“Our plan to become more youthful and athletic is underway with 22-year-old Kristaps Porzingis, the return of Tim Hardaway Jr., 25, Willy Hernangomez, 23, and with the debut of our 1st round draft pick, Frank Ntilikina, just 19,” Mills wrote in a blog on the Madison Square Garden website.
The Knicks have made it clear that they’d prefer to trade Anthony, who has a no-trade clause. The 32-year-old veteran has been willing to waive that clause, with his top priority as of earlier this month being a trade to the Houston Rockets, per league sources.
The Knicks and Rockets have been unable to come to an agreement after re-engaging on trade talks earlier this month, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Members of the Knicks organization are holding out hope that Anthony will widen his list of potential trade destinations as training camp approaches, per sources.
Mills said in July that the Knicks want to do what’s best for both the organization and for Anthony, acknowledging that the club had discussed trade scenarios involving the 10-time All-Star with other teams.
Mills also said then that the Knicks would be committed to building around a young core whether or not Anthony was on the team.
Anthony said this month that he was at “peace” with the uncertainty surrounding his situation in New York, and he was unsure if he’d be back with the club this season.
Mills wrote in his blog on Friday that the club would emphasize a selfless, defense-first approach going forward that will be led by younger players. He credited young players like Ntilikina, Porzingis and Hernangomez with recently changing the atmosphere around the Knicks, who have missed the playoffs for the past four seasons and have been the subject of embarrassing on and off-court storylines.
“We will emphasize ball movement, body movement, spacing and screening, while understanding that these changes will be a work in progress,” Mills wrote. “We may not be there at first, but that’s the brand of ball our players will aspire to fulfill.”
Mills then referenced the young group of Ntilikina, Porzingis, Haradaway Jr., Hernangomez and Ron Baker once again in his blog, writing: “These players, still young, intent on enhancing their games, engaged in a common objective, are already altering the atmosphere surrounding the club.”
In his blog, Mills echoed many of the thoughts he presented during a press conference in July introducing general manager Scott Perry. The entry is worth reading for Knicks fans interested in hearing how the new regime plans to approach team building.
Mills wrote that the Knicks would be committed to restoring “the pride, work ethic and accountability that comes with playing in New York.”
“Dogged defense. Crisp, unselfish ball movement. Scraping for loose balls. These will be our hallmarks,” he added.
It seems like a sound rebuilding plan for a franchise that has been plagued by instability since the turn of the century, winning just one playoff series in the past 17 years.
The Knicks in the past have been guilty of chasing after big names rather than committing to a slow, painful rebuild. Will the club under Mills be different? Based on what he wrote on Friday, that seems to be the plan. We’ll find out soon enough if it can be executed.