Steve Mills wants his new hire Scott Perry to fight for moves he believes in, but ultimately the final decision will be made by the president, not the general manager.
“I’m going to give Scott the room to make basketball decisions and make recommendations to me,’’ Mills said at Monday’s press conference to formally announce his promotion to the presidency and the hiring of Perry as GM. “He’s going to have a chance to manage the coaching staff, manage the scouting staff, and make recommendations as to where we should go as a basketball organization. I think we’ll be partners in that in the sense that he’ll come to me with his recommendation and we’ll debate it back and forth. But at the end of the day, I’m giving him the room to make those decisions.”
On ESPN Radio, Perry said Mills “will have the final say,’’ but this stands to be the most influence he’ll have after working for four teams, including the Pistons, who won the NBA title during the 2003-04 season.
“I’m excited about the direction, to meet with him last week, we’re aligned in so many ways,’’ Perry said. “I come from a background of a lot of winning programs. So I’m hopeful to bring some of those experiences that I learned there to help continue to enhance this franchise.’’
Mills said Perry will analyze the front-office staff and be given the freedom to make changes if need be. When Mills replaced Glen Grunwald as president before the 2013-14 season, he didn’t have a GM.
“I think one of the things differently, last time I came in with a different title of president and general manager,’’ Mills said. “So as we talked about, and I discussed this with Jim [Dolan], how I want to envision this organization going forward, one of the things I made clear was I thought we needed to bring in a general manager.’’
It is clear the Mills-Perry directive also is to establish better management relations with players, reversing what went on during Phil Jackson’s leadership. Jackson warred with Anthony and failed to mend fences with Kristaps Porzingis after he blew off his exit meeting following the season. One of Perry’s attributes, according to sources, is his relationship with the players and media.
“The best way I’m going to do that is I’m going to be Scott Perry,’’ he said. “I’m going to be who I am and what got me here, and that’s a person who’s very up front, straight forward, a hard worker, and I’m going to be available as much as I can be available. I want to make sure that I see myself as a bridge-builder, not a bridge-destroyer.”
In perhaps a reference to the Jackson-induced chaos, Perry said the Knicks will “have a shared vision and focus in everything we do — whether it’s scouting or meeting or going to evaluate prospects or observing practices, we’re going to be consistent in everything we do.”
Mills took the high road in discussing working with Jackson for more than three years.
“When you have an opportunity to work with somebody who won 11 championships like Phil Jackson, you can’t help from learn from him,’’ Mills said. “So he certainly has taught me a lot about basketball and the culture of basketball. He taught me a lot about how you interact with players as a coach, so there’s a lot things that I learned from Phil and I consider him a friend.”
Mills sounded like ground is being made in healing the wounds with Porzingis, who blew off his exit meeting with Jackson out of protest for the team’s dysfunction.
“Kristaps and I have a hectic texting relationship. I continue to text Kristaps over the summer and he and I have spoken two or three times over the summer,’’ Mills said.
Mills said the club is formulating a plan on visiting its three players in the European Championships — Porzingis (Latvia), Willy Hernangomez (Spain) and Mindaugas Kuzminskas (Lithuania).
Porzingis began training camp in Latvia on Monday, but wouldn’t take questions Knicks-related.
“I would prefer not to talk about any issues regarding New York Knicks,’’ Porzingis said in a translation obtained from Latvian journalist Ingmaārs Jurisons. “You are right, there was lot of things going on, but that was in New York. I was here in Liepaja, and that was on purpose. I’m just afraid that anything could distract me from my goal, which is national team right now.”
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