The Knick of Time Show is proud to have fuboTV join the family as a sponsor. I personally have been using fuboTV for several months now and love it. Aside from being able to watch all the Knick games, I am also able to watch all the NFL and College football games plus my favorite TV shows. Please click on this link to get a free 7-Day Trial
I figured that the middle of Leon Rose’s 3rd season was a good time to review the job he’s done. What many fans don’t realize is that the average tenure of an NBA team president is about 2.5 years. Many folks in the media and fans are disappointed with the results thus far. Many were expecting Rose to bring stars to New York while others focus on a few high-profile decisions: the drafting Obi Toppin over Tyrese Haliburton, the Julius Randle extension, and the free agent signings of Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier.
These are valid criteria for evaluating the job he has done, but we also need to be realistic. First and foremost, no front office hits on every decision they make, so that can’t be the expectation. What they can’t do is make a major mistake that they can’t recover from. The other thing that makes grading the job hard is that Leon’s success is not tied to hitting on a top 3 lottery pick or signing superstar free agents. His is reliant on the development of trade assets which takes more time.
So, to fully understand the job he has done I realized it was going to take 2 articles to do a good job. In Part 1 we review the hirings he has made. In Part 2 we will review the impact these hirings have had on the decisions made through his 2.5 seasons.
The Hiring of an Agent
When Leon was hired, I was upset. I said to myself, there goes James Dolan hiring his 3rd straight team president with no experience. He saw that the Warriors and the Lakers had success with GMs that were former agents and just followed the trend to look smart.
I argued that it was the wrong decision and if there was a time to bring in an agent to run the organization, it should have been in 2017 after Phil Jackson was fired. That way Leon Rose would have had a 2-year runway before the last great free agent market, the summer of 2019.
Having Rose takeover in March of 2020 made no sense. The window to build a team through free agency had closed as the incentive of a super-max contract was too much for stars approaching free agency to pass up.
But if you had done some research, you would have noticed that there is a difference between the other former agents turned front office executives and Leon Rose. Bob Myers and Rob Pelinka were strictly player agents while Leon Rose was much more. Aside from being the most successful agent in the game, he also built the most powerful agency in basketball, Creative Artists Agency (CAA). So, if James Dolan brought in Leon Rose not to just attract stars, but to also build a 1st class organization, then the hire makes sense. With that said let’s review the impact Leon has done since becoming team president.
Leon Rose has actually done what the fans have been begging for but none of his predecessors had the guts to do, hire the best minds in the game. That has been the major difference between Leon and the two prior team presidents that had no prior experience: Phil Jackson and Steve Mills.
While the Knicks can’t operate like the Yankees or Mets, leveraging their financial advantage to buy the best players because of the salary cap. They can outbid everyone for the talent off the court, coaches and front office staff. It’s a lot easier to make good decisions if you surround yourself with talented people.
- EVP, Senior Basketball Advisor: William Wesley
- VP, Basketball & Strategic Planning: Brock Aller
- Assistant GM – College Scouting: Walt Perrin
- Assistant GM – Pro Scouting: Frank Zanin
- Consultant: Gersson Rosas
- Scout: Alex Kline
The 6 folks listed above are considered to be some of the best at what they do. William Wesley, aka ‘Worldwide Wes’ brings a unique skill to the Knicks’ front office as he is one of the most connected people in basketball. Brock Aller is the foremost expert on the salary cap, knows more than most folks at the NBA league office and finally brings the element of money-ball to the Knicks. Walt Perrin is considered one of the premier scouts in the game. Frank Zanin worked under Sam Presti in Oklahoma City. Gersson Rosas is a former GM that is one of smartest analytical minds in the game. Alex Kline is considered one of the rising stars among basketball talent evaluators.
It seemed like the prior team presidents were either threatened by having other highly regarded folks in the front office or didn’t have the credibility and relationships necessary to convince them to come to New York.
- Head Coach: Tom Thibodeau
- Associate Head Coach: Johnnie Bryant
While a lot of folks including myself were not excited about the Tom Thibodeau hiring, it doesn’t mean he isn’t a very good coach. He is well respected around the league and is considered to be the hardest working coach. Every waking moment of his life is dedicated to the game of basketball. He also grew up a Knick fan and being the team’s head coach has always been his dream job. When he was hired, he instantly brought credibility to the team because this job was not going to be too big for him.
While many think Thibodeau is not the long-term answer at head coach, few can argue that he is not the ideal one to establish a good culture. All the young players he is developing are learning to be hard working gym rats that play defense. All the players on the team say they are well prepared for every game. While Thibodeau has the rep for preferring to play vets, 5 players with less than 3 years of experience are in the rotation.
Then there is the man most Knick fans want to replace Thibodeau, Johnnie Bryant. He is considered one of the best coaches for developing guards in the game. Damian Lillard and Donovan Mitchell swear by him. You can he his impact on Immanuel Quickley’s development as his game has grown immensely since entering the NBA, which was on display in San Antonio. His handles, pull-up game, finishing around the rim have improved which compliments his elite 3-point shooting skill. You just don’t see 3&D players develop into well rounded players like IQ has.
Grading Leon: Part 2
In Part 2 we will grade every trade and draft pick made and conclude if the Knicks are the right track or need a change in leadership.