Evan Roberts: Free Agency Failures The Reason Knicks Fired Steve Mills

Team Missed Out On Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving Last Summer

Joe & Evan
February 04, 2020 - 3:12 pm

The New York Knicks fired team president Steve Mills on Tuesday afternoon. He started as Knicks general manager back in 2013 and was promoted from GM to president of basketball operations after Phil Jackson's departure in the summer of 2017.

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GM Scott Perry will take over as president in the interim. Since 2013, the Knicks are 178-365, the worst record of any NBA team in that span.

After the news broke, Evan Roberts and Kim Jones (filling in for Joe Benigno) reacted to the most recent Knicks firing news. Head coach David Fizdale was fired back in December after a  4-18 start to the 2019-20 season.

"When the Knicks lost out on free agents, ultimately that's why Steve Mills doesn't have a job today...the timing isnt ideal," Roberts explained. "The reason why this makes sense is if his thought process was I've gotta get wins to impress this owner so I'm going to make a trade at the detriment of the assets I have, then youve gotta get rid of him. Joe and I would talk about this. Don't do anything stupid. It's important that you have someone over the next 48 hours that put you in an even better position to build this roster long term."

Naturally, rumors are swirling about who the team may target to take over in Mills' role. Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri is reportedly the top target for Jim Dolan and the Knicks.

But, as ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reports, the team is reluctant to give up the draft capital necessary to make a trade happen for Ujiri.

"Masai Ujiri is a great target to have because he's a hell of an executive," Roberts explains. "If he does become executive, its not going to happen in the next two days. Sam Presti would be a great target. Not happening in the next 48 hours... what is so important is that the Knicks turn Marcus Morris into an asset... they've hit the lottery. The guy is having a tremendous season. He singlehandedly willed the Knicks back last night. You want the ball in his hands in the last few mins and every contender wants Marcus Morris... theres no excuse.

"You can also pull a [Aroldis> Chapman and resign him if you really do want him part of the team moving forward," Jones said, filling in for Benigno, whose on vacation this week. "It's not like they trade him now and hes never coming back."

Under Mills, the Knicks went 29-53 in 2017-18, and 17-65 last season. The team is currently 15-36, the third-worst record in the Eastern Conference. 

Roberts explained: "You know what the happiest days are for Knicks fans, when they fire an incompetent general manager, team president or head coach and that's gotta change ... the most exciting day should be when things that are happening are good."

SNY's Ian Begley reported that Austin Brown, a top agent with CAA, is being considered for the Knicks job.

"When a season just ends with the Super Bowl and it feels like the Giants and Jets season ended about six months ago, its a really bad feeling and that's the cycle those teams have gotten into also," Jones responded. "We are now celebrating getting rid of and saying goodbye without even really knowing who we're saying hello to. It's just the point of bye!"

The Knicks traded star big man Kristaps Porzingis back in January in order to clear cap space for max free agents like Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. The team ended up striking out on signing any marquee names this past summer, an alarming trend that has been the status-quo at Madison Square Garden for several years now.

"Every one of our fanbases except the Yankees, we've celebrated guys getting fired because guys are bad at their jobs," Roberts said. "The Knicks have done it for 20+ years in a way that is unrivaled."

Click on the audio player above to listen to the full segment from Tuesday's "Joe & Evan" show.