William Wesley

Knicks Notes: Thibodeau, Van Gundy, Miller, Woodson

Former Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy believes the organization is making the right choice in Tom Thibodeau, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Thibodeau, who is close to finalizing a five-year agreement with the team, was brought to New York as an assistant by Van Gundy in 1996.

“I’m extremely happy for Tom and equally happy for the Knicks as they hired an elite coach who will give everything he has to turn the Knicks around,” the ABC/ESPN broadcaster said.

New York began its search June 4 and talked to 11 candidates. However, many were considered to be courtesy interviews as Thibodeau was reportedly a strong favorite all along. Berman points out that five of the candidates — Ime Udoka, Wes Hardy, Chris Fleming, Pat Delaney and Jamahl Mosley — have no experience as NBA head coaches.

“Tom has always been their guy,” a source told Berman.

There’s more news on the Knicks:

  • The Knicks first offered the job to Thibodeau on Thursday morning, Berman tweets. He responded with a counter offer later in the day, but they didn’t make significant progress toward an agreement until Saturday.
  • Thibodeau should have plenty of time to prepare for a proposed group workout next month involving the eight teams not in Orlando, Berman writes in a separate story. Knicks president Leon Rose supports the idea of the gathering so the young roster can learn the new coach’s system, but isn’t in favor of scrimmages with other teams.
  • Interim coach Mike Miller and former Knicks head coach Mike Woodson both have “strong internal support” to be part of Thibodeau’s staff, sources tell Ian Begley of SNY.tv. Among those conducting the interviews along with Rose were executive vice president and senior advisor William “World Wide Wes” Wesley, general manager Scott Perry, and vice president of basketball and strategic planning Brock Aller.
  • The Knicks’ new management team has long supported Thibodeau, and the only real alternative would have been John Calipari if he had been willing to leave Kentucky, a source tells Steve Popper of Newsday.
  • Ed Pinckney, Andy Greer and Rick Brunson served as assistants to Thibodeau in both Chicago and Minnesota and should be considered candidates to join his staff in New York, notes Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic, who also hears that Miller may be retained to provide some continuity. Vorkunov speculates that the hiring of Thibodeau means the Knicks aren’t interested in a long rebuilding process.

Knicks Notes: Booker, Draft, Wesley, Mini-Camp

Suns guard Devin Booker may be the player to watch as the Knicks try to trade for an unhappy star, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Booker is a former client of new team president Leon Rose, and as a Kentucky alumnus, he has a close relationship with newly hired executive VP William Wesley. Booker had plenty of good things to say about Rose when he became part of New York’s front office.

“I think he’ll do unbelievable,’’ Booker said. “One of the most genuine guys I know. One of the most honest guys I know. So I’m happy for him in his new position. I think the Knicks are in really good hands.’’

Berman suggests the Suns’ lack of success may eventually cause Booker to want to move on. They haven’t come close to making the playoffs in any of his five seasons.

There’s more from New York:

  • Finding a shooter will be a priority in the draft, Berman adds in the same piece. The Knicks own three of the top 38 picks and will be looking for a 3-point threat after shooting just 33% from beyond the arc this season. Berman notes that LaMelo Ball remains the team’s first choice among point guards, but he hasn’t been an effective long-distance shooter. If they draft him, the Knicks are hoping he can develop that part of his game, just like his brother Lonzo has.
  • Wesley has exerted influence over owner James Dolan for the past 15 years and was responsible for at least one disastrous decision, Berman states in a separate story. Wesley reportedly convinced Dolan to hire Steve Mills to replace Glen Grunwald as general manager in 2013 after a 54-28 season. The Knicks haven’t made the playoffs since that move.
  • Steve Popper of Newsday questions whether the Knicks should bother with a planned mini-camp in Chicago for the eight teams that weren’t invited to Orlando. The team wants to bring players together for workouts, but sees no benefit to a combined effort with seven other franchises while the coronavirus continues to spread, Popper writes. New York also has a coaching search to concentrate on and would prefer to hold private sessions so the new coach can begin to teach his system to the players.

Knicks Notes: Coaching Search, Rose, Wesley, Harper

A recent report indicated that the Knicks would look to hire a permanent head coach by the time the season resumes in Orlando on July 30, and president of basketball operations Leon Rose essentially confirmed as much in a conversation with Mike Breen on MSG Network this week. As Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic relays, Rose said he expects the search to last until mid-to-late July.

