James Dolan says he is not selling the New York Knicks.
Dolan issued a statement on Thursday to say two things. One, they are looking to hire a team president. And two, he is not selling the team.
Statement from Madison Square Garden Executive Chairman and CEO James L. Dolan: pic.twitter.com/91G6Qf8OBc
— NY_KnicksPR (@NY_KnicksPR) February 6, 2020
Dolan’s statement comes the same day as reports saying the Knicks are working to hire agent Leon Rose as their president of basketball operations. Rose and William Wesley (aka “Worldwide Wes”) would help run the team.
Fans who have been disenchanted with the franchise have repeatedly taunted Dolan with “sell the team” chants, but Dolan will not give them their wish. Instead, he’s hoping these front office changes will help improve things.
The New York Knicks were immediately linked to Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri after firing president Steve Mills, as the franchise has long been interested in his services. Owner James Dolan, however, may have lost the appetite for such a pursuit.
Speaking Wednesday on the “Woj & Lowe Trade Deadline Show,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said his growing belief is that Dolan is simply no longer willing to try to clear the hurdles that would be associated with a pursuit of Ujiri.
“As much as he’s coveted Masai Ujiri, the hurdles that it would take to get there from draft compensation to Toronto allowing him out of his contract to Masai wanting to do this, he seems that he has lost his desire to go forward and chase that,” Wojnarowski said.
Initial reporting from Woj himself stated that Ujiri would be the Knicks’ top target, but that talk has cooled quickly within 24 hours. Dolan appears to want a quick resolution to this job search, and chasing Ujiri might require a more drawn-out process. Walking away from Ujiri may also be easier if, as reported, other top executives want the Knicks job.
Ultimately, there’s little clarity on where this search will land. It does appear, however, that the chances of the Knicks landing Ujiri are rapidly decreasing.
The New York Knicks made a major change on Tuesday when they fired president of basketball operations Steve Mills, and team owner James Dolan may now look to two of the most successful franchises in the NBA for a blueprint of how to rebuild his front office.
ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski report that Dolan is considering a front office model that is similar to the ones that are in place with the Warriors and Lakers — two teams that have former player agents running their basketball operations departments.
ESPN Sources with @ramonashelburne: Knicks owner Jim Dolan is already considering a front office model that is working with Golden State (Bob Myers) and the Lakers (Rob Pelinka): Hiring a top basketball executive out of the player agent ranks.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 4, 2020
Obviously, the model has worked in Golden State and Los Angeles. The Warriors have won multiple championships under Meyers’ leadership, and the Lakers are one of the favorites to win the title this year. The Knicks, on the other hand, have not reached the postseason in five years. They believed they were going to straighten things out when they hired Phil Jackson, but that turned out to be a disaster.
Dolan is reportedly eyeing one of the best executives in the NBA, but there are a lot of reasons the Knicks owner probably won’t get him. Hiring a former player agent would not be a bad idea, though it obviously depends on the person.
There are very few team owners in professional sports history who have faced more criticism than James Dolan, and the majority of it is warranted. However, the New York Knicks boss deserves credit for a kind gesture he made this week.
A memorial service was held for former NBA commissioner David Stern at Radio City Music Hall in New York on Tuesday. The venue is owned by Dolan’s company, The Madison Square Garden Company. According to SNY’s Ian Begley, Dolan covered all of the expenses for the event honoring Stern.
Nice gesture by the Knicks, who get banged around a lot but deserve credit here. Also worth noting: expenses for the David Stern Memorial event were covered by NYK owner James Dolan, whose company owns Radio City Music Hall. https://t.co/KulqCY66gk
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) January 22, 2020
We know Dolan is a billionaire who owns the venue where the service was held, but that was still a nice gesture no matter how you look at it.
Dolan takes a ton of heat for the way he runs the Knicks, and the results speak for themselves. The team has not been to the postseason in the past six years. There’s no question Dolan does a poor job on the basketball side, but he did the right thing in helping the NBA community and others pay tribute to Stern.
