New York Liberty: Rebecca Allen opts out of 2020 season

The Australian-born Allen, the longest-tenured member of the New York Liberty, has chosen not to take part in the upcoming WNBA season.

The New York Liberty will be missing another veteran if and when they take the court for the 2020 WNBA season.

Guard/forward Rebecca Allen announced on Thursday that she will not partake in the league’s potential 22-game season, set to held in a “bubble” setting at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. The WNBA previously announced that it is aiming for a July 24 start to its 24th season of play.

“This has absolutely been one of the toughest decisions, but after much thought and discussions, I have decided to opt out of the 2020 season in Florida,” Allen said in a team statement. “The uncertainty of the COVID-19 crisis and the logistical health risks related to travel have led me to conclude that it’s best if I not play in the WNBA this year.”

Thursday marked the deadline for WNBA players to inform their squads about their potential participation in the Bradenton bubble. Other opt-outs include defending rebound champion Jonquel Jones of the Connecticut Sun and LaToya Sanders of the defending champion Washington Mystics. Others, including Renee Montgomery and Tiffany Hayes of the Atlanta Dream, have opted to take the year off to focus on social advocacy.

“I would like to thank the Liberty for their support and understanding,” Allen added. “I’ll certainly miss all my teammates, staff and fans this year. I’ll be cheering loud from Australia and I look forward to getting back on the court in 2021.”

New Liberty head coach Walt Hopkins had been looking forward to working with Allen, having constantly sung her praises since taking the job in January.

“She’s got a tremendous skill set and she’s got a rare mix of characteristics in that she’s about 6’2 and she’s really long and she’s deceptively athletic to go with her ability to put the ball on the floor and get fouled and shoot the three at such a high level,” Hopkins said earlier this spring. “That’s really the type of player we absolutely need for this system to work and we’ve got one built-in already. On top of that, she’s a phenomenal person.”

Allen, 27, was set to be the longest-tenured member of the Liberty, having been with the team since coming on as a free agent in 2015. She developed a reputation as a strong defender off the bench, as her wingspan earned her the nickname “Spida” in her native Australia. Allen enjoyed a bit of a breakout season in 2019, posting career-best averages in points (7.2) and minutes (17.2). She also finished seventh in the WNBA in three-point percentage (42.6 percent). Last August, Allen set a Liberty record with 20 points in the second quarter in a home tilt against Minnesota. Such a tally was two points behind the league’s best single-period scoring output (set by Diana Taurasi of Phoenix in 2006).

This offseason, Allen earned MVP honors in Poland’s Basket Liga Kobiet, partaking in Arka Gdynia’s perfect season prior to the league’s coronavirus-induced shutdown in March. Allen also made a name for herself in Australia’s national basketball endeavors. Part of the women’s team known as the “Opals”, Allen averaged 14 points in a trio of Olympic qualifiers. The Opals punched their ticket with wins over Chinese Taipei and India. Additionally, Allen was named to All-Star Five of the 2019 FIBA Women’s Asia Cup in Bangalore. She appeared alongside Liberty teammate Han Xu and led the Opals with 20 points in their bronze medal game victory over South Korea.

Allen is one of four New Yorkers sitting out the 2020 season. Fellow international representatives Han and Marine Johannes announced their intentions to stay in their respective homelands of China and France in May, while Liberty newcomer and Allen’s Opals teammate Stephanie Talbot chose to likewise remain in Australia.

With Allen’s temporary defection, Amanda Zahui B is slated to be the longest-tenured New Yorker on the hardwood, having joined the team in a 2016 trade with the Tulsa Shock. Zahui B penned an emotional tribute to her close friend Allen on Twitter.

She was far from the only New Yorker to publicly support Allen’s decision.

“Rebecca is a consummate professional and a key factor to the team’s new style of play,” Liberty general manager Jonathan Kolb said. “We understand that these decisions are never easy and, while she will certainly be missed this season, we fully support her decision to do what is best for her and her family.”

