Knicks in­tent on stick­ing to re­build­ing plan

The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT) - - PAGE 2 -

NEW YORK — Steve Mills just wanted his clothes. He ended up get­ting an ear­ful.

The man de­liv­er­ing Mills’ dry clean­ing one day this sum­mer wasn’t happy with the Knicks’ draft, and he let the team pres­i­dent know it. That’s what hap­pens in New York, home of a frus­trated fan base.

Still, Mills be­lieves fans are on board with the Knicks’ plan for pa­tience, one that seems to guar­an­tee that a 45-year drought with­out a ti­tle will last at least a few years more.

“I grew up here and I just have a dif­fer­ent point of view. I talk to a lot of fans, I talk to peo­ple on the streets all the time. I think peo­ple here will let you re­build,” Mills said.

“They will let you re­build as long as you are true to what you say, and you lay out for them what you’re go­ing to do. I just, in my gut, be­lieve New York­ers are OK with that.”

Per­haps that’s be­cause they’ve seen the Knicks try ev­ery other way, from block­buster trades to splashy sign­ings, and it hasn’t worked. So build­ing through the draft and de­vel­op­ing play­ers slowly might be the right route — even if it’s a slow road.

“We see the po­ten­tial that a lot of us play­ers have, but I mean there’s noth­ing wrong with re­build­ing,” rookie for­ward Kevin Knox said.

The No. 9 pick in June — the one the dry clean­ing de­liv­ery guy didn’t like — had a strong sum­mer and looks ca­pa­ble of be­ing one of the league’s top first-year play­ers. With the Knicks fig­ur­ing to strug­gle while All-Star Kristaps Porzingis re­mains side­lined by a torn left ACL, they could end up with an­other high pick next year. Then they should have money to sign a sig­nif­i­cant free agent, and they be­lieve an im­prove­ment in the fran­chise’s rep­u­ta­tion since Mills re­placed Phil Jack­son and hired gen­eral man­ager Scott Perry and coach David Fiz­dale will po­si­tion them to at­tract one.

“We’re not re­ally wor­ried about re­build­ing or noth­ing like that,” Knox said. “We know we have a lot of young guys, it’s go­ing to take time but that’s not go­ing to af­fect us from go­ing out ev­ery night and play­ing hard and com­pet­ing.”

Some things to watch with the Knicks:

FIERY FIZ­DALE? Fiz­dale was fired in Mem­phis last sea­son af­ter clash­ing with star cen­ter Marc Ga­sol. He said maybe he pushed too hard with a vet­eran team that he thought had a short win­dow, but he prob­a­bly will be more pa­tient with a younger team whose time isn’t now.

PA­TIENCE WITH PORZINGIS: The 7-foot-3 for­ward hurt his knee in Fe­bru­ary and nei­ther he nor the team will of­fer a timetable for when he might re­turn, say­ing only that it won’t be un­til he’s 100 per­cent sure he’s ready.

MYS­TERY MAN: The Knicks used their sec­ond-round pick on Mitchell Robin­son, who didn’t play in col­lege last sea­son, opt­ing to pre­pare for the draft. The Knicks felt they needed more ath­leti­cism and hope the 7-foot former high school All-Amer­i­can who led the Sum­mer League in blocked shots can pro­vide some.

HIGH ACHIEVERS, OR UNDERACHIEVERS? The Knicks signed Mario He­zonja and Noah Von­leh, both former top-10 picks who haven’t av­er­aged in dou­ble fig­ures in any sea­son. The Knicks had al­ready last sea­son signed Trey Burke and traded for Em­man­ual Mu­diay, also past top-10 picks who had strug­gled.

NO NOAH: A re­main­ing piece of busi­ness for the Knicks is fi­nal­iz­ing the terms of their di­vorce with Joakim Noah, who has two years left on the $72 mil­lion deal he signed in 2015. He hasn’t been with the team since clash­ing with former coach Jeff Hor­nacek last sea­son, and the Knicks have been hold­ing out hope of a trade.

Noah K. Mur­ray / As­so­ci­ated Press

Knicks for­ward Kristaps Porzingis sits on the bench dur­ing the sec­ond quar­ter of the team’s preseason game against the Nets on Oct. 3.

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