Prudent decisions have not always been the norm with the Knicks. This is the organization that Stern once said was “not a model of intelligent management.” That comment came a dozen years ago, toward the end of an ugly time in the history of the organization, when a former Garden executive, Anucha Browne Sanders, sued the Knicks and Thomas for sexual harassment, and won in court.
There is also a perception among fans and people in the league that prospective players want no part of the bungling Knicks because the team is mismanaged to a point where winning is nearly impossible. In 2015, the Knicks made offers to LaMarcus Aldridge, Greg Monroe and DeAndre Jordan, who was coming off two very productive seasons at the time, and all three signed elsewhere. The next year, the Knicks could not even get a meeting with Durant.
Now the hope is that Durant has changed his mind, perhaps convinced that he and Irving or another top free agent could be the ones to lead the Knicks to their first title since 1973. But with the Dolan wild card, hungry Knicks fans cannot be sure.
“He has cultivated an environment where N.B.A. guys don’t want to play there,” said Gary Horn, 57, a lifelong Knicks fan and screenwriter who grew up in New York and now lives in California. “But his grand flaw is that he has deputized people who don’t know how to draft young players.”
A few years ago at the Chicago predraft camp, Mills said, players and their agents told him that they did not want to join the Knicks but said the reason was more about the Knicks’ strategy under the former executive Phil Jackson.
“It was the organization, style of play, however you want to talk about it,” Mills said.
Mills added that he and Perry were working hard to change the perception of the Knicks and that David Fizdale, the coach, was a draw for both players and fans by dint of his magnetic personality.
Some fans are ready to believe the circumstances have aligned for a superteam.
“If Durant thinks playing for the Knicks is what’s best for his business and branding goals,” Jonathan Macri, a fan and founder of the Knicks Film School, a website dedicated to the team, said, “Dolan’s reputation as an unpleasant, impulsive individual isn’t going to change that.”
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