The Liberty were set to play their first full-time season at Barclays Center in Brooklyn prior to the WNBA’s postponement of the 2020 season. Their current roster features six rookie, headlined by top overall WNBA Draft pick Sabrina Ionescu from Oregon.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Knicks claim guard Jared Harper, waive Kadeem Allen

New York Knicks, Jared Harper

After the slew of front office moves that have been announced over the past few months, the New York Knicks switched it up on Thursday with some roster news, per Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Jared Harper is a guard who went undrafted last year. He was signed to a two-way contract by the Phoenix Suns and spent most of this season playing for their G-League affiliate, the Northern Arizona Suns.

Harper may only stand at 5’10” and 175 lbs, but that hasn’t stopped him from putting up great numbers. In 33 G-League games, all of them starts, he averaged about 21 points, 6 assists, 3 rebounds and 1 steal per game while shooting over 41 percent from the field and 36 percent from three. Harper was called up but only played in three games for Phoenix before the league was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Because of the NBA suspension and G-League season shutdown from the coronavirus, Harper was waived by the Suns back in March, but teams weren’t able to claim him until the league’s transaction window opened on June 23.

In college, Harper had a very productive three-year run at Auburn with career averages of 13.5 points, 4.8 assists, and 1.2 steals. He shot 38.4 percent from the field and 35.9 percent from three. Harper was named Second Team All-SEC twice and lead Auburn to a Final Four appearance in 2019, where he was named the NCAA Tournament Midwest Regional Most Outstanding Player for his performance. Harper also became the third player in Auburn history to score at least 1,000 points and 500 assists.

In order to make room for Harper, the Knicks needed to get rid of one of their two-way contracts, so they released guard Kadeem Allen who had been with New York since 2018. Harper now replaces Allen alongside forward Kenny Wooten as the Knicks two players on two-way contracts. In 29 games for the Knicks over the past 2 seasons, Allen averaged 8.2 points, 3.3 assists, and 2.1 rebounds, but spent most of his time in the G-League with the Westchester Knicks.

This marks the first roster move made under new Knicks president Leon Rose. After spending the last few months piecing together what his front office will look like, Rose took a break from that and turned his attention to the roster. Over the course of the next few months, Rose and his team will be deciding on a new head coach from their growing list of candidates and preparing themselves for both the draft and free agency.

New York Giants: 2020 A Prove-It Year For TE Evan Engram

New York Giants, Giants, Evan Engram

The New York Giants‘ offense is loaded with young, explosive talent. This year, those young players will be taught by a new coaching staff. Head coach Joe Judge replaced Pat Shurmur, an offensive-minded coach that had little success in two years with the New York Giants. Now the Giants will implement the Air Coryell offense with their new coordinator, Jason Garrett.

Jason Garrett will combine his scheme with a stable of talented playmakers in 2020. One player to keep a keen eye on in particular is tight end Evan Engram. Evan Engram is entering a prove-it year in 2020 and could be one of the NFL’s breakout players if all goes well.

Staying Healthy

The biggest challenge for Evan Engram throughout his three-year NFL career so far has been staying healthy. Evan has already missed 14 games in three years. When Engram is healthy, he is a versatile playmaker in the Giants’ offense. Unfortunately, Giants fans have yet to see Engram reach his full potential as he has struggled to stay on the field more and more year after year.

Why Evan Engram Could Break Out In 2020

Every year, Giants fans prepare and excite themselves for Evan Engram’s breakout season. But it just has not happened yet. The reason why, as previously mentioned, is the injury history. But in 2020, there are plenty of reasons to believe that Evan Engram will finally break out.

There is a ton of untapped potential stored within Evan Engram’s skillset. At 6 feet 3 inches, 240 pounds, with a lightning-fast 4.42 forty-yard dash time, Evan Engram is one of the most athletic and dynamic tight ends in the NFL. Not to mention the fact that Evan is only 25 years-old.

