The Manhattan skyline loomed in the background Wednesday when Leon Rose made his first public remarks as Knicks president.
Though Rose spoke on Zoom in a controlled environment as Mike Breen’s guest on MSG Network, it was a positive segment and sign the former superagent is embracing this brand-new vocation.
While Rose’s wife and son arranged his virtual background, Rose’s presidency was not smoke and mirrors.
Thursday will mark the four-month mark of Rose running the Knicks and developing into a job after a prior life as a top agent at the Creative Artists Agency.
The Cherry Hill, N.J., product has built a wide-ranging, diverse front office even while keeping Scott Perry as a GM / safety net. Rose is conducting a patient coaching search with Tom Thibodeau as the lead candidate, but he is keeping the opportunity of culling intel from 10 other candidates – five with no NBA head-coaching experience.
Call this movie “Rose’s Eleven.” The new prez wants to hear as many “philosophies” and “mind sets” as possible. No competitor other than Chicago, which is also excluded from the Orlando restart, for the candidates. And the Bulls voluntarily bring back Thibodeau.
Wearing a blue Knicks polo shirt, Rose said, “For me personally, this is educational. I need to make sure we go through this process by dotting every ‘I’ and crossing every ‘T’ to make the right decision. ”
Knicks owner James Dolan took a gamble on Rose, eschewing a pursuit of the league’s top-notch proven executive director Masai Ujiri, even if it was when he became a free agent following the 2020-21 season.
Primarily, Dolan added Rose because of his player and coaching connections. Dolan is still reeling from Rose’s 2010 gambit of aligning LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. The hope is Rose will draw marquee free agents – something former president Steve Mills failed to do.
League executives believe Rose has done well in surrounding herself with a strong team of advisors. Dolan, despite the pandemic economic crisis, has again shown a willingness to shell out money to aid Rose.
“Leon thinks it’s the smartest person in the room,” one executive said. “Everyone surrounding himself with smart people. ”
It started with stealing Cleveland’s cap guru and owner Dan Gilbert’s right-hand man, Brock Aller. It continued with throwing money at one of the NBA’s most revered college scouts in the Utah Perrin, making him an assistant GM. Newcomer Frank Zanin, assistant GM of pro scouting, is well-regarded, too.
Officially adding Rose’s longtime crony William Wesley should help change a Knicks image that Dolan realizes needs fixing.
The past 13 years, Wesley has been a CAA consultant and worked closely with Thibodeau, who will have a solid support system if and when hired in mid-to-late July.
“This business is built on relationships and how you treat people,” Rose said. “The common built on characteristics Wes possesses. Getting someone of that stature and character into our organization is something that will benefit us greatly.
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“We will work as hard as we can to show people this is a place you want to be at,” Rose added. “We have the greatest city in the world, an iconic arena. We just need to create a culture that people want to be part of. ”
During the transactional window caused by the pandemic last week, Rose gave a peek at the type of player he seeks. Rose got rid of former rookie revelation Allonzo Trier, talented but selfish on the court. It was time for “Iso Zo ” to go.
In Rose’s first acquisitions, the Knicks will look at Jared Harper, an undrafted Auburn product who has untapped potential as a scoring point guard, and ex-Net Theo Pinson, a sound locker-room presence.
“The talent obviously is always of paramount importance,” Rose said. “Beyond the talent, glance looking at the character. Looking at who the person is and looking at how the fit is. One of the things I always believed as an agent was I represented the client and the client represented me. Decisions were made based on that with whom we got involved. “
While Rose lamented not getting a chance to evaluate more of his players when the Knicks season ended March 11, he benefited from the draft being pushed to Oct. 15.
“In a positive light, there’s a lot more time,” Rose said. “We were preparing as if we were drafting June 25.”
Rose offered an interesting nugget about his transition from agent to president – an indication less about ego than Phil Jackson and Mills.
“It’s funny, ‘” Rose said. “We relied upon our relationship with NBA scouts. Here I am sitting on the other side of the fence relying on the same people but within our organization. “
As an agent, Rose’s Knicks dealings result in many hits. Rose engineered the Eddy Curry trade in 2005 that backfired. The 2011 Carmelo Anthony blockbuster will always be second-guessed. In 2013, Rose pushed for his client Andrea Bargnani as a spacer floor for Anthony. The Knicks got fleeced in that one, too.
You’re in the past. In four months, Rose has been batting average in orange and blue that is climbing.