To Fans

Entering this summer, the Knicks are expected to be major players for some of the top free agents. Among the names the franchise is expected to pursue are Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

In a letter to season ticket holders, general manager Scott Perry and team president Steve Mills cited February’s Kristaps Porzingis trade — which netted the team Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan two first round picks — and cap space as reasons for confidence this summer, per Marc Berman of The New York Post. The 279-word letter is the first public acknowledgment from brass on the two max slots the team wields in an offseason with several viable candidates to fill them.

“We have created a tremendous amount of financial flexibility, which has put us in a position to potentially sign up to two max free agents,’’ the letter states. “We will continue to focus on the draft in an attempt to replicate the type of players we added last summer. Most importantly, we will use our cap space diligently and only on players who believe in our plan and are committed to building the New York Knicks into the championship team that you deserve.”

This letter is not the first public vote of confidence from a high-ranking team official in recent months. During a wide-ranging interview last month, team owner James Dolan said the team is set up to do well in free agency.

“Yes, I do think that. I think we offer a pretty good situation for [to acquire free agents]. One is a lot of them love New York, a bunch of them live in New York in the offseason,” Dolan said. “They know the team, they know [head coach David Fizdale] really well, they know [Mills] and [Perry]. Players want to go to a winner and they want to get paid. We’re definitely going to pay them. We think with them combined and the kids we’ve got today, we can build a winning team.”

Steve Mills Discusses Kristaps Porzingis Trade

The Knicks made the decision to trade Kristaps Porzingis last week, ending a three-and-a-half year run that featured a number of highs and lows. Porzingis, the team’s 2015 lottery pick, began to express his displeasure with the team and its losing ways, culminating in a meeting involving him, his agent, and Knicks management last Thursday.

“We started to get a feel that everything wasn’t going as well as we would’ve liked with Kristaps,” Knicks president Steve Mills said in an interview on MSG. “So Scott [Perry] and I spent a lot of time saying, ‘Okay. We need to be prepared if things aren’t going well or if he doesn’t want to be here, or that we need to be ready.'” 

Mills then revealed he held exploratory trade conversations with several different teams to test Porzingis’ value, sifting through the best offers before zeroing in on a package from the Mavericks.

“We at the end of the day had about eight potential scenarios we thought would be great for us if we made the decision that we were going to trade Kristaps,” Mills said.

It was then in the meeting, which was held just hours before the trade, that Porzingis officially made his trade request alongside his brother and agent Janis Porzingis.

For the Knicks, reaching a trade agreement before the February 7 trade deadline was paramount. Porzingis was set to become a restricted free agent at season’s end, and made his intentions known that he would sign elsewhere if the team didn’t honor his request.

“We felt the 7th was really important because if we let this go beyond the 7th, the leverage completely shifted. We would not have control of the situation,” Mills said, as relayed by Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. “We weren’t sure what Kristaps was going to come in and tell us. We didn’t know if he’d come in and tell us he wanted to be traded or he may have come in and said he wanted to do a one-year contract with the player option, which would then have made him untradeable and he would have had all the leverage. We just felt we needed to have some certainty by the 7th.

“When they came in to meet with us, they made it clear to us — it was a meeting that they requested — they made it clear to us that he did not want to play for the Knicks, that he was not going to re-sign with us as a free agent. And we in one way thanked him for the clarity because it gave us the information we needed to know.”

The Knicks would acquire Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews and two future first-round picks for offloading Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee and Trey Burke, ending the run for Porzingis in New York and placing a focus on free agency by creating two maximum-salary roster spots.

Atlantic Rumors: Rozier, Dudley, Chandler, Knicks

Unless Kyrie Irving has a change of heart about staying in Boston, the Knicks won’t have a shot at signing the Celtics’ starting point guard. They might have a chance at Boston’s other talent point man, Marc Berman of New York Post speculates. Terry Rozier would be a good fit for them, since they’re still trying to choose among Frank Ntilikina, Emmanuel Mudiay and Trey Burke. Ntilikina, Noah Vonleh, Allonzo Trier and Damyean Dotson are some of the young players New York could dangle as trade bait for Rozier, Berman opines. Rozier will be a restricted free agent in July.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Veteran forward Jared Dudley has been a pleasant surprise on and off the court for the Nets, Chris Milholen of Nets Daily writes. Dudley, acquired from the Suns in an offseason deal, has posted modest numbers but he’s started every game and he’s served as a mentor to the team’s younger players. “He’s doing it in the locker room and he’s also doing it with his play, because he doesn’t need the ball in his hands,” coach Kenny Atkinson said. Dudley’s $9.53MM salary comes off the books at the end of the season.
  • Sixers forward Wilson Chandler will remain on a minutes restriction as he works his way back from a hamstring injury, Sarah Todd of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Chandler will play approximately 15 minutes until coach Brett Brown is satisfied that he can handle a back-to-back situation. “I think the minute restriction won’t be long, a couple weeks or so, it’s not long term, I’m not worried about that at all,” Chandler told Todd.
  • The Knicks’ trio of president Steve Mills, GM Scott Perry and coach David Fizdale have put a plan into action designed for the long-term health of the franchise, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today writes. They are focused on player development and building through the draft rather than the quick-fix solution that have dragged down the franchise for so long.