“We want to find the right leader that can develop our young players, as well as hold everyone accountable and take us from development to becoming a perennial winner,” Rose told Breen. “We also want somebody that we think will be collaborative with the front office. Someone that when you’re in that huddle, you’re looking in that coach’s eyes, every player that’s looking at him knows that person is driving the ship and going to get the job done.”

As Vorkunov and Ian Begley and Alex Smith of SNY.tv pass along, Rose also addressed several more topics, including the possibility of the Knicks becoming a free agent destination, his thoughts on some of the team’s young players, and the club’s draft plans. On the subject of appealing to top free agents, Rose said he wants to make sure the organization is “player-friendly and first-class,” per SNY.tv.

We’re going to work as hard as we can that this is the place you want to be at,” Rose said. “We have the greatest city in the world, we have an iconic arena and we just need to create culture that people are going to want to be part of.”

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Greg Joyce of The New York Post takes a closer look at the 11 known candidates for the Knicks’ head coaching position.
  • Former Knicks Rasheed Wallace and Stephon Marbury are unimpressed with the team’s decision to hire Rose and William Wesley (“World Wide Wes”), as Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News writes. Wallace called the decision a “brain fart,” while Marbury referred to Wesley as a “world wide sucker.”
  • Following the Knicks’ waiver claim of Jared Harper on Thursday, Harper’s former college coach Bruce Pearl praised the Auburn alum, calling him a “flat-out winner” and suggesting New York should retain him for 2020/21. “The Knicks are getting a true scoring point guard,” Pearl told Adam Zagoria of Forbes. “He’s under-sized, but pound-for-pound is as strong and athletic as any player out there on the floor. He has tremendous range and the ability to pull from deep. He’s special in ball-screen and plays at a real good tempo.”
  • In case you missed it, the Knicks made another waiver claim today, nabbing Theo Pinson from the Nets and releasing Allonzo Trier to make room on the roster.

Knicks Notes: Woodson, Coaching Search, Wesley

Mike Woodson, one of 11 known candidates for the Knicks‘ head coaching vacancy, tells Ian Begley of SNY.tv that he’s “ecstatic” to be given the opportunity to return to the job he held from 2012-14. Although Woodson would have to beat out a long list of contenders to claim the position, including presumed frontrunner Tom Thibodeau, the former Knicks head coach believes he’s the right fit.

“I did my job when I was here. We won games. The fan base was engaged. I walked out of the Garden many nights thinking that the fans were proud and excited about what we were doing,” Woodson told Begley. “Am I capable of coming back to New York and helping them build a winning team again? I feel confident in that, I absolutely do.

“I think with the people in charge, with (president of basketball operations) Leon (Rose) and (GM) Scott (Perry) and (owner) Jim (Dolan) and everyone else that they hired on board, they will build a winner. At the end of the day, it takes everybody being on board to make it happen. That’s what we did (the last time I was here). We all had a great working relationship when I was here. That can definitely happen again. “

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • While New York’s rebuilding process has taken some criticism in recent years, Woodson tells Begley that he thinks the franchise in well-positioned to improve in the coming years: “The Knicks are in a great position because they’ve got cap space, they’ve got room to go out and wheel and deal in the free agent market, and they’ve got room to make trades. They also have young players that you can continue to develop and they have draft picks. It’s a great combination.”
  • The Knicks have begun interviewing their head coaching candidates via video, and their search is expected to extend into July, league sources told Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link) this week. A previous report indicated that the team would take its time with the process, intending to have a new coach in place sometime before play resumes on July 30.
  • William Wesley was named the Knicks’ executive vice president and senior basketball advisor today, despite some speculation that he wouldn’t take on an official role with the team. According to Begley, Wesley decided he wanted to formally commit to the franchise due to his strong relationships with Leon Rose and James Dolan. “It just got to the point where it made sense for him,” a source told SNY.tv. “He wanted to be fully invested in the team.”

Knicks Hire William Wesley As Executive VP, Senior Advisor

The Knicks have hired William Wesley – also known as “World Wide Wes” – as an executive vice president and senior basketball advisor, the team announced today in a press release. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported that the move was imminent.

As Wojnarowski details, Wesley is considered one of the most well-connected people in basketball and has previously worked with new Knicks president of basketball operations Leon Rose at CAA. Wesley has been a consultant in the coaching division of CAA for 13 years, Woj notes.

