Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Let's start here with the Knicks: because of the team's poor record and the impromptu press conference given by president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry on Sunday, there will be speculation about the job security of David Fizdale and the Knicks' execs.
As SNY reported Sunday, there is no indication that any executive or coach is getting fired in the next few days. But an in-season firing shouldn't be ruled out if the losing and non-competitive stretches continue, people familiar with the matter say.
A factor to consider in all of this are the contracts of Mills, Perry and Fizdale.
All have multiple years left on their deals. Mills, per a source, has a mutual option in one of his years. So both Mills and the Knicks would have to agree to exercise the option. That arrangement is similar to what Phil Jackson -- who signed a five-year deal for $60 million in March 2014 and was fired in June 2017 -- had as president.
We say all that to point out that Dolan would have to eat guaranteed money owed to Mills, Fizdale or Perry if he fired them during the season or after the season. He's done that with several execs and coaches in the past -- Jackson and Jeff Hornacek being the most recent examples. But is he willing to do that again?
If so, who would come in to replace the execs or Fizdale?
There was speculation among executives at the Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden last week that the Knicks would eventually make a run at Toronto president Masai Ujiri, SNY sources confirm.
Now, it's worth noting here that all 29 teams would be interested in Ujiri if he were available and those teams had team president openings. The Athletic, which first reported discussions among execs about the Knicks and Ujiri, says Dolan is already targeting Ujiri as a replacement for Mills.
The Knicks targeted Ujiri as a potential replacement for Jackson in the summer of 2017 before elevating Mills to team president.
Dolan has long respected Ujiri. There's history between the exec and owner: Ujiri led Denver as its GM in the Knicks-Nuggets Carmelo Anthony trade and the Knicks-Raptors Andrea Bargnani trade.
But the talk among executives at the Champions Classic last week was based on the assumption that Dolan removes Mills, Perry and Fizdale. It's not clear that he is ready to do that -- or has decided to do so at the end of the season.
Mills said on Sunday that Dolan, who is clearly frustrated by the team's slow start, still supports the executives' vision.
"Jim still believes in the plan we put together. But he's passionate as we are about this. He would want us to have better results on the floor as well," Mills said. "But I think Jim is a fan and believes in what we're doing. But he has the same kind of expectations that we have. 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."