As a rookie in 2017, Giants fans saw the most of Evan Engram. That season, Engram played in 15 games and totaled 722 yards and 6 touchdowns as the Giants’ primary receiving option (receiving 115 targets). Engram’s second season saw regression caused by injuries. Under new head coach Pat Shurmur, Evan totaled 577 yards and 3 touchdowns in 11 games.

Evan Engram’s 2019 season was off to a blazing hot start before being derailed by injuries. Through the first five weeks of the 2019 NFL season, Evan Engram was averaging 9.6 targets per game, 74.6 yards per game, and totaled 2 touchdown receptions. After those first five weeks, Engram only played in three more games that season and was clearly not at full health when he was on the field.

Evan Engram saw an increased role in the beginning of the 2019 season and he rose to the occasion. He was an efficient, and improved player prior to suffering his injury. Now the Giants have a new offensive coordinator and new offensive scheme to implement in 2020. Luckily for Evan Engram, Jason Garrett loves to utilize the tight end position end helped Jason Witten have one of the best careers ever by a tight end during his time in Dallas. If Evan Engram stays healthy in 2020, it will be his breakout season.

What If Evan Engram Does Not Prove Himself In 2020?

Regardless of whether or not Engram breaks out in 2020, the Giants still need to pick up Evan Engram’s fifth-year option. It is the financially responsible thing to do. Engram is the best tight end on the Giants’ roster and the team cannot afford to just let him walk in free agency next offseason. He has proven that he has enough talent to garner a lucrative contract if he does hit free agency. The Giants’ best course of action will be to pick up Engram’s fifth-year option and keep him on an affordable salary in 2021, even if he does break out this season.

If Engram stays healthy and has an impressive 2020 season, fans will then question whether or not he is a one-year wonder. Consistency is key in the NFL and Evan has not been consistently healthy. The Giants cannot commit to Engram long-term until he proves he can play a 16 game season. Picking up his fifth-year option next offseason is a no-brainer, but what the Giants should do with Engram after that will be determined down the road.

New York Giants: Darius Slayton shows off route running on Instagram (WATCH)

New York Giants, Darius Slayton

The New York Giants are entering the 2020 season with an unpredictable wide receiver corps. Currently, the unit consists of Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate, Darius Slayton, Corey Coleman, and a bevy of undrafted free agents.

Predicting what the production will look like from this group is difficult since Shepard is one concussion away from potentially ending his career, Tate will be 32 years old, and Slayton is coming off his rookie campaign.

However, Slayton had a fantastic first season in the NFL, posting 740 yards and eight touchdowns in 14 games. He played in just 66% of offensive snaps, and expecting an increase in 2020 is predictable. If he can build off his first year numbers, Slayton can quickly become the Giants’ top wideout.

While at Auburn, Darius was known for his straightaway speed and ability to blaze by opposing cornerbacks. Having one move simply doesn’t work in the NFL, though, and he started his rookie minicamp, dropping everything in sight. He quickly left those issues behind, shaking off the jitters and adapting to a more physical style of play. He added several routes to his repertoire, including slants, out, and post routes, which saw smoother transitions into his break.

The Giants retained Tyke Tolbert, their wide receiver coach, who helped Slayton develop last season. This was a fantastic decision considering the excellent work he constructed with the former Auburn standout.

On Thursday, he posted a video on Instagram running an out-route with an inside step. He looks good in his transition into his break, stopping on a dime and accelerating quickly toward the boundary. The speed and change of direction really stand out here.

Improving his fundamentals will be a priority for the young pass-catcher moving forward, but he has all the potential in the world to develop into the Giants’ number one wide receiver.

UFC: Jon Jones is willing to sit out to benefit other fighters

UFC, Jon Jones

UFC light heavyweight champion, and the GOAT in many pundits’ eyes is willing to walk away from the sport for a considerable amount of time. Jon Jones is back in the news today after he appeared on Steve-O’s Wild Ride Podcast. Jones was asked about his feelings on the UFC and Jones stated, “I have no interest in fighting for the UFC.” When asked some follow-up questions, Jones talked about being willing to sit out to benefit fighters down the line.

