The New York Knicks have a reputation. You know this, I know this, and apparently, the team’s relatively new front office knows this. The thing is us average Joes sit here and laugh when the Knicks do something extremely Knicks, whereas those in charge of the organization are determined to change the narrative surrounding the franchise.
Earlier this week, team president Steve Mills and head coach David Fizdale spoke about the culture and the general narrative surrounding the Knicks. The message was simple: We hear what people say about New York, we know it’s not always positive, and we want to change this in a smart, pragmatic way.
That second thing is especially un-Knicks — this is the team that, in 2013, moved a first round pick for Andrea Bargnani, after all. Manhattan’s basketball team is awfully similar to some of the stars that have worn pinstripes for The Bronx’s baseball team: They swing for the fences, and if they don’t hit a home run, they’re striking out. The difference, of course, is that while Aaron Judge or Giancarlo Stanton might hit 50+ home runs in a year, the Knicks have been great at repeatedly swinging at pitches that are 10 inches outside of the strike zone.
This message from Mills isn’t just lip service, as evidenced by how Mills addressed the assembled media on Thursday. A report surfaced one day prior that Jimmy Butler would like to get traded to the Knicks, but despite this, Mills made it clear that he does not want to deviate from the plan.
In fact, Mills, Fizdale, and general manager Scott Perry went as far as to rebuke shortcuts, making it clear that those do not exist in their vision for the organization.
While they wouldn’t straight up say “we think past Knicks brain trusts made a bunch of bad decisions,” their message could not be any more clear. To steal a phrase from one of their division rivals, the Knicks trust the process, ostensibly believing that they can appeal to big-name players to join a young core headlined by Kristaps Porzingis and Kevin Knox.
In particular, Knox’s perception of the Knicks has changed ever since joining the organization earlier this year. Knox was selected ninth overall in the 2018 NBA Draft, heading to a franchise he admitted to Dime he never followed all that closely.
“I really didn’t watch the Knicks,” said Knox, who spoke to Dime over the phone while he was at an event for Subway on Thursday. “I watched Carmelo because I was a huge Carmelo [Anthony] fan, last year I liked to watch [Kristaps] Porzingis, those are the kind of guys I liked to watch.
“The last few years, the Knicks haven’t really been good, so we’re trying to hope this new organization, this new management team, we’re trying to make this organization better again,” Knox continued.
Knox isn’t necessarily at the center of this plan, he’s more one of the pillars that is expected to hold the team up, especially while Porzingis is on the sideline as he recovers from a torn ACL. In the past, the news of Butler becoming available and having interest in the Knicks could have meant Knox’s days in the Big Apple were numbered. Instead, it sounds like New York won’t even pick up the phone and talk to the Timberwolves about any of their young core, because getting Butler would mean deviating from the timeline that they’ve set for themselves.
Anything can happen — this is the Knicks, after all. For now, though, the front office has a plan, one of the team’s brightest young players is ready to stick to it, and most importantly, New York seems like it has no interest to deviating off track.