Report: Knicks fire Steve Mills; pursuing Raptors president Masai Ujiri

Knicks president Steve Mills, owner James Dolan and general manager Scott Perry
Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images
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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.