Where does Jones and the UFC stand?

The short answer is not in a good place. After all of his ups and downs, Jones returned in December of 2018. Jones fought four times in fourteen months leading many to believe Jones was back for good. It was the most active we had ever seen Jones in his career. When the pandemic hit, a lot of things changed with Jones and the UFC. By all accounts, Jones and the UFC were on good terms. That is until Jones started asking for a raise to fight UFC heavyweight contender, Francis Ngannou.

When Jones went to the UFC and asked for more money, he was shut down immediately. Jones claims he never asked for a specific dollar amount while Dana White claims that Jones’ demands were astronomical. Following White’s comments, a very public back and forth began between the two men. Jones went as far as to demand a release from the UFC.

Where do we go from here?

Now, we are in this weird spot. Things have seemingly calmed down, and Dana White has sounded more optimistic lately even saying that they would, “Work it out.” However, Jones’ appearances on Steve-O’s podcast would seemingly indicate otherwise. Jones continues to reiterate that he wants no part of the UFC, and he feels that sitting out now will move the needle more in the direction of the fighters.

I really think they will get this worked out eventually. The UFC has had a long history of making deals with fighters that are difficult. However, Daniel Cormier brought up a good point recently when he talked about the fact that Jones being out for a long time made him realize he’s able to live a life outside the UFC. Jon Jones doesn’t need the UFC. He’s made enough money to retire. If he walks away now, many people would label him the greatest to ever do it. It’ll be facinating to watch this continue to play out. I think it’s going to simmer down for a while, but I think Jones could be approached by the UFC after the August title fight between Cormier and Stipe Miocic. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Jon Jones in the UFC, but I’m not sure when he’ll be back.

Keeping Jamal Adams on the Jets: The right move is not making one

New York Jets, Jamal Adams

New York Jets safety Jamal Adams doesn’t have any leverage. That should be the headline every time he says something or somebody posts their trade fantasies about him. No matter what Jamal Adams says, no matter what things he subliminally posts online and regardless of what he’s DM’ing Instagram fan pages, Adams is under team control for the foreseeable future.

Sure he’s been vocal, but in this case, vocal doesn’t force the team into making a transaction. He’s under control for the next two years, and if they want, as Connor Hughes has been saying on his Jets podcast for the Athletic “Can’t Wait,” they can hit him with the franchise tag for 2022 as well as 2023. Right now, this situation rests solely on the hands of Joe Douglas, who, while he helped build that championship team in Philly, has little experience in contract situations – let alone a situation of this magnitude.

Despite that, staying quiet combined with not speaking out against Adams in the press looks like the right move so far. (Maybe Joe Douglas and the Jets brass should run public relations for MLB and the MLBPA?) In fact, any leaks coming out of Jets camp hasn’t even been anti-Jamal. It’s been anti-Gase. Look what Manish Mehta posted this week.

There is no reason to get into a war of words between the team and their most important piece, not named Sam Darnold. (Destroying Gase in the press though? Whatever we can deal with that.) There’s no reason to make this worse, no matter what he says. If Jamal Adams wants to sit out, he’d be fined for missing every game and every practice for the next two years. That in itself should be the deciding factor in getting him to play.

Of course, if you’re going to keep him that long the Jets should eventually pay him because, no matter how many draft picks you could get for Jamal Adams, the likelihood of picking somebody of his caliber is slim. The likelihood of picking somebody half as good as him is still rare.

We’ve all heard about prospects who were considered “can’t miss.” Then it turns out that come game day they hold more value on the bench or practice squad than on the field. Trading Adams and then finding yourself with a bust is a disaster. It’s an even bigger disaster than the one we’re in now. While Adams has been forward about wanting to be traded, at the end of the day, all that matters is winning on the field. It’s worth going through this if it means avoiding the disaster of bringing aboard bust while Adams crushes it for the Cowboys. If that happens, then we’re all in the position of saying “Same old Jets.”

