New York Knicks Basketball Operations: What We Know

Howard Megdal

The news has come fast and furious since the story broke, soon confirmed by the Knicks, that Steve Mills had been fired as president of the team.

Here's what we know, along with some informed analysis of what it all means.

1. The Knicks covet Masai Ujiri

Okay, this one we knew for a while. The Raptors' leader has long been a Jim Dolan favorite since, perhaps, he fleeced the Knicks in the Andrea Bargnani trade. The issue here is, of course, if the Knicks decide to move quickly over the next 48 hours to have someone in place by the trade deadline, it cannot be Ujiri unless they trade assets to Toronto for the right to add their current executive.

They can also go the interim route and wait until the summer. But as Marc Stein reminds us...

2. The difference of opinion that led to the end of Mills with the Knicks was over Marcus Morris

This one's been argued here in this space, among Knicks fans all over, and apparently, within the weird power structure the Knicks had with two, equally-weighted decision makers. (That seems built to lead to a lot of tie votes? Hey, I'm no math major.)

Mills apparently wanted to keep Morris, who loves New York, brings intensity to every game and is willing to sign a long-term deal this summer. Perry wanted to deal him, since he is a ball-dominant forward who can procure a first-round pick now, and the Knicks can still re-sign him this summer.

3. Austin Brown is in the mix

So assuming the Knicks don't want to trade two first round picks for Ujiri — and let's be clear, do not assume that, all things are possible in Knicks land — they have their eye, per Ian Begley, on an agent to make the leap to basketball ops.

Russell himself has been the subject of trade talks all week — really, all year since signing with Golden State, where he's never seemed like a fit. Williamson and Jackson are still early on in their rookie deals, but perhaps adding Brown would set the Knicks up for a summer of 2023, or 2024, with the plan to sign one of Jackson or Williamson as a free agent?

Unlikely, but for now, what we know in a macro way is that Steve Mills, incredibly, wanted to go with a win-now trade deadline for a 15-36 team. Whether this veering away from such a strategy works out for the Knicks remains to be seen. And why it happened now, instead of, say, in a conversation six weeks ago, we still don't know. (You can be sure we'll be asking once the powers that be are available to media.)