NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The New York Knicks parted ways with team president Steve Mills on Tuesday, shaking up their front office just two days before the NBA trade deadline.
General manager Scott Perry will take over control of the basketball operations, with the team announcing that it would begin an immediate search for a new president.
“Steve and I have come to the decision that it would be best for him to leave his role as president of the New York Knicks,” owner James Dolan said. “We thank Steve for his many years of service to our organization and look forward to continuing our relationship with him as part of our board.”
Mills’ departure is the second major change for the Knicks this season. They fired coach David Fizdale after just 22 games.
“It has been a great honor to represent the Knicks,” Mills said in a statement. “I will always be grateful to Jim for giving me the chance to represent this franchise and I’m disappointed we were unable to achieve success for New York. I would like to thank the staff and the players for their hard work during my tenure. I will always be a Knicks fan.”
According to ESPN, the Knicks would like to pursue Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri to replace Mills, but haven’t warmed up to the idea of forking over draft-pick considerations as potential compensation. Ujiri’s contract runs through the 2020-21 season.
The Knicks are 15-36 this season, Mills’ third in charge after replacing Phil Jackson. They were 17-65 last season, tying the worst record in franchise history, but believed a big summer could lead to a quick improvement.
However, they couldn’t sign any of the top free agents despite having enough money to afford two of them, watching as Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving instead went to Brooklyn. Mills then pivoted to sign veteran players to short-term contracts, later insisting those were the players New York was targeting all along.
But instead the Knicks are headed for a seventh consecutive season with a losing record and no playoff appearance. New York has just one postseason series win since 1999-2000.
Now it will be up to Perry to decide if there are moves worth making for the Knicks before Thursday. Their big trade from last season appears to be a failure, as Kristaps Porzingis has helped spark a turnaround in Dallas after New York traded its former All-Star there on Jan. 31, 2019.
Mills has held a number of titles at Madison Square Garden since 1999, where he came after spending 16 years at the NBA. But this was the first time his role included full control of basketball decisions.
Mills was the Knicks’ general manager from 2013-17 before being elevated to president after Jackson’s departure. He hired Perry and Fizdale, touting a new culture and a plan to rebuild the franchise through youth instead of seeking quick fixes.
But there haven’t been any fixes at all.
Pressure shifted onto Mills after Fizdale was fired following a 4-18 start to his second season. The Knicks have played better under interim coach Mike Miller and won their last two games, but the organization remains one of the league’s laughingstocks.
New York was blown out at home by Memphis last Wednesday in its most recent home game, when point guard Elfrid Payton was suspended and forward Marcus Morris fined for their roles in an altercation late in the game. Fans chanted “Sell the team! Sell the team!” with Dolan sitting in his courtside seat.
Dolan decided on a different change.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)