Knicks president Leon Rose, GM Scott Perry and head coach Tom Thibodeau met with a group of reporters at the team training facility on Friday.
Here are a few takeaways from their chat with reporters:
ALL KNICKS ARE VACCINATED
Perry said that the organization is proud of the fact that all players, coaches and team personnel have gotten a COVID-19 vaccination. This is significant because the Knicks and Nets need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to play home games and to practice within city limits, per an NYC mandate.
“I think it’s a credit to our players in particular that they took this thing very seriously and took the responsibility to get that done,” Perry said. Thibodeau and Rose also credited Dr. Lisa Callahan, the Chief Medical Officer & Senior Vice President of Player Care at Madison Square Garden, head athletic trainer emeritus Roger Hinds and head athletic trainer Anthony Goenaga.
“This is something that we’ve been on top of really the entire year and again, just proud of our players for really stepping up and doing their part in this,” Perry added. “We’re an organization that will obviously follow laws and mandates from the leagues and state government, but a lot of this was internally driven.”
NO BOLD PREDICTIONS
Rose didn’t offer any specific expectations when talking about the 2021-22 Knicks.
“We want to continue to develop our players, we want to build on what we did last year and we want to get better every day,” he said.
“Our focus is on the day to day. I’m not going to make predictions or speculate.”
Rose said the club prioritized continuity and flexibility in the 2021 offseason. They believe the continuity (re-signing Derrick Rose, Nerlens Noel, Alec Burks and Taj Gibson) will help on the floor this season and the flexibility (tradable contracts; 15 draft picks in the next four years) will help in the future.
Before taking over the Knicks, Rose was a longtime player agent at CAA. He had dozens of clients on the Knicks over the years (Rick Brunson, Carmelo Anthony, JR Smith, Andrea Bargnani) and is surely well-aware of the drama and dysfunction that surrounded the club for the better part of the previous two decades.
Rose, speaking to the media for the second time as team president, was asked on Friday if his regime would avoid the ‘quick fix’ moves that have doomed some past Knick front offices.
“I’m not gonna comment on what’s gone on before, but with our group here and Wes (William Wesley, executive VP) and (executive VP) Brock (Aller) and (assistant GM) Frank (Zanin), we’re going to take it one day at a time,” Rose said. “We’re gonna be aggressive as far as knowing what’s going on and as far as being on top of things and looking at opportunities (to improve the roster). But at the same time, we’re gonna be prudent and disciplined in decisions that we make.”
Rose later added: “Our goal is to build something here that other players are going to look at and say, ‘ I want to be a part of that.’ And we’re doing that step by step.”
Internally, the Knicks have long expressed confidence about their ability to trade for a star if the right one were to become available. There was no reason for Rose to say that out loud on Friday. But, based on how things currently stand in the league, that seems to be the club’s best route to obtain a star.
Thibodeau agreed with the idea that the Knicks may have become more attractive to players outside the organization following last season’s success.
“I think getting started as a team last year, getting credibility by the degree of how hard and how together we are, it makes it appealing for other people to look at us,” he said.
“But we have to win. And I think it starts with our own players, then we look at the draft, then we look at free agency. And then we’ll look at trades, and you’re always thinking how can we get better. And you think about it all the time. And Leon and his staff – Scott and Wes, and you think about it all the time. But you focus on the guys that we have first. We’re excited about our young players. We think Mitch (Robinson) has a huge upside. RJ (Barrett) has a huge upside. And I don’t know where our young guys are in Miles (McBride) and Quentin (Grimes), but I love both of them.”
BULLISH ON BARRETT, OBI, QUICKLEY
Here’s what he said: “I think you guys have watched his growth. His ability to go off the dribble and get into the lane, his size, and also the way he improved his 3-point shooting last year, he made a major step. He’s made a huge commitment this summer. We think he’ll continue to get better and to do what he did, people tend to forget, he’s 21 years old. He averaged 18 points per game on a playoff team. he’s hungry, he’s driven. He’s smart, he’s competitive. Those are all the characteristics we’re looking for…. That’s why he’ll continue to get better.”
“I think (Toppin) took maybe two days off and he was back in the gym. And you all saw him in summer league and he played really well; and he’s been in the gym every day (following Summer League),” Thibodeau said.
“We have gym rats. We want guys to get better. I think (Toppin is) in a completely different place right now. I think he learned a lot last year,” Thibodeau added. “And then our depth is huge for us, so we want him to continue to grow, continue to get better, learn from each experience, and I think he’s done that, so we’re very pleased.
“He and Quick have been phenomenal. Right from the end of last season all the way through the summer, it helped set the tone for the young guys that were drafted. They came in and we had a bunch of other guys here as well, so it was a very productive summer, but what Obi and Quick did was fantastic, so I thought both guys have grown a lot this summer.”
Source: Yahoo Sports