“My long history with and respect for (Knicks owner) Jim Dolan and Leon Rose, as well as the chance to be part of the New York Knicks, made this an opportunity I wanted to pursue,” Wesley said in a statement. “I look forward to joining the current staff and moving the organization toward a successful future.”

When word first broke that New York was hiring Rose to lead its basketball operations department, there was speculation that Wesley would join him. A subsequent report from Shams Charania suggested that World Wide Wes wouldn’t actually join the Knicks in a formal capacity, but it appears the two sides have had a change of heart on that.

Meanwhile, Marc Berman of The New York Post speculates (via Twitter) that Wesley’s hiring is a good sign for Tom Thibodeau‘s candidacy for the Knicks’ head coaching vacancy, given the long-standing relationship between Thibodeau and World Wide Wes.

The Knicks also announced that Alex Kline and TJ Zanin have been hired as scouts. Kline’s deal was previously reported. Zanin has worked for the Grizzlies, Sixers, Clippers, Nets, and Hornets in the past, serving as Charlotte’s director of college scouting from 2015-17. His brother Frank Zanin recently joined the Knicks as an assistant GM.

Latest On Knicks’ Front Office Shakeup

As the Knicks restructure their front office, Allan Houston appears to be in line for a promotion, according to Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News.

Houston, 48, was New York’s former assistant general manager and currently serves as GM for the organization’s G League affiliate in Westchester. He was a strong proponent of hiring that team’s former head coach, Mike Miller, as the Knicks’ interim coach after David Fizdale was fired. Houston has been with the organization since 2008 and has survived multiple management shakeups.

Bondy shares information on a few other prominent figures:

  • The Knicks have given up on an attempt to lure Rich Cho from the Grizzlies‘ front office. A source tells Bondy that Cho is happy in Memphis, where the team is a surprise playoff contender with a bright future built around Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. Cho has more than two decades of experience as an NBA executive and is a former GM with both Charlotte and Portland.
  • Vice president of player development Craig Robinson, best known as the brother of former First Lady Michelle Obama, is seeing a reduction in responsibilities. Robinson was hired three years ago by ousted team president Steve Mills to run the Knicks’ player development initiative. However, the organization has experienced a mixed draft record during that time and is using a lineup mostly consisting of players who were developed by other teams.
  • No decision has been made on GM Scott Perry, but he has a strong relationship with William Wesley (“Worldwide Wes”), who will have an unofficial role with the team through his close ties to incoming president of basketball operations Leon Rose. Perry was an executive in Detroit when Wesley was managing former Pistons star Richard Hamilton.
  • Bondy confirms that Tom Thibodeau, a former client of Rose’s Creative Artists Agency, is expected to be considered for the head coaching job.

Knicks Notes: Wesley, Calipari, Sanon, Harkless, Rose

William Wesley is not expected to join the Knicks front office in any formal capacity, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports. Known around NBA circles as “Worldwide Wes,” Wesley is a business partner of player agent Leon Rose, who is expected to be named the team’s head of basketball operations. It’s believed the Knicks would offer a position to Wesley if he wanted a front-office role, but his other business ventures make a formal title unlikely, Charania adds.

We have more on the Knicks:

  • Former Kentucky players Kevin Knox and Julius Randle doubt that their former college coach, John Calipari, would want to return to the NBA to coach the team, Peter Botte of the New York Post relays. “The fans love him there, he’s got the basketball program on lock there,” Knox said. “I don’t think he would leave that opportunity to keep helping kids get to the NBA. That’s something he really loves to do. I think when he said he wasn’t going to do it, I think he was sold on that. I think he really doesn’t want to leave.”
  • It’s doubtful Ukrainian guard Issuf Sanon will ever play for the Knicks, Marc Berman of the New York Post reports. Sanon was thrown into the three-team trade that sent Marcus Morris to the Clippers. New York acquired Sanon from Washington, which made him a draft-and-stash second-round pick in 2018. It’s possible he could join the Knicks’ summer league team in Las Vegas, Berman adds.
  • Forward Maurice Harkless, who was also acquired from the Clippers in the same trade, is thrilled to join the organization, Berman writes in a separate story. Harkless has an expiring $11MM contract and could be bought out but he has an affinity for the Knicks. “It’s a dream come true,’’ he said. “I was a Knicks fan growing up. I loved watching the Knicks on TV, I loved coming to the Garden for games when I could. And I actually played at the Garden in college, too, so it’s like I’ve come full circle now.’’
  • Rose’s connections around the league could make him the right fit to run the Knicks, NBA executives told Ian Begley of SNY.tv.

