Knicks president Steve Mills, owner James Dolan and general manager Scott Perry
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Report: Knicks fire Steve Mills; pursuing Raptors president Masai Ujiri

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Steve Mills seized control of the Knicks’ front office – while running it potentially temporarily in the aftermath of Phil Jackson’s firing – by signing Tim Hardaway Jr. to a shockingly large contract. Mills didn’t even show up at Hardaway’s introductory press conference to explain the move. But that signing scared off other candidates, and the Knicks just let Mills remain president.

I can’t believe that went poorly.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Mills did a horrendous job. He came in preaching patiently rebuilding. Then, he traded Kristaps Porzingis to unload big contracts (including Hardaway’s) to open double-max cap space. But New York struck out on Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard and every other star. Somewhere along the way, the Knicks returned to focusing on developing young players. Yet, New York also signed a bunch of blah veterans last summer then set expectations way too high.

Amid ever-changing directions, the Knicks are 15-36 and headed toward their seventh straight losing season.

Of course, this isn’t all Mills’ fault. Problems start with owner James Dolan. He’s petty and vindictive, creating a destructive culture throughout Madison Square Garden. His influence on basketball operations – including keeping Mills, who was also Jackson’s predecessor – is almost unbelievably bad.

Masai Ujiri is a great executive, and New York is wise to pursue him. But luring him and compensating the Raptors will be difficult to pull off. There’s a chance. I also wouldn’t trust Dolan to execute.

Just look how he handled Mills.

Why now? Mills appeared finished for a while. Yet, the Knicks kept him all the way until the commotion of trade-deadline week. New York is negotiating on several fronts – most notably Marcus Morris. Firing Mills just two days before the deadline brings unnecessary chaos. The Knicks should have fired him before ever reaching this point.

Scott Perry takes over, his first time leading a front office. He fell up to New York after the Kings did a lousy job during his short time in Sacramento. That followed working for the Magic during Rob Hennigan’s underwhelming tenure. Maybe Perry would have operated differently than bosses. Evaluating individual non-lead executives is difficult from afar. But Perry’s teams have shown little reason to have faith in anyone involved.

Still, if Perry lands an expensive veteran before Thursday’s trade deadline, maybe he can remain in charge.

ESPN moving up Michael Jordan documentary to April

Bulls great Michael Jordan and Phil Jackson
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ESPN threw cold water on hopes its 10-part documentary on Michael Jordan and the Bulls, originally scheduled for June, would premiere early with the sports world lacking content due to the coronavirus.

Apparently, that was a misdirect.

ESPN release:

Today it was announced that the premiere of “The Last Dance,” the highly anticipated 10-part documentary series will air on ESPN in the U.S. on Sunday nights over five weeks from April 19 through May 17. The series will also be available outside of the U.S. on Netflix.

The series, directed by Jason Hehir (“The Fab Five,” “The ’85 Bears,” “Andre the Giant”), chronicles one of the greatest icons and most successful teams in sports history, Michael Jordan and the 1990s Chicago Bulls, and features never-before-seen footage from the 1997-98 season as the team pursued its sixth NBA championship in eight years.

ESPN statement: “As society navigates this time without live sports, viewers are still looking to the sports world to escape and enjoy a collective experience. We’ve heard the calls from fans asking us to move up the release date for this series, and we’re happy to announce that we’ve been able to accelerate the production schedule to do just that. This project celebrates one of the greatest players and dynasties ever, and we hope it can serve as a unifying entertainment experience to fill the role that sports often play in our lives, telling a story that will captivate everyone, not just sports fans.”

In the fall of 1997, Michael Jordan, Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf and head coach Phil Jackson agreed to let an NBA Entertainment film crew follow the team all season long. The result would be a remarkable portrait of an iconic player and a celebrated team – a portrait only now being revealed, more than two decades later, in “The Last Dance.”

As the series weaves its way through the tumultuous 1997-98 season, viewers will be transported back to how it all began – from Jordan’s childhood roots, the Bulls’ dire circumstances before his arrival and how the team was built after drafting him in 1984, to the struggles that eventually led to the team’s first NBA championship. As the series takes the audience through the Bulls’ first five championships, viewers will experience the off-court challenges, struggles and triumphs that were a part of the culture-shifting phenomenon created by Jordan and the Bulls.

It’s an unlikely scenario that serves as a fascinating backdrop for the inside tale of the 1998 championship run, with extensive profiles of Jordan’s key teammates including Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and Steve Kerr, head coach Phil Jackson, and featuring dozens of current-day interviews with rivals and luminaries from basketball and beyond. All throughout, the tension and conflict that defined that final championship run are very much on display.

“Michael Jordan and the ‘90s Bulls weren’t just sports superstars, they were a global phenomenon,” said director Jason Hehir. “Making ‘The Last Dance’ was an incredible opportunity to explore the extraordinary impact of one man and one team. For nearly three years, we searched far and wide to present the definitive story of an era-defining dynasty and to present these sports heroes as humans. I hope viewers enjoy watching our series as much as we enjoyed the opportunity to make it.”