The fact is this. Adams is a difference-maker. He led the league among safeties in the following categories.

QB hits – 13.

Tackle For Loss – 10

Sacks – 6.5

Here is where he ranks around the league among safeties since being drafted:

1st in QB Hits – 23 (Second is Von Bell with 13.)

1st in sacks – 12.0 (2nd is Von Bell with 7.0.)

1st in Tackle for Loss – 28 (2nd is Von Bell with 18.)

On top of all of this look at this breakdown of Adams from PFF:

“After struggling a bit in coverage as a rookie (allowing six touchdowns), he broke up 10 passes and intercepted two more over the past two years while allowing only 44 completions into his coverage during that time. Receivers catching passes against Adams in 2019 gained just 4.5 yards per target, and Adams’ 0.31 yards per coverage snap is in the top fourth of the league at his position.”

Adams was also one of 6 safeties in the NFL with a touchdown in 2019. This, of course, came against the Giants, where he physically took the ball out of Daniel Jones’ hands. The stats tell you he’s good and his ability to make cartoonish plays like that just solidify it.

This wouldn’t be the first time a player was unhappy with their team, and it definitely won’t be the last. Hell, it’s not even the first time in recent memory that an elite athlete in New York held the mantra of “Pay me or trade me.” Don’t forget in 2018 Jacob deGrom said the same thing with the Mets. He wanted his payday after outplaying his rookie contract in the midst of it. In the end, the Mets waited – probably to the chagrin of deGrom – and ended up paying him right before the start of 2019.

Would Adams be happy if the Jets did what the Mets did? Probably not until the day the money is deposited. Does it matter? No, because he’s under control by the team just like deGrom was. The Jets hold all the leverage here. Whether that is fair or not is another debate for another day.

 

New York Yankees: What impact will a short season have on Mike Ford, Clint Frazier, and others?

New York Yankees, Clint Frazier

For the New York Yankees, a shortened season of just 60 games will have several consequences, both good and bad.  The bad is that they won’t be able to have any long stretches of poor play if they are to get to the postseason.  The Yankees are still World Series favorites, but each game during the season will take on more importance.  The greatest impact on players will be those that will sit on the bench with the expanded 30 man roster.

The bench will most likely include Mike Ford, Clint Frazier, Mike Tauchman, catcher Kyle Higashioka, and the “utility” players, Miguel Andujar, and Tyler Wade.  Also on the bench will be club veteran Brett Gardner. After last year’s disaster with so many players going on the IL, these bench players could see significant playing time.  In that thought, you have to consider with no minor leaguer’s available, the bench will be very important.

Mike Ford: Mike burst onto the scene last season.  The seven-year minor league veteran got his big break when he was called up to the majors when Greg Bird was injured. He made his major league debut in April and got his first hit on April 21. He hit his first home run on April 23rd. He ended up playing in 50 games, most near the end of the season.  He proved to be a powerful left-hand bat hitting 12 home runs. That’s an average of a home run in every 4 1/2 games.

Manager Aaron Boone if he chose to could alternate Ford with Voit at first base. Voit could hit against lefties and Ford again right-hand pitchers.

Clint Frazier: Aaron Judge’s back luck with his rib fracture, just could be big for Clint Frazier, one of manager Boone’s only options to serve in the right field.  At present, it is not known if Judge’s rehab will have progressed enough to allow him to play at the start of the season on July 23rd. With such a short season Judge may not play at all.  Frazier, who can go on a tear behind the plate has been questionable in the outfield.  This season could be his season to prove his worth to the New York Yankees.

Kyle Higashioka:  Kyle is in a situation where he has to show that he can be the replacement for Austin Romine that the Yankees hope for. In a short season and if Gary Sanchez can remain healthy, Kyle might only catch in eight to ten games.  However, if Sanchez has injuries as he is inclined to have, Kyle could see himself catching in a half-season of games.  Whatever the case the Yankees will be watching Kyle carefully. Last season he caught in 18 games in relief of Austin Romine.  He batting .214 with 3 homers, but in spring training this year, he led the team in home runs with 3 homers in just 12 games and hit .276.

