James Dolan unplugged — not on stage mind you — is still the best James Dolan.
Because when Dolan, the Chairman of Madison Square Garden, goes off script he’s at his most entertaining and irrational. It’s also a reminder as to why the Knicks have been the NBA’s worst and most dysfunctional franchise for nearly two decades and why things will not change anytime soon.
In a published story of run-on quotes that went both unchallenged and unchecked — (Dolan had the Knicks beating the Cleveland Cavaliers in the home finale. They lost) — Dolan hinted that Kristaps Porzingis may miss all of the 2018-19 season.
That’s called burying the lede.
Just a crazy guess, but that crucial piece of medical information was likely omitted from the sales pitch for season ticket renewals. And both Steve Mills and Scott Perry conveniently failed to mention that little doozy during their end of the season press conference.
So for any of you NBA teams out there considering trading for Kristaps — the Spurs with Kawhi Leonard perhaps — just know that the Knicks owner is claiming publicly that his All Star forward is damaged goods. Wait until Team Kristaps hears that news in Latvia.
That was an unintentional slip up from Dolan. His unnecessary shot at recently fired head coach Jeff Hornacek one week after Mills took an unnecessary shot at Hornacek sounded premeditated. Poor form to say the least.
Apparently, Hornacek doesn’t relate well with players, according to Dolan and Mills. Of course, both Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee said the exact opposite, so it’s fair to assume the opinions of those two players don’t matter.
But it gets better. Dolan then provides his authoritative view on what type of coach is successful in today’s NBA. He claims that an old style coach doesn’t work anymore. You got that Gregg Popovich? You’re a has-been. You’re washed.
You wonder how Dolan would explain Mike D’Antoni’s success in Houston. Run out of town by Dolan, the soon-to-be 67-year-old D’Antoni was last season’s Coach of the Year. His Rockets won a league-best 65 games this season.
But Dolan is going to lecture us on coaching. That’s precious.
According to a source, Dolan last season sent an email to Hornacek saying he was disappointed in him for not buying fully into the triangle offense. This took place sometime around the All Star break. So we know that as recently as last season Dolan, who loves to tell you he’s not involved, was actually pushing Phil Jackson’s offense down Hornacek’s throat in a not-so-subtle way.
Dolan had Phil’s back. And then on Wednesday, Dolan trashed Jackson for being out of touch. Man, life comes at you fast.
Dolan was using a lot of Mills’ talking points when it comes to what the Knicks are looking for in their next head coach. So Mills has Dolan’s ear.
Dolan even had this bizarre comment that neither Hornacek nor Phil Jackson understood today’s players and how they deal with management. That sounded as if Mills and Perry not only want a relationship with the players but they want to have some say in how the players are used. Things are going to get very interesting.
This coaching search, which began innocently enough, is turning into a full blown circus. ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith reported that the Knicks will interview TNT’s Kenny Smith for the head coaching position, yet Mills and Perry have shown zero interest in talking to Jeff Van Gundy, Spurs assistant Ettore Messina and Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer, who this week interviewed with Phoenix.
This isn’t a knock on Kenny Smith, but how can they justify interviewing a candidate with zero head coaching experience yet not talk to one of the league’s top assistant coaches, one of the league’s top head coaches and the last Knicks head coach with prolonged success.
But then you remember it’s the Knicks.
And then it makes all the sense in the world.