Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter |
A day after their impromptu press conference earlier this season, Knicks president Steve Mills and others with management had a conversation with owner James Dolan.
The Knicks were 2-8 at the time, and management came away from that conversation thinking that their jobs would be safe if the Knicks showed progress. New York has gone 2-12 since that conversation, showing minimal progress in that span.
That's not a good sign for Mills.
Several members of the organization said this week that they fully expect Mills will be replaced as team president at the end of the season -- if not sooner -- unless the club somehow turns things around.
New York, of course, has played well below expectations this season.
After trading Kristaps Porzingis last year for cap space, two future first round picks and Dennis Smith Jr., the Knicks failed to land top free agent targets this summer.
They instead added veterans on short term deals and big man Julius Randle on a three-year contract.
The hope was that New York would be more competitive this season than last year thanks to the added veterans, who would establish a winning environment that would help the younger players.
That hasn't happened, and now the spotlight is on GM Scott Perry and Mills, who has been team president since the 2017 offseason and was GM under ex-president Phil Jackson.
A source said last week that Mills and Perry are under significant pressure following the firing of head coach David Fizdale. If Mills is let go the Knicks will likely turn their attention to Toronto exec Masai Ujiri. Sam Presti also has fans within the organization. If Mills was let go in season, the expectation is that Perry would take over for the remainder of the year.
On head coaching front, we can add that Jason Kidd and Mark Jackson have support within the organization.
The Athletic has reported that Mills will be reassigned or outright fired after the season. But sources say the situation remains fluid given the remote possibility of a turnaround from the Knicks. Mills has multiple years left on his deal, as does Perry. There's also the possibility that MSG decision makers -- including Dolan -- could change their mind on Knicks leadership.
Perry's future with the club is tied to Mills, to a degree, but it's worth pointing out that since Perry came on board in the 2017 offseason, the Knicks have held on to their first-round draft picks (they have all of their future first-round picks and added two in the Porzingis trade), and have a relatively clear salary cap moving forward. Fans who wanted the Knicks to land top free agents last summer won't find solace in that, but it's an accurate description.
With Perry on board, the Knicks have also had solid drafts. The jury is still out on 19-year-old Kevin Knox, but Mitchell Robinson was a strong second-round pick, Allonzo Trier was undrafted and RJ Barrett, the No. 3 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, is viewed as a strong prospect.
Because of the Knicks' market, their draft picks and salary cap flexibility created since Perry joined Mills, the Knicks are seen as an attractive destination for executives.