Andujar and Tauchman:  With Giancarlo Stanton playing in only 18 games last year and already being injured in spring training, Miguel Andujar and Mike Tauchman may see a lot of time in the outfield.  The plus with Andujar is his power behind the plate, and with Mike Tauchman, it’s his left-hand bat in a lineup that is right-hand heavy.  Manager Boone has his choices to rest Stanton or have these two alternate as fill-ins in left field. Andujar will see more playing time as he will also alternate with Stanton as the regular DH.

Aaron Hicks/Brett Gardner:  At the present with Aaron Hicks reportedly ready to play in center field, and with capable Brett Gardner as a backup, the center field is pretty well taken care of for Boone. Hick’s will be returning from Tommy John surgery that he had immediately at the end of the season.  He was supposed to miss the first two months of the season, but with the delayed season, that may not be an issue.

Tyler Wade:  Tyler Wade just may be the wild card this year and may see more playing time than any bench players.  Being the super-utility player, he can fill in at short for Gleyber Torres, who will need rest and for DJ LeMahieu at second.  The plus for Boone is that Wade can also play the outfield.

With injuries inevitable and the coronavirus, the season may well end up with whatever team has the best bench players will be the team that advances to the World Series.  The New York Yankees bench is well suited to be that excellent bench.

Hall of Famer thinks teams like the New York Yankees will have added pressure in short season

New York Yankees, Giancarlo Santon

With the offseason acquisition of ace pitcher Gerrit Cole from the Houston Astros, among others, the New York Yankees were viewed, along with the Los Angeles Dodgers, as the favorites to win the World Series before the pandemic shook the baseball universe and not only delayed the start of the 2020 season, but also cut it from 162 to 60 games.

With the shorter season, there is more space for randomness, luck, and “fluky” outcomes. However, the audience still expects the Yankees to lift the trophy come playoff time. Is that fair? Well, that’s up for debate, but according to a Hall of Fame pitcher, it will definitely add more pressure to a team like the Bombers.

Smoltz, famous for his pitching days with the Atlanta Braves, seems to think that the baseball season in 2020 will be more like a sprint instead of a marathon, like it used to be.

“I think it’s going to be awesome from a standpoint of a lot of things that you never could predict and we’ve never seen,” Smoltz said in a conference call that promoted this week’s American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament, according to NJ.com. “It’s going to be so much different on the strategy and how you manipulate the roster.”

A cold streak can compromise the Yankees’ season

Smoltz believes that the shortened season will open a window of opportunity for teams that aren’t usually playoff contenders. That isn’t very likely to happen in a regular, 162-game schedule, but with precious few games, a hot streak can do wonders for a mediocre team, and a cold spell could doom a team like the New York Yankees, as unlikely as it may be.

“The great teams that were great before this happened are still going to be great, but there’s a lot more pressure on them because in a 60-game schedule,” Smoltz said. “I think that you’ll have 25 percent more teams that can compete that had no idea if they were going to compete for 162 games.”

Randy Miller of NJ.com writes that, per the Elias Sports Bureau, almost one third of clubs that qualified to the playoffs in the Wild Card era (1995 to present) did not hold a postseason spot after 60 games.

“You’re going to see more teams have a chance in a 60-game schedule,” Smoltz stated. “When you have 162 games and you know your roster’s good, the first two months don’t bother whether you’re 10 games down or eight games down. You know you’re better over 162 games.

“Now the pressure of trying to get in position to be in the playoffs is going to be greater. I think it’s really got a chance to be unique.”

Vitali Kravtsov to re-join the New York Rangers for camp

New York Rangers president John Davidson confirmed Tuesday that Vitali Kravtsov will be back with the team after being loaned to the KHL mid-season and returning to Harford in December. The 2018 first-round pick will be a part of the team’s training camp next month and compete once again for a role with the team.

