WATCH: Kenny Smith Discusses Knicks, Interest in Joining Front Office
Amid the many rumors surrounding the Knicks and their front office situation, from Leon Rose and Steve Stoute to John Calipari and Tom Thibodeau, there’s been no shortage of names linked to the team. One of those linked last week by Marc Berman of the New York Post was TNT analyst Kenny Smith.
Smith, who grew up in Queens and went to Archbishop Molloy High School before a long and championship-winning NBA career, said he heard all about these rumors and had plenty of ideas on how to build a team and run a front office based on trust.
“I’m from New York, so everyone’s calling,” Smith said regarding the report. “I know at some point, I have the things to offer that are missing in places. And I say them on television. So I understand where it comes from, and I know eventually that’s going to happen.”
As with anyone on the Inside The NBA cast, Smith has never been one to pull punches or hide how he really feels.
“The Knicks? They’re not a good team right now,” he said. “They’re not a good team that needs to figure out how they’re gonna develop their team.”
That responsibility will ultimately reportedly fall on CAA superagent Leon Rose, who’s eventually poised to take the Knicks’ president role vacant following Steve Mills’ ouster. What Smith says he can bring to the table is a combination of talent evaluation and a voice that people can trust and believe in.
“What I say on television, people trust it,” Smith said. “That’s what you need in a culture of winning. If someone says something, you have to trust it so that people don’t have to be checking in and fact checking everything you say. They’re actually gonna go do it and then see if it works or not.”
Smith said that two ways to build a team are to attract premier free agents or have an eye for talent and the ability to develop it. The NBA’s contenders are build in different ways, but it’s impossible to fake the ability to find talent, whether that’s a European draft prospect, a college stud or an overlooked diamond in the rough.
“When you have the eye, you know it,” Smith said. “It’s kinda like a record producer. I feel like I’m the record producer. I have a good ear for music. That guy’s gonna be good, his skills are transferable to greatness or just good or average.”
The Knicks have been lacking in both attracting max-level players and finding and developing talent for the last several years, as Phil Jackson, Derek Fisher, Jeff Hornacek and Steve Mills have failed to deliver the tangible growth and progress New York has craved.
“When you don’t have people that you trust their word, or you don’t trust what they say is accurate, or they haven’t lived in these championship moments,” Smith said, “players across the league, they see through all of that. Quickly.”
What the Knicks hope for in Rose, is someone that the players can trust. Some of the NBA’s top stars, from Joel Embiid, Karl-Anthony Towns and Chris Paul to Mike Conley, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony, have put that trust in Rose to provide them with the best business and basketball situation possible. As the Knicks try to attract talent and find and develop talent to begin the decade, it’ll be up to Rose to find the right people to help New York achieve its long-elusive goals. Perhaps one day, Kenny Smith will be part of those plans for either the Knicks or another fortunate NBA franchise.