In the aftermath of firing head coach David Fizdale, the dust around the New York Knicks seems far from settling.
With a 4-18 record and a six-season playoff drought, the team could turn to a new executive to help weather the seemingly perpetual storm.
According to Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck, Knicks owner James L. Dolan is “indeed enamoured of” Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri, who has fostered a reputation in getting the most of New York in trades (more specifically, Carmelo Anthony in Denver and Andrea Bargnani in Toronto).
Beck adds that Ujiri “would be intrigued by the challenge of fixing the Knicks, the chance to build something from scratch and, not insignificantly, by the opportunity to elevate his Giants of Africa philanthropy by working in the New York market.”
It may serve as some relief to the Raptors organization that several influential NBA voices have reportedly, per Beck, advised Ujiri against leaving Toronto for the Knicks if the job is ever offered. But Beck also notes Ujiri declined a profitable extension with the Raptors in the summer in order to keep his options open, and his contract is believed to run until 2021.
A potential decision on Ujiri’s part would likely hinge heavily on how much support he gets for his Giants of Africa initiative, which has been generously funded by the Raptors’ ownership, and how much autonomy he’s granted – Dolan has become known for interfering with the Knicks’ day-to-day operations.
This isn’t the first time rumours have circulated about a rival team attempting to poach Ujiri from Toronto. Seconds after the final buzzer in the Raptors’ Game 6 win over the Golden State Warriors to capture the NBA title, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted that the Washington Wizards were preparing a multi-million offer to the Toronto president.
“For me, it’s always been about Toronto,” Ujiri said at the time. “I love it here. My family loves it here. My wife loves it here, which is important. My kids are Canadian. I want to win more… In my mind, I’m here.”
In early November, The Athletic’s Frank Isola reported that the Knicks were gearing up to “take another run” at bringing Ujiri to Madison Square Garden, and they could offer him “a king’s ransom.”
Scott Perry, the Knicks’ current GM, has been with the organization since July 2017, just three months after taking over as the Sacramento Kings VP of Basketball Operations. New York had to surrender a second-round pick and cash to Sacramento as compensation for the hire.