The New York Knicks have been one of the worst teams in the NBA for two decades now, and that is why James Dolan has become one of the most hated owners in all of sports. At least one of his former players does not think that is fair.
Enes Kanter, who spent less than two seasons with the Knicks, defended Dolan on Sunday with Kanter’s Boston Celtics taking on New York. He called it “terrible” that Dolan gets blamed for his team’s struggles on the court when “he has nothing to do with it.”
Enes Kanter defended James Dolan, saying it's "terrible" people blame him for the struggles of the Knicks. Below is Kanter's full quote. pic.twitter.com/928AmJROd5
— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) December 2, 2019
When a team posts the worst winning percentage in the league over a 20-year span, that reflects poorly on ownership and management. You can’t get unlucky for that long in terms of having good players who simply don’t produce on the court. There have been reports every year about how the Knicks botch major deals, and Dolan has chosen to be a very visible owner. The criticism comes with the territory.
Interestingly enough, Kanter has taken multiple shots at the Knicks since he last played for them less than a year ago. Apparently he was happy to get away from their losing culture but does not feel Dolan is responsible for creating it.
The Knicks are tied for the worst record in the Eastern Conference this year at 4-16, and things have only gotten worse for them after they missed out on every star free agent over the summer. No one seems to want to play for them despite their rich history, and Dolan has a lot to do with that. He has feuded with fans and the local media over the criticism of his team, but the only way to make it stop is to assemble a winner.
New York Knicks owner James Dolan is known for being very sensitive about fans criticizing him or the team during home games at Madison Square Garden, but apparently he doesn’t want to hear it at music events, either.
Dolan’s latest exchange with a Knicks critic came over the weekend, when he was shown on camera banning a fan who heckled him by telling him to “sell the team.” He claimed he only banned the fan because he believes the fan’s intentions were to have a premeditated confrontation. A Knicks supporter who called out Dolan in a different setting is not buying the billionaire’s excuse.
In response to the latest example of Dolan being thin-skinned, a man who attended a concert in Tennessee featuring Dolan’s band, JD and The Straight Shot, several months ago shared a video that shows Dolan booting him from the venue because he was holding a sign that read “Quit Your Day Job. Sell the Knicks.”
— Kevin DiStasio (@slickandquick) March 14, 2019
“Why are you here?” Dolan asked the fan in the middle of the show. “You’re a fan of music and you’re holding up that sign? Don’t you think that’s a little negative?”
Dolan then told the man to leave so “everyone else can have a good time.” Here’s what the sign looked like, for those who are wondering:
— Kevin DiStasio (@slickandquick) March 12, 2019
The Knicks have been terrible for years. They’re one of the worst teams in the NBA this season, and they traded away their best player in Kristaps Porzingis. Dolan is even feuding with newspapers now in addition to fans, and it’s fair to wonder why he doesn’t sell the team. It would not be a surprise if that happens at some point in the near future.
New York Daily News sports editor Kyle Wagner on Tuesday issued a savage response to Knicks owner James Dolan.
Dolan went on the radio earlier in the day to address many topics, including most notably his publicized exchange with a heckling fan. Another topic that came up in his interview with “The Michael Kay Show” was the team banning Daily News reporter Stefan Bondy from certain press events.
“There are certain journalists that, you know, actually wish ill will toward the team,” Dolan said in defense of his decision. “They have never written a positive story about the team. Like the (Kristaps) Porzingis trade, those guys were like, it’s the most horrible thing, another horrible thing has happened.”
Wagner issued a response shortly after Dolan’s comments.
“MSG’s grudge against the Daily News predates the journalists writing about the Knicks in our pages today,” the statement said. “If the tone of coverage tends to be negative, it’s because the team is 41 games under .500 and has the worst winning percentage in the NBA over the last 20 seasons.”
You can’t deny the facts.