After the Knicks' 108-87 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers at Madison Square Garden dropped New York to 2-8 on the season, president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry conducted an unexpected postgame press conference.
Before head coach David Fizdale spoke at the podium, the two executives said that they felt an obligation to address fans for the Knicks' disappointing start 10 games into the season.
Mills and Perry repeatedly cited the Knicks' lack of effort as the reasons for concern, namely after Friday's 106-102 road win over the Dallas Mavericks (6-3) and former New York star Kristaps Porzingis provided optimism until Sunday's wire-to-wire blowout defeat against the Cavs (4-5) brought the team back down.
"Given that this is our 10th game, we felt like we had an obligation to come and speak to you guys," Mills said. "Obviously, Scott and I are not happy with where we are right now. We think the team's not performing to the level that we anticipated or we expected to perform at and that's something that we think we have to collectively do a better job of delivering the product on the floor that we said we would do at the start of this season.
"We still believe in our coaching staff, we believe in the plan that Scott and I put together and the players that we've assembled. But we also have to acknowledge that we haven't played at the level we expected to play at. We've sort of seen glimpses of how we can play as a team, when everything comes together. But we've got to find a way to play complete games at the level that we expect our team to play at and that's a responsibility that we take collectively. But I also think it's important for us to communicate to our fans that we're not happy where we are right now and we're committed to making this better. But we have to, as a group, come together and be more consistent in terms of how we play."
Mills and Perry said that they believe in Fizdale, their second-year head coach, and that the Knicks' plan has a seal of approval from owner James Dolan.
"Jim still believes in the plan that we put together, but he's passionate as we are about this," Mills said. "So he would want us to have better results on the floor as well, but I think Jim is a fan and believes in what we're doing. But he has the same expectations that we have and this is really about how we feel about what we should be doing, what we should be delivering as a group. We all take responsibility for that."
"We have patience and we believe in coach, and we believe in the group that we put together," Mills added. "But we also know that ... we need to find a way to have a consistent level of effort and execution. It has to pull itself together. It's not good enough, for us to play well enough for two quarters and then play poorly for two other quarters. What we have to do is find a way to play consistent basketball. And we believe in this group and we believe they're capable of doing it and we've just got to find a way to get them there."
Multiple SNY sources familiar with the matter said as recently as Thursday that there was no indication that any major coaching or management change was imminent. But those sources stated that nothing had been ruled out with regard an in-season front office or coaching change.
Sources told SNY that high-ranking MSG officials weren't thrilled after last Sunday's 113-92 home loss to the Sacramento Kings -- which is understandable, given the result.
It's worth noting that Mills, Perry and Fizdale all have multiple years on their deals. Mills has a double option in one of his years, which is similar to what Phil Jackson -- who signed a five-year deal for $60 million in March 2014 and was fired in June 2017 -- had as president. So both Mills and Knicks have to agree on the option.
"I don't think I put my hand on what's preventing (the consistent success)," Perry said. "I think, a lot of times, when you bring a lot of new guys together, we realize it might take some time, with guys having to learn how to play with one another. But again, as we move forward, we're going to expect to see that improve. I think the willingness is there, on the players' parts. It's just trying to figure out and adjust to playing here in New York and just playing with one another. So that's what we're going to be looking for. Again, we've been below the line, to this point. But hopefully, this next stretch of 10 games, that we'll get above that line, have more consistent results."