“I think with Kravtsov, he’s going to come to our camp and we’ll see how it goes,” Davidson said. “We’re going to need some depth and skill as we march along here.”

In June of 2018, Kravtsov was drafted ninth overall by the New York Rangers in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. He signed with the Blueshirts the following year on April 15, 2019.

Kravtsov made his debut with Hartford in the AHL to start the 2019-20 season. Registering 1 assist in 5 games, Kravtsov opted to continue his development back in Russia, securing a loan for the remainder of the season with former club, Traktor Chelyabinsk of the KHL. He rejoined the Wolf Pack in December of 2019 and ended with six goals and 15 points in 39 games with the team. He had two goals and three points in 11 games with Chelyabinsk Traktor.

Can Kravtsov help the New York Rangers?

The first thing that will indicate if he can help is to check how his psyche is after a frustrating season. Kravtsov sulked when he didn’t make the team in training camp, then left Hartford to return to Russia before coming back. His game did get better late in the season, and even if the Rangers don’t use him ahead of other forwards, it certainly would be good for his development if he came to camp to be around the coaches and teammates to see if he can regain confidence in the skills that the Rangers saw in him when they selected him ninth overall in 2018.

Kravtsov is no stranger to playoff-type hockey.  He represented Russia at the 2019 World Junior Championships and ended the tournament with 6 points in 7 games, helping Russia claim the bronze medal against the Swiss national team. Also, during the 2018 KHL playoffs, Kravtsov broke the KHL record for most points by an 18-year-old in the postseason.

The Rangers hope that Kravtsov could be part of expanded rosters when they take on the Carolina Hurricanes in the first round of the NHL playoffs in July.

 

 

 

 

New York Knicks: Leon Rose praises Mike Miller, talks head-coaching search

New York Knicks, Leon Rose

New York Knicks president Leon Rose was interviewed by MSG Networks‘ Mike Breen Wednesday night on the “MSG 150 At Home.” The interview marked the first time Rose spoke publicly/virtually since joining the organization in February.

Among the many topics discussed were the team’s head-coaching situation. Rose praised Mike Miller, who took over as interim head coach after David Fizdale was fired in December 2019, for his efforts in leading the Knicks this season while noting how he hopes to have a head coach in place by the end of July.

“What I witnessed before I was here and what I saw being around Mike Miller – first class, did a great job in a very difficult situation, and we’re so appreciative of that. Mike is the first person that we talked to,” said Rose, who hasn’t had an introductory press conference yet.. “We’re setting it up in two phases. We’re having shorter meetings, kind of break the ice, with the various candidates, and then we’re going to have full interviews with the candidates, and Mike, obviously, is one of those candidates. We’re anticipating that to go to mid-to-late July, and hopefully by the end of July make a decision, whether it’s to keep Mike or to go in a different direction.

“But it’s really exciting. There’s a lot of really great candidates, and I’m not going to get into who the candidates are, but it’s exciting. We’re looking at a lot of different people with a lot of different mindsets, philosophies, and for me personally, this is educational, and I need to make sure that we go through this process and we dot every ‘I’ and cross every ‘T’ in order to make the right decision.”

Rose said he wants the team’s head coach to be a “leader” who will be “collaborative.”

“We want to find the right leader that can develop our young players, as well as hold everyone accountable and take us from development to becoming a perennial winner. We also want somebody that we think will be collaborative with the front office and someone that, when you’re in that huddle and you’re looking in that coach’s eyes, every player that’s looking at him knows that that person is driving the ship and going to get the job done.”

Rose and the Knicks have made a handful of front-office moves since the NBA season was suspended. They retained general manager Scott Perry, while hiring Walt Perrin as assistant general manager for college scouting, Brock Aller as vice president of basketball and strategic planning and William Wesley as executive vice president/senior basketball advisor, among others.