Sources: Knicks' Dolan Plotting Run At Raptors' Masai Ujiri
The Knicks are off to a 2-8 start this season, and Owner James Dolan is "plotting to take another run" at Raptors President of Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri, according to sources cited by Frank Isola of THE ATHLETIC. It would "take Phil Jackson-type money to lure Ujiri" to N.Y., but "spending the big bucks is never an issue for Dolan." The "issue is always hiring the right person," but in Ujiri, the Knicks would be "bringing in an executive who has built a championship team." Ujiri is under contract with the Raptors through the '21 NBA season, and MLSE "will do anything and everything to keep him." As of last week, the "plan was for Dolan to give" current Knicks President Steve Mills, GM Scott Perry and coach David Fizdale the "rest of the season to figure things out." But things "change quickly in Dolan's world" (THEATHLETIC.com, 11/11). ESPN.com's Wojnarowski & Andrews cited sources as saying that Mills had "started to lay the groundwork" for firing Fizdale even before Sunday night's "startling news conference." Mills is "selling" Dolan on a "roster constructed to be highly competitive." But Mills has "presided over the arrivals and departures of five Knicks coaches." His "overall record as team president is 165-337, including 48-126 since taking the job over" from Jackson in '17 (ESPN.com, 11/11).
ROOT OF THE PROBLEM: In N.Y., Stefan Bondy writes for more than 15 years, Mills has "assumed a top executive role at Madison Square Garden, lording over one of the most dysfunctional and unfathomable situations in sports." Yet Mills has "survived in the shadows, distancing himself from one bad maneuver after another." Fizdale has "done a poor job" as Knicks coach, but he "isn't the root of the problem." There are "precisely zero other NBA teams that would hire Mills" to be their president of basketball operations (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/12). ESPN's Michael Wilbon said he does not "think Fizdale is the primary problem." ESPN's Tony Kornheiser: "Of course not" ("PTI," ESPN, 11/11). ESPN's Pablo Torre said Fizdale is not the "problem," and "I'm not even sure that Scott Perry or Steve Mills are the problem." Torre: "The problem is, of course, James Dolan. He is the disease, all of these are symptoms" ("High Noon," ESPN2, 11/11). ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski noted history has shown that Dolan has had his "favorites, and clearly Steve Mills is one of his favorites" ("Golic & Wingo," ESPNews, 11/12).
SAME OLD KNICKS: In N.Y., Greg Joyce writes if the Knicks "do not turn it around in the next 10 games, Dolan may face a decision to either blame the person who constructed the roster (Mills) or the coach for not getting enough out of the talent" (N.Y. POST, 11/12). The POST's Marc Berman writes it "took just 10 games for the Knicks to assume their familiar role of a public mess" (N.Y. POST, 11/12). ESPN Radio's Jason Fitz said any "quality coach that's offered the Knicks job will actually laugh in Steve Mills' face." ESPN's Wojnarowski added, "You need to be able to sell winning or sell hope, and you look around the NBA and you can look at the places where you can sell either of them. And right now, if you're the Knicks, you certainly don't have winning, and selling hope is really difficult for where they are right now" ("Golic & Wingo," ESPNews, 11/12).