How big of a role will Leon Rose’s connections play for the Knicks this offseason?
For years now, the narrative thrown about regarding the New York Knicks acquiring superstars has revolved around them playing winning basketball. That, and James Dolan selling the team. Once it was realized that just isn’t going to happen, the media circled back to winning attracting stars.
New York achieved a bit of that this year as they raced to a 41-31 season and the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference. The record is there and stability appears to have been maintained with Tom Thibodeau as head coach just one year in. That alone though, may still not be enough. What could push the Knicks over the top in the pursuit of a superstar this summer is the presence of team president Leon Rose.
Rose’s connections as a former agent are widely known as he has represented Chris Paul, Karl-Anthony Towns, Devin Booker, Joel Embiid and countless others at different points throughout their career. Now, he’s the one steering the ship in the front office for the Knicks. So, how big of a role will Leon Rose’s connections play for New York this offseason?
The relationships between player and agent or player and front office are largely sustained over time based off trust. Leon Rose has been widely praised by former players he represented before taking his role with the Knicks for just that; trust.
“I think with Leon — who I know personally — things are going to trend upward. I love Leon to death,” Mitchell said. “He’s a great dude, great person and a really good businessman. So I think they’re going to start going in the right direction when he gets in there.” – Donovan Mitchell via New York Daily News.
“One of the most genuine guys I know. One of the most honest guys I know. So I’m happy for him in his new position. I think the Knicks are in really good hands.” – Devin Booker via the New York Post.
“Leon is my guy,” Embiid said. “He’s like family to me. When I heard the news I was happy for him. He’s cool. Being an agent for such a long time and getting a GM or a president job I think is amazing. I’m so happy for him. I’m sure he’ll do a good job over there. I think he’s a great human being.” – Joel Embiid via the New York Post.
Those sort of relationships and that sort of standing that Rose has league wide will only enhance the Knicks’ chances. The 41-31 season did nothing but help New York’s cause, having Rose might be even more important entering this summer.
It’s not a make or break summer for the Knicks, but they need to build off of last year and that starts with getting a scoring point guard or just giving the position a facelift in general.
Chris Paul’s name has been floated about as a possibility for the Knicks if he opts out and looks elsewhere outside of Phoenix. Rose once represented Paul and the two are super close. If it comes down to two teams offering the same dollar amount, the same length of contract, that’s where Rose’s past as an agent for many can be a trump card in getting a superstar back to New York.
If the Knicks try to dive in or at least flirt with the idea of going the “disgruntled superstar” route, one name to keep tabs on is Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell and the Jazz couldn’t outlast a Clippers team that didn’t have Kawhi Leonard in a season where Utah posted the best record in basketball. Their roster was loaded but doubt has to be looming after their underwhelming postseason exit again. Enter, Leon Rose.
Mitchell loves Rose and if he were either this season or next season to go the avenue of demanding a trade, the Knicks would certainly be assumed to be at the top of the list. Rose is a big reason why.
The Knicks have a perfect blend entering this offseason. Gone are the headlines of doom and gloom with James Dolan owning the team. Now, the talks are far more optimistic.
It’s a team coming off a playoff appearance for the first time since 2013. There’s plenty of young talent on the team with RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley, Obi Toppin and Mitchell Robinson. Thibodeau came in year one and established a culture predicated on defense and three-point shooting and the players bought in. And they have a team president that many stars would love to play for in the Mecca of basketball.
It should be an exciting offseason for the Knicks as Leon Rose pulls the strings from behind the scenes and tries to put New York in an even better position entering the 2021 season.