Mike Miller Deserves Better
For an organization that has deluded themselves into thinking many things that haven’t come true over the course of many years, no one was under the impression that Mike Miller was long for this job.
Not with a new President of Basketball Operations on his way in the form of Leon Rose, a new “TBD behind the scenes operator” in Willian “World Wide Wes” Wesley, and in all likelihood, a new general manager to take the place of Scott Perry. This is how things work in the NBA, after all. When you clean house, you don’t leave behind the draperies, even if they do have a certain kitsch about them.
That said, Knicks interim head coach Mike Miller took over a 4-18 roster that had little reason to do anything other than show up to work and collect paychecks over the remainder of the season. He's proceeded to guide them out of the depths of utter futility and into the territory of a normal, mediocre-to-bad NBA team.
Considering how his predecessor fared, what he's done is impressive.
Over the last dozen games, in fact, not only have the Knicks had a higher scoring margin than their opponents and an even 6-6 record, but they rank fifth in the NBA in defensive rating. For a team giving prominent minutes to the likes of Bobby Portis, Julius Randle and Kevin Knox, that last part is more than a minor accomplishment.
So today, when Knicks new branding consultant Steve Stoute went on ESPN’s First Take and essentially fired Miller and the rest of his staff on live television, there was a reason everyone was quick to raise an eyebrow.
Perhaps in Stoute's exuberance to hit the ground running, he forgot that he lives in a world where even the slightest slip of the tongue will get replayed millions of times over on social media.
Is it that big of a deal? More egregious errors have been made by men far more accomplished and seasoned in their fields than him, after all.
But when your field of alleged expertise is taking an organization that can never seem to get out of its own way and improving how people look at it, and the likes of Woj himself are cracking jokes after your first public appearance, it cannot be taken as a minor error.
That's the only appropriate word here - incompetence. This was a textbook example of an unforced error. Nobody was calling for Stoute to say anything, but he felt the need to do so for reasons that we can only guess. This isn't a summer when stars will decide on their next home. There was no PR disaster from which the Knicks needed to get out from underneath.
Well, there wasn't before today, at least.
And to add the cherry on top, the Knicks Public Relations Twitter account - an entity that could have used its own bit of rebranding following the Richard Jefferson fiasco - had to issue a statement to clean up Stoute's mess:
And now here are the Knicks, having hired a man to help rebrand a team that never seems to realize true improvement comes from within, left facing the fact that even that misguided attempt at progress has backfired.
Perhaps this is the wake up call James Dolan needs to realize that all the lipstick in the world won't matter until he takes a good, long look in the mirror.
Or maybe Leon Rose can provide him with one. Rose, whether his hire was Stoute's idea or not, is one person who is most certainly not laughing at today's ineptitude. He knows the importance of perception more than anyone, and one has to think such an error wouldn't have taken place under his watch.
Knick fans have to hope he comes aboard in an official capacity soon. For as unproven as he is, today showed that even an unknown is better that the hands currently steering the ship.
Miller, meanwhile, will just keep chugging along.
That's what pros do. They keep moving forward, regardless of the distractions surrounding them.
Miller will be that and more, as will his staff. And who knows...maybe they'll have a longer MSG shelf life than the man who prematurely told the world today that he was getting the ax. He deserves that much. Maybe now he'll get it, not in spite of today, but ironically because of it.
This is the Knicks, after all. You never know what craziness lies around the next corner.