New York Knicks: Why Leon Rose’s early front office moves are encouraging

AJ LaRocca
New York Knicks, Leon Rose
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – MARCH 02: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) New York Knicks president Leon Rose (C) watches his team play against the Houston Rockets at Madison Square Garden on March 02, 2020 in New York City. The Knicks defeated the Rockets 125-123. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Over the past couple of weeks, new New York Knicks president Leon Rose has been wasting no time putting together his front office. Rose has filled multiple key positions with well-respected executives who come from successful organizations. It’s obviously far too early to tell whether or not these signings will end up working out for the Knicks, but the early reactions across the league have been met with strong praise.

When it comes to the front office, there is no salary cap that teams have to abide by like there is with the players. That means teams can go after the best guys and give them as much money as they want, which is something that particularly works in favor of big market teams like the New York Knicks who have more money to spend. Rose seems to have taken this into account as he has been able to pry away multiple people from great situations and into a high-risk rebuilding project with New York, although the connections he’s made over his years of being an agent certainly helped as well.

Rose started off by making the decision to retain current general manager Scott Perry for at least one more year. While that received mixed reviews from fans, I am among those who are okay with this move. Perry is a good basketball mind and talent evaluator who deserves a chance to prove himself without former president Steve Mills, who I believe was the real problem, over his head. He might prove me wrong, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him do better with Mills out of the picture.

Rose then brought in a capologist from the Cleveland Cavaliers in Brock Aller. This is a very interesting hire, as Aller has been praised by Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert for his knowledge about the salary cap and his creativity in trades in relation to the cap. This knowledge and creativity will be very useful to Rose and the New York Knicks, as the NBA will probably see a shortage in cap space and flexibility due to the coronavirus shutdown. It’s good for Rose to have a guy like Aller by his side to help navigate him through something like that, especially during your first offseason as president.

A few weeks later, Rose made two strong assistant general manager hires in Walt Perrin, who was most recently the vice president of player personnel for the Utah Jazz, and Frank Zanin, who was a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s front office and a former assistant GM for the Brooklyn Nets. Perrin will control the college scouting aspect, while Zanin will handle the pro personnel scouting aspect. Both are very well-respected around the league and will add much-needed expertise to the Knicks front office.

Perrin has had a great track record with the Jazz that spans over the course of almost twenty years, playing instrumental roles in the selections of stars such as Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, Gordon Hayward, Paul Millsap, and Deron Williams. He’s also known as being a “road warrior,” meaning he is always out traveling and searching for talent. This pandemic has prevented him from being able to do that, but it hasn’t stopped Perrin from working and coming up with new ways to scout players. This dedication and work ethic is a refreshing change of pace after having to deal with Phil Jackson sleeping at draft workouts just a few years ago.

Zanin also has an accomplished track record as a scout and front office member. He even has a GM endorsement from the late Kobe Bryant, who Zanin grew up and played high school basketball with, which certainly isn’t a bad thing to have under your belt.

It remains to be seen what other front office moves Rose will make in the coming weeks and what head coach he will ultimately end up going with for next season and beyond. However, his early hires are a good start. They bring a certain level of knowledge and experience in the different areas of building a successful franchise to a team that hasn’t been one in nearly two decades. This front office team will be very important for Rose to have going forward as he continues to learn the ropes and get adjusted to his new position. Hopefully they can be the group that finally leads the Knicks back to relevance.