James Dolan isn’t fixing the Knicks’ biggest problem – James Dolan.
But the owner took a step in the right direction a few years ago by pouring a ton of money into the front office. Of course, Dolan did it in the worst way. Offering a five-year, $60 million contract, he didn’t target general managers with proven track records of success. He hired front-office novice Phil Jackson, whose tenure was a wreck.
With Jackson out, will Dolan get it right this time?
The Knicks are reportedly interested in Raptors president Masai Ujiri, but it will be more complicated now, because Ujiri just signed a contract extension and the Knicks are still paying Jackson.
But can New York lure Ujiri from Toronto?
As a source close to MLSE ownership told me Wednesday morning: “Don’t even waste your time on this.”
But as one NBA source put it: “This is not fake news, the Knicks will be coming hard.”
Ujiri signed a five-year extension worth $32 million last September
All that just makes the Knicks more desperate for a new saviour, and league sources indicate the Knicks are already confident Ujiri is coming to New York.
Despite the contract, sources indicate Ujiri can leave if he wants to leave. It’s really up to him.
As for reports that the Knicks were interested in Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri, sources told ESPN that the Knicks have a deep respect for him, but he’s under contract and thus would require permission to speak to and compensation — likely draft picks — which the Knicks would be very reluctant to consider.
Dolan has the fortune to offer Ujiri a significant raise and buy him out of his Raptors contract. Money goes a long way in these negotiations, though it’s unclear how much Dolan would spend on a less-flashy name – and whether the Raptors want more than just cash.
Sending Toronto first-round picks as compensation would hurt the Knicks, but not as much as hiring another incompetent front-office head.
Will Ujiri land in New York? There are so many mixed signals, but it appears the Knicks at least have a chance.