Less than a day into free agency this summer, New York Knicks president Steve Mills released a statement to disgruntled fans claiming the team was confident in a plan that apparently didn’t include signing top-tier free agents. Obviously something you do when everything is going well.
Well, now less than a month into the regular season, Mills publicly addressed the team’s performance again.
Knicks president: Team isn’t performing as expected
Following an embarrassing 21-point loss to the also-rebuilding Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Mills made a rare move of talking to reporters about the 2-8 team’s performance, or lack thereof.
It wasn’t a very positive performance review, via SNY’s Ian Begley.
"Given that this is our 10th game, we felt like we had an obligation to come and speak to you guys," Mills said. "Obviously, Scott and I are not happy with where we are right now. We think the team's not performing to the level that we anticipated or we expected to perform at and that's something that we think we have to collectively do a better job of delivering the product on the floor that we said we would do at the start of this season.
"We still believe in our coaching staff, we believe in the plan that Scott and I put together and the players that we've assembled. But we also have to acknowledge that we haven't played at the level we expected to play at. We've sort of seen glimpses of how we can play as a team, when everything comes together. But we've got to find a way to play complete games at the level that we expect our team to play at and that's a responsibility that we take collectively. But I also think it's important for us to communicate to our fans that we're not happy where we are right now and we're committed to making this better."
Head coach David Fizdale later addressed the media and took full responsibility for the team’s performance, per Begley. He also noted the team is only two games out from the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Mills had already told reporters that the team still believes in the coach, and that team owner James Dolan still believes in the plan that got the team to this point.
Marcus Morris, one of the team’s many veteran power forwards, supported Mills’ assessment of the team in more profane terms.
Marcus Morris on Steve Mills and Scott Perry addressing the media after the Knicks fell to 2-8 on the season: pic.twitter.com/aWX883XGqD
— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) November 11, 2019
As much as the Knicks seem committed to getting better, the truth is that very few people outside New York believed the team would compete for the playoffs, even in a weak East. The team’s composition — stacked with power forwards like Morris, Julius Randle and Bobby Portis while relying on a young backcourt to create — was questionable from the start.
Teams have succeeded with odder rosters, but the Knicks lost the benefit of the doubt long ago when it comes to being greater than the sum of their parts. The team was thankfully able to maintain payroll flexibility for a future swing at free agents, but it’s hard to say the team is building a foundation like the one that lured Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to the crosstown Brooklyn Nets.
The team is simply bad right now, will likely be bad in the near future and, if history has taught us anything, will be bad in the distant future as well. Or, as Cavaliers broadcaster Austin Carr put it:
Cavs’ Austin Carr on the Knicks: ‘If you look at their players, they’re rejects from other teams.’
— Joe Vardon (@joevardon) November 11, 2019
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