Knicks Refute Brand Consultant’s Claim Miller Will Be Fired

The Knicks have issued a statement refuting an assertion by brand consultant and CEO of Translation Steve Stoute that interim coach Mike Miller will not be retained after the season (Twitter link). Stoute stirred up a controversy on ESPN’s “First Take” when he indicated Miller’s future had already been determined, New York Daily News’ Stefan Bondy relays.

“There had to be a change in [firing team president Steve Mills]. That change will bring a new coach and new coaches that are going to help develop these younger players,” Stoute said in the TV interview. “And they got some young players — you see RJ Barrett, Mitch Robinson. They got something to work with. And getting a coach in there and ultimately getting a coach and a coaching staff that’s going to help develop a team.”

The Knicks replaced Mills last week with longtime agent Leon Rose. The Knicks’ statement suggested that Rose – whose hiring hasn’t yet been officially announced -will decide who coaches the team next season.

“While Steve Stoute is a valued contributor to the Knicks’ marketing and branding efforts, he does not speak on behalf of New York Knicks personnel and basketball operations. Any decisions regarding the operations of the team will be made by the new President of the New York Knicks.”

The team’s statement also included a clarification by Stoute, who said in part he “inadvertently insinuated about Knicks personnel.”

While it’s logical to conclude Miller’s chances of remaining the coach are diminished with the firing of Mills, the Knicks have once again been thrust into a PR mess while putting Miller in an awkward position.

Stoute is well-connected within the organization and is a close friend with Rose’s confidant William Wesley, who is expected to have a role within the franchise, Bondy notes.

However, Stoute shouldn’t be passing himself off as a basketball expert, Frank Isola of The Athletic tweets. Rose’s top priority should be to define roles throughout the organization while the coach should be the public voice of the team, Isola adds.

Knicks Plan To Hire Leon Rose As Head Of Basketball Operations

The Knicks and CAA player agent Leon Rose are nearing a deal that would make him the team’s new head of basketball operations, league sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reported with Ramona Shelburne that Rose had become a top target for the Knicks, confirms that the team plans to hire the veteran agent as its next president (Twitter links). Ian Begley of SNY.tv first reported (via Twitter) that the Knicks had interest in Rose.

As Wojnarowski details (via Twitter), Rose has been one of the NBA’s top agents for years and has a star-studded list of clients that includes Joel Embiid, Chris Paul, Devin Booker, and Karl-Anthony Towns. The Knicks have plenty of experience dealing with Rose, as he also represents Carmelo Anthony.

Rose is expected to assume control of a front office that was previously run by Steve Mills, who was dismissed from his position as president of basketball operations earlier this week.

General manager Scott Perry took over as the top man in New York’s front office on an interim basis following Mills’ ouster, and he appears to be running the show for today’s trade deadline. He and the Knicks have a mutual option for 2020/21, meaning both sides would have to pick up that option for Perry to remain with the team, so we’ll see how that situation plays out. Newsday’s Steve Popper (Twitter link) hears that Perry is not expected to stay on under the new regime.

William Wesley, better known as “World Wide Wes,” is a strong candidate to join the Knicks’ front office under Rose, a source tells Begley (Twitter link). Wes, who is well-connected with players around the NBA, is a CAA consultant and has a strong relationship with Rose, according to Begley.

After firing Mills, the Knicks were immediately linked to Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri, who has long been considered New York’s dream candidate. However, given how quickly New York moved forward on its front office search, it seems as if Ujiri wasn’t a serious option, despite rumblings that he might have interest in the job.

Begley had reported this morning (via Twitter) that there was “serious pessimism” surrounding the Knicks’ pursuit of Ujiri, in part due to the compensation that would have been required to get him out of his Raptors contract. With the Knicks moving in another direction, fans in Toronto can rest easy.

Before deciding on Rose, the Knicks were said to be considering a handful of other player agents as they look to emulate a model that has succeeded for the Warriors and Lakers, who hired former agents Bob Myers and Rob Pelinka, respectively.

Austin Brown and Roger Montgomery were among the agents reportedly receiving consideration from the Knicks, along with B.J. Armstrong, as Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News reported this morning (via Twitter).

Once Rose is officially hired by the Knicks, one of his first tasks this spring will be making a decision on the team’s head coach. Mike Miller has held that position on an interim basis since replacing David Fizdale earlier in the season.