Sunday, April 19

9 p.m. ET – Premiere of “The Last Dance” Episode 1

10 p.m. ET – Premiere of “The Last Dance” Episode 2

Sunday, April 26

7 p.m. ET – Re-air of “The Last Dance” Episode 1

8 p.m. ET – Re-air of “The Last Dance” Episode 2

9 p.m. ET – Premiere of “The Last Dance” Episode 3

10 p.m. ET – Premiere of “The Last Dance” Episode 4

Sunday, May 3

7 p.m. ET – Re-air of “The Last Dance” Episode 3

8 p.m. ET – Re-air of “The Last Dance” Episode 4

9 p.m. ET – Premiere of “The Last Dance” Episode 5

10 p.m. ET – Premiere of “The Last Dance” Episode 6

Sunday, May 10

7 p.m. ET – Re-air of “The Last Dance” Episode 5

8 p.m. ET – Re-air of “The Last Dance” Episode 6

9 p.m. ET – Premiere of “The Last Dance” Episode 7

10 p.m. ET – Premiere of “The Last Dance” Episode 8

Sunday, May 17

7 p.m. ET – Re-air of “The Last Dance” Episode 7

8 p.m. ET – Re-air of “The Last Dance” Episode 8

9 p.m. ET – Premiere of “The Last Dance” Episode 9

10 p.m. ET – Premiere of “The Last Dance” Episode 10

NETFLIX (outside of the U.S.)

Monday, April 20 – 12:01 a.m. PT – “The Last Dance” Episodes 1 and 2

Monday, April 27 – 12:01 a.m. PT – “The Last Dance” Episodes 3 and 4

Monday, May 4 – 12:01 a.m. PT – “The Last Dance” Episodes 5 and 6

Monday, May 11 – 12:01 a.m. PT – “The Last Dance” Episodes 7 and 8

Monday, May 18 – 12:01 a.m. PT – “The Last Dance” Episodes 9 and 10

This is welcome news, but April 19 is still a ways off. The wait is about as long as the NBA has already been on hiatus.

In the meantime, NBC Sports Chicago has a fantastic feature on Michael Jordan’s 1995 comeback.

Knicks reportedly eyed trade for Terry Rozier before deadline

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The Knicks needed a point guard.

That was the undisputed fact heading into the last trade deadline. New York had Frank Ntilikina, Elfrid Payton, and Dennis Smith Jr. on the roster, but none of them were the lead guard the Knicks needed, which forced RJ Barrett to play more in that role, plus it was not good for the development of Kevin Knox.

We know the Knicks had targeted D’Angelo Russell at the trade deadline but didn’t have the players and picks to interest the Warriors (who eventually traded him to Minnesota for Andrew Wiggins). Now comes a report from Ian Bagley of the Knicks also targeted Charlotte’s Terry Rozier.

But prior to the news of the [new Knicks president Leon] Rose hire, there was strong support in some corners of the organization to try to acquire Charlotte guard Terry Rozier, per sources.

The framework of one deal that had internal support sent Julius Randle, Smith Jr. and a future first-round pick to Charlotte for a package that included Rozier and Malik Monk, per sources.

Randle does not appear to be part of the Knicks long-term rebuilding plans, and there have been questions about his fit next to Barrett (New York’s best young player). While Smith has potential New York was ready to move on.

However, Rozier has two years and $36.8 million guaranteed after this season, and while he can get buckets — 18 a game for the Hornets, shooting better than 40 percent from three — he would have been a stop-gap answer for the Knicks. Rozier’s play improved as last season went on as he adjusted to playing more of a two-guard role next to Devonte’ Graham, but with the Knicks Rozier would have been back on the ball. This trade would have been classic old-school Knicks move, taking on contract another team doesn’t want for a short-term fix.

What Rose and the Knicks decide to do with Randle — who is owed $38.7 million in the next two seasons and averaged 19.5 points and 9.7 rebounds a game with his bully-ball style — will be something to watch this summer. Along with seeing who gets hired as coach, it will be a sign of the kind of team Rose wants to build.

NCAA will not extend extra year of eligibility to college basketball players

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Seniors playing college basketball, who got to play most of their regular season but no conference tournaments nor the NCAA or NIT postseason tournaments, will not get to come back next season to finish off their college careers.

The NCAA announced it would not extend an extra year of eligibility to winter sports participants, which includes men’s and women’s basketball as well as ice hockey for both sexes. Athletes in spring sports, who lost their entire season (such as baseball and softball), will get that added year of eligibility. The Division I Council “members declined to extend eligibility for student-athletes in sports where all or much of their regular seasons were completed,” the NCAA said in a statement.

That decision didn’t sit well with some college hoops players.

If the NCAA had extended an extra year of eligibility it would have also had to up the scholarship limit for schools as freshmen had already committed to colleges for next year and a logjam would have been created.

This does not have a dramatic impact on the NBA Draft class because most of those chosen are underclassmen coming out early. There will be a few seniors taken — Cassius Winston of Michigan State is a first-rounder, for example — but mostly this hits players who are not NBA prospects and would have considered returning for another year of college ball.

Due to the coronavirus and the cancellation of the NCAA Tournament (plus spring sports), the NCAA Board of Governors voted last week to distribute $225 million to Division I schools in June, which is far less than the more than $600 million or more they expected to distribute.

Arizona State leading scoring Remy Martin declares for 2020 NBA Draft

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Arizona State junior Remy Martin has declared for the 2020 NBA Draft:

The six-foot point guard took on more of scoring role in his third season with the Sun Devils than he had in his first two seasons. Martin averaged 19.1 points per game on 43.2% shooting from the field. Martin also dished out 4.1 assists per game, after averaging 5.0 assists as a sophomore.

Arizona State’s leading scoring may just be testing the waters, as he’s expected to go undrafted. NBA scouts have concerns over Martin’s size at the NBA level. One concern is his ability to hold up defensively, as NBA point guards are trending bigger and bigger in recent years.

As a smaller guard, Martin was one of the players who could have benefited from the traditional pre-draft process. With in-person workouts on hold, and potentially cancelled entirely, players have limited opportunities to improve their draft stock. Teams may be drafting off previous in-person scouting and off of tape.