Atlantic Notes: Knicks, Nets, Saric

It’s hard to be patient when building a team under the spotlight of New York City, Knicks president Steve Mills is acutely aware of just that. Still, after 45 years without a title and two particularly disappointing decades, the club is going to try it out.

I believe [Knicks] fans will accept a team that has a plan and you stick with it and if you deliver players, you do have some hope,” Mills told Steve Popper of Newsday. “[…] We think we have something we can see is different as long as we have the patience to stick to it.

Among other things, the Knicks will need to wait for Kristaps Porzingis to return from a knee injury months into the 2018/19 season and hope for progress out of raw 2017 lottery pick Frank Ntilikina.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Nets have addressed their rebounding shortage with vigor. Chris Milholen of Nets Daily writes that the club’s acquisitions of Ed Davis, Kenneth Faried and now Alan Williams prove that they’re committed to improving that particular shortcoming.
  • It’s reasonable to assume that the Sixers envisioned Markelle Fultz as a starter when they drafted him. Derek Bodner of The Athletic writes that much-improved sophomore Dario Saric may need to return to the bench if that’s the case.
  • There are less than 10 days until training camp begins. Currently, two Atlantic Division teams have maxed out their rosters at 20. The Knicks, Raptors and 76ers all have one more space to fill. Check out our list of NBA roster counts for the rest of the league, broken down by team.

Knicks Notes: Roster Composition, Porzingis, Riley

Recently appointed head coach David Fizdale plans to make the most of what could otherwise be considered a logjam of guards on the Knicks’ roster, Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News writes.

Roll them out there. Put them out there together,” Fizdale said. “It’s about speed, skill, aggressiveness, attack, playmaking. All of these guards have that ability. So I see a lot of versatility in there. I see a lot of combinations with them on the floor [for the Knicks] together.”

Given that there’s no shortage of ball carriers on the roster, Knicks president Steve Mills says that the club will ideally target a wing player in the upcoming June draft.

There’s more out of New York this evening:

  • The Knicks reached out to Heat president Pat Riley prior to hiring David Fizdale, Marc Berman of The New York Post. Riley, a former Knicks coach himself, has a polarizing history with the franchise, but was a strong reference for Fizdale, a former Heat assistant.
  • Prior to hiring Fizdale, the Knicks also reached out to Villanova head coach Jay Wright regarding the vacancy. Zach Braziller of The New York Post has the details on why the reigning national champion had no desire to leave his current situation.
  • Analyst Walt Frazier doesn’t foresee Kristaps Porzingis returning to the lineup for the Knicks this year, Zach Braziller of The New York Post writes. The former franchise great, who currently works for MSG Network, explains that Porzingis’ recovery time has him set to return in January or February, at which point the team will likely be out of the playoff picture.

Atlantic Notes: Fultz, Knicks, Brown, Crabbe

The Sixers need to make some hard decisions this offseason on where top pick Markelle Fultz fits into their future plans, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Inquirer argues. Now that they’ve established themselves as a playoff team, they have to decide how to get as deep as possible in future seasons with Fultz playing a bigger role. If Fultz isn’t a playoff-caliber two-guard by this time next year, the dream of a championship season could be dashed, Murphy continues. Ideally. Fultz will soon establish himself as a legitimate third option but they have guard against the possibility it never happens, Murphy adds.

In other news and musings around the Atlantic Division:

  • Knicks president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry have taken a much more thorough, well-thought-out approach to their coaching search, unlike predecessor Phil Jackson, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. The amount of candidates interviewed has reached double digits and the duo has traveled across the country and over the Atlantic Ocean in order to find the right fit, Berman continues. They don’t pretend to know everything and that’s a stark contrast to Jackson, who stopped listening and learning, according to Berman.
  • Celtics swingman Jaylen Brown vows to play Game 2 of the series against the Sixers on Thursday, as he told A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports. Brown, who was a game-time decision in the opener, is nursing a right hamstring injury. “I’ll be back. I’m playing,” he told Blakely, though he added, “I’m basically trying to come back in two days from a two-week type injury.”
  • Nets guard Allen Crabbe promises to improve his efficiency and production in his second season with the club, according to BrooklynNets.com. Crabbe averaged a career-best 13.2 PPG and set the team record for most 3-pointers made, but his long-range percentage dropped from 44.4% to 37.8%. “I didn’t have the consistent season I wanted to have,” Crabbe said. “But I got one year under my belt [in Brooklyn] and I know where I can be effective on this team and what I can bring – what I can do. Just go into off-season and come back a completely different player.”