During his first interview as an Indiana Pacer, former Knick Kyle O'Quinn took a shot at New York saying he "wanted to be a part of something bigger than next year's draft." That basically translates to O'Quinn believing the Knicks will tank this season.
But Knicks president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry didn't rebuttle O'Quinn's comments. Instead, they diverted when asked what to make of them.
"Kyle is Kyle," Mills told The Post's Marc Berman. "He's obviously -- it felt like it didn't come out the way he wanted it to come out, knowing Kyle. Kyle is talking, but I still love Kyle and have a lot of respect for him."
Perry gave O'Quinn his first NBA shot after drafting him with the Magic 49th overall back in 2012. That's why he wants nothing but success for the big man.
"I drafted the young man -- I wish him nothing but the best," Perry said. "I hope it works out for him."
Despite looking for a long-term deal, O'Quinn eventually signed a one-year, $4.5 million deal with the Pacers for next season. The motive was clearly to get away from the Knicks, and join a team that had a shot at contending. O'Quinn said he "owed it to myself."
The reason Perry and Mills didn't go back at O'Quinn is because there are first professional, but more importantly, they realize where their team is at on the contention spectrum. The Knicks will be without their star in Kristaps Porzingis for what could be the entire 2018-19 season, and though promise has been seen from this young group, contending for a playoff spot is out of the picture.
Competing and going 100 percent was the mantra last season, and it hasn't changed.
"We got to go through training camp, see how this team comes together before we have any idea what this team can do possibly from wins and losses," Perry said. "We want to have a mindset in the locker room and our coaching staff [that] we want to compete every night. Let's watch it play out. It's easy for people to write things off. We still have to go out and play games. Let's see how quickly the team comes together. If we compete, we'll be in position to win some games."
Mills is on the same page as Perry, and added that the addition of new head coach David Fizdale should lay a good foundation for the team moving forward.
"Our goals have been consistent," Mills said. "We want to see our guys get better, want fans to have a team that has guys who will compete and try to win games every night. We're going to defend. With David [Fizdale] on board, our team will play with pace. We're going to add athleticism to this group and keep moving with our young guys. Those are the goals That's how we'll judge how we're doing, how David is doing, how our players are doing."
So, O'Quinn may be calling out his former team's status in the league, but Mills and Perry are perfectly fine with how their system will work in the coming years. Trust the process.