To our weekly readers, I know the fan base has mixed feelings about the Leon Rose hire. But the reality is that it’s a done deal and there’s nothing we can do about it. We just need to hope that Mr. Dolan finally got it right. So I wanted to use this week’s article to express to Mr. Rose what we as Knick fans would like from him. Below is the letter I will be sending him.
Congratulations on the new job, as a person that is lucky enough to speak on behalf of a small segment of the fan base, I just wanted to welcome you and let you know we are rooting for you. We are the best fan base in the NBA. Not many franchises could have endured nearly 20 seasons of poor results without losing most of their fans. That by itself is a testament to the love and passion we have for our team.
We are trusting you to steer this organization in the right direction and feel you are inheriting a great situation. I don’t need to tell you about the breadth of young talent on the roster that is not common for a Knick team. I also don’t need to tell you about the books which are clean and do not have a single bad contract. This is also something that has has been an anomaly the past 20 seasons. Then there is the third oddity, drafts picks, lots of them, seven 1st round picks in the next 4 years, of which, one will be a lottery pick in this year’s draft. So there is nothing holding you back from turning this team into a consistent winner.
What we are asking from you is to do something that hasn’t been done in 20 seasons. That is to be patient, don’t try to impress us by hiring big names and please ignore the media. While it sounds like an easy ask and something a reasonable and smart person like yourself would do, for whatever reason it hasn’t happened.
While you will be tempted and even encouraged by Mr. Dolan to shake things up, please be wise in who you hire. Your knowledge of the league should help you find some bright young minds that can help compliment your strengths. The great thing about working for the Knicks is that they have unlimited resources. There is no reason why you can’t have the best scouting and analytics departments in the NBA. Like we mentioned, we don’t care about big names, we just want consistently sound decision making.
As you know, your friend and soon to be co-worker Steve Stoute spoke to the media about hiring a new coach. Stoute was out of line commenting about decisions that are your responsibility. I just want you to know that the fans are very content with Mike Miller and would like him to stay on. The reality is that there isn’t a superstar candidate available in the market, so we would prefer to keep the very good coach we have. Again we crave consistency and sound decision making. We have seen enough big name coaches come in here and fail miserably. We are done looking for saviors.
Coach Miller has credentials we value, he was the coach of the year in the G-League, specializes in development, which is what the team needs and has the right demeanor for this market. The team needs a hard working coach they respect that is not looking to be in the limelight. There are a lot of distractions in New York, players need a coach that will keep them focused and hold them accountable.
Miller is a learner and that is why Phil Jackson hired him. Miller took it upon himself to learn the triangle because he was curious and is a basketball purist. The Westchester Knicks ran the offense flawlessly, many people have said that the Westchester offensive system was better the big club’s. Also, the Knicks defense has improved under Miller. He has held players accountable and the change in effort has been noticeable.
From a culture perspective, it’s a great thing that we have consistency in our coaching philosophy. Being able to say that all the players between both clubs are being developed under the same philosophy and sound offensive system is great. It shows that the Knicks have a culture of development and promote from within.
If you feel pressure to make a change, just look back at the history of the Knicks, aside from Pat Riley, the two other great coaches were internal hires. The legendary Red Holzman was a scout for the team. He got the job because he knew the players well since he was the one that scouted them in college. The other is Jeff Van Gundy, who ironically has been been rumored to be a candidate. He was an assistant coach under Pat Riley and then Don Nelson. We has an interim head coach just like Miller before he got the job. Van Gundy was loved by the players because he was completely dedicated to making them better. Again, did not have name cache, but was the right coach for the job.
When it comes to players, I just want you to know that we love the young guys on the team and trust that they will develop into very good players if given the opportunity. We are particularly enamored with R.J. and Mitch, Frank is a close third. I suggest you build around them as they have star potential and are built for New York.
As it pertains to acquiring players via trade or free agency, please focus on young two-way players. Most of the players that haven’t worked out are name players that are past their prime or younger promising that don’t play defense or pass the ball. It’s no coincidence that the best teams in the NBA play great defense. The last two Knick teams to make it to the Finals prioritized defense. But for some reason, defense has been an afterthought for most of the last 20 seasons.
I know you will feel pressure to make a splashy move, especially for one of your former clients. I just ask that you do not bend to the internal or external pressure and just take your time. We know a great opportunity will present itself if you actively wait for it. The fans are tired of moves that are perceived to be quick fixes. What I am saying is that we don’t want is anymore desperate moves. We rather wait than deal with another bad trade that sets the team back another couple of seasons
The last request we have is one that we feel you are the most qualified to execute. That is managing James Dolan. As you know, he is well intentioned, but very impatient and sensitive. We need you to use your powers of persuasion to keep him at bay. You will be the first president of basketball operations that he might respect or be scared of enough to back off. I am sure he would not want to do bad by you since the repercussions extend beyond the walls of Madison Square Garden. As long as you didn’t make him any promises that you can’t keep, like Steve Mills, you should be fine. I am sure managing Mr. Dolan won’t be an issue for such a powerful and respected person in the NBA like yourself.
So in closing Leon, we wish you the best and hope you consider our advice. Everything is in place to finish the rebuild and lead the franchise back to winning seasons. The Knicks are one of the few destination teams in the NBA. We need substance not style, the brand is strong, just need to develop the product on the court. This franchise has so many built-in advantages, all that is missing is real leadership.
The Knick fans
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