At this point, what is there to even say about the way the New York Knicks go about their business. It's a complete disaster, from the top down, and has been for what feels like a lifetime. And just when you think it can't get any worse, it does.
In their first game since the firing of professional scapegoat David Fizdale, the Knicks put up a good fight on Saturday, losing to the Pacers, a good team, 104-103. Julius Randle missed the would-be tying free throw with .01 seconds left.
So the game ends and the players leave the court, go to the locker room, shower, talk to the media, all normal postgame business. But you know who wasn't around to answer any questions one day after a franchise-altering move? Knicks president Steve Mills and/or general manager Scott Perry. They didn't show their faces before the game, either.
This is everything you need to know about how the Knicks operate and why they continue to be a laughingstock. This isn't even about basketball. This is about integrity. Professionalism. It's about the face that you're putting on your franchise either being a stand-up one or a hide-in-the-corner one. If you're going to fire a coach for "underachieving" with the dumpy roster you built for him, at least have the nerve to address the situation in a timely and halfway accountable manner.
If you're going to make the argument that executives often don't address the media, particularly in postgame settings, or that they are under no obligation to do so, you would be right. But have at least a shred of self-awareness, man. Understand the optics. The context. Understand how this looks for a couple of executives who had no problem calling an impromptu press conference -- yes, after a game -- to throw Fizdale under the bus 10 games into the season.
That's not exactly standard procedure for executives, either.
In other words, when Mills and Perry need to take the stink off themselves (or at least try), they're all for standing up in front of the media and talking their heads off about needing to see "progress." But show me one example of Mills and/or Perry being better at what they do now than they were two years ago. Or three years ago. Or four years ago. Where, exactly, is their progress?
Mills and Perry calling that press conference out of the blue back on Nov. 10 was such a slimy move. If you don't want the guy, then fire him. Or don't hire him in the first place. But do it with some integrity. That press conference served no purpose other than to get their side of the story out in the open. A press conference on Saturday, either before the game or after, would have had a purpose, however. You make the decision, you answer the questions. That's what big boys do.
Instead, players are getting asked to answer for their bosses.
And then you have this:
Poor R.J. Barrett, man. The guy is 19 years old and he's being asked about situations his bosses refuse to take off his and all the other players' plate. This is how he thinks the NBA is supposed to operate.
The fact that Mills or Perry don't think they need to stand up and be the face of this thing, well, again tells you everything you need to know about the Knicks. This is how they do business. It all comes back to James Dolan, of course. He's the owner. The way this guy does his business, nobody would be surprised if he directed Mills and Perry to hide their faces.
Either way, Dolan is the one who directly empowers this type of management, which has shown basically no ability to perform the fundamental duty of their job in putting together a good basketball team, even when they have huge money and the supposedly huge draw of New York to fall back on. How coaches keep getting fired while these two keep their jobs is baffling. Even for the Knicks.
Again, they had enough money to sign two max players this summer. When they didn't get those max players, they could have gone after even more really good players, maybe three or four of them, even if they had to overpay a bit to compensate for the fact that very few players who have other options would actually choose the Knicks these days.
Fact is, the Knicks had more than enough money to sign both Malcolm Brogdon and Bojan Bogdanovic, just as an example. I'm not saying that would've been the best move, or even that they could've gotten those guys to begin with, but if you want to be a good team you have to try to get, you know, good players.
You can't sign Elfrid Payton, Taj Gibson and Julius Randle without any sort of structure around them and think you're going to win. That's insane. But that's the Knicks. They said they wanted to save their money for future summers, because you just know they think they have an actual shot at someone like Giannis Antetokounmpo. And that's fine. It's not necessarily a bad long-term strategy. But then you have to have your short-term expectations in line.
This is all basic logic, which the Knicks continue to lack. And now we can add "basic business decency and accountability" to the Knicks' running list of missing virtues. Personally, I don't know if Fizdale was the right guy for the job. That's not my job to know. What I do know is that Perry and Mills sure as heck believed he was the right coach when they gave him a four-year contract less than two years ago. They have the right to change their mind on that.
But they should also at least have the professionalism to get up in front of the cameras and explain themselves when they no longer have any PR game to win. And it's too late now. The window of respect has closed. They might call a press conference Sunday or Monday or Tuesday or whenever. That's not going to cut it. The questions are already being asked, and in the absence of leadership, people will come to their own conclusions.
Really, can you blame them?