Despite quality results and the yet-to-be-announced new president hire, interim coach Mike Miller won’t be keeping his job as Knicks coach, according to Steve Stoute, the team’s new “branding consultant.”
In an interview with ESPN’s “First Take,” Stoute denied he was responsible for firing former team president Steve Mills, but essentially got rid of the current coaching staff on the air despite the franchise’s new power structure not yet in place.
It was so very Knicks from the man who is supposed to be rebranding the franchise’s tattered image.
“There had to be a change in [firing team president Steve Mills]. That change will bring a new coach and new coaches that are going to help develop these younger players,” Stoute said. “And they got some young players — you see RJ Barrett, Mitch Robinson. They got something to work with. And getting a coach in there and ultimately getting a coach and a coaching staff that’s going to help develop a team. That’s what I expect to happen so that we can actually get to what you expect from a New York team.
“Having a coach like that who has the magnitude and gravitas so that the media would love to talk to him and believe him, I think that’s super important.”
Less than a month ago, the Knicks hired Stoute, a former music executive who fashions himself as their Drake. On Tuesday, he began to make his presence felt.
Stoute, known for making Mary J. Blige and Nas into household names, talked a big game about making the Knicks an attractive destination for star players and insisting he will have a “loud voice” within the organization. Not loud enough to fire the interim couch, though.
An NBA source told The Post that Stoute doesn’t have a say in those top-level decisions. However, his recommendation is crystal clear regarding the coaching situation. At the time, the Knicks have yet to announce the hiring of CAA super-agent Leon Rose as Mills’ replacement, though all expectations are he will be taking over. The status of general manager Scott Perry remains uncertain.
The Knicks later released a statement Tuesday saying that Stoute “does not speak on behalf of the New York Knicks personnel and basketball operations.”
Stoute added, “I inadvertently insinuated about Knicks personnel.”
Stoute, 49, is a man of many labels. He’s spent time as a record executive, marketing guru and film producer. He’s written a book, “The Tanning of America: How Hip-Hop Created a Culture That Rewrote the Rules of the New Economy.” He reportedly worked with the Nets in rebranding their franchise and now he’s trying to help the Knicks.
“Toronto Raptors, they brought in Drake to bring that thing,” he said. “The New York Knicks brought in me.”
He is expected to rebrand the languishing franchise that is likely headed for its seventh consecutive season without reaching the postseason, the longest streak for them since the 1960s. The Knicks could obviously use a face-lift. They lost out on prized free agents Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, who opted to team up on the rival Nets rather than play for embattled owner James Dolan. It was only the latest example of star players passing on the Knicks, a trend that has included LeBron James and Dwyane Wade choosing Miami over Dolan’s team in 2010.
On Tuesday, Stoute made it clear the plan is to land such players, not rebuild through the draft.
“The biggest thing is getting free agents and players to know this is a place to show up, this is where they should be,” Stoute said. “I think that narrative has been lost. Players haven’t come, a free agent hasn’t come. And if we can solve that problem, which I know we will, we have a great chance. We’re the most iconic team in the league by far.”
Stoute stood up for Dolan, using George Steinbrenner as an example of an owner who went from despised to loved. Winning, he believes, cures all, and Stoute said he thinks he can help change the perception of the Knicks. The Knicks have advanced past the first round of the playoffs just twice this century. Dolan, often maligned as the reason for the team’s failures the last two decades, has feuded with fan favorite Charles Oakley and banned critical supporters. He’s made them into a running punch-line.
“You have a franchise that’s synonymous with the sport itself. Of course I want to do that, and I’m going to be a big part of turning it around,” Stoute said. “(There are) a lot of team owners that people dislike. It’s not about an owner. If you have an aggressive owner, somebody who’s willing to invest in the team and put money behind the belief in putting the best product on the court, to me, that’s kind of owner I want.
“There was a problem in New York with George Steinbrenner. There was a problem until they won.”
— Additional reporting by Marc Berman