You don’t need Enes Kanter to know that NBA players talk to one another. There’s a relatively small pool of NBA-level-players, and they went against each other (or were teamed up) at the AAU and college level, and were together at Nike Peach Jam and other youth events. They know each other. They talk. Most of the time not about their jobs — just like most readers here with their friends, they mostly text about restaurants and relationships and football games.
But they do talk work sometimes. From Draymond Green texting and recruiting Kevin Durant right after the Warriors lost in the 2016 Finals through Spencer Dinwiddie befriending and recruiting Kyrie Irving to the Knicks last summer, there is plenty of evidence of these conversations.
When do talk work it’s not good for the Knicks and that hurts them in free agency, former Knick Enes Kanter said on the Full 48 Podcast with Howard Beck. (Hat tip SNY.TV)
“Not many people know that, but players talk. From different teams, they talk. I’m not blaming anybody — I had an amazing time with the Knicks. But other teammates I talked to or if they’re on different teams, they always said, ‘Amazing city, MSG is amazing. Everything is so good, but the ownership.’ They always keep saying, ‘But the ownership.'”
Kanter went on to “guess” that some of the free agents who speak ill of Knicks’ ownership are “scared” to come to the Knicks and “don’t even want to deal with that.”
Knicks fans are nodding in agreement.
It’s that perception that team president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry are working to change — trying to show there is stability, that basketball decisions will be made for basketball reasons, that owner James Dolan is not going to meddle. To be fair, Dolan tried to change that perception with the hiring of Phil Jackson and giving him power, Dolan stepped back and let Jackson do his thing. That thing just ended up being a triangle offense players hated and messing up the team’s relationship with Kristaps Porzingis.
Mills and Perry have made solid moves since being in charge, including trying to start building a young core with guys such as Dennis Smith Jr. and R.J. Barrett. How those particular players and others on the roster work out remains to be seen, but at least the ship seems to be heading the right direction.
It’s just going to take time for perception to catch up with that, because that reputation was a long time in the making.