There was no song and dance in Las Vegas from Knicks coach David Fizdale. Nor were there any remarks from Knicks president Steve Mills or general manager Scott Perry.
None of the trio was made available to the media during the NBA Summer League, which will end with a consolation game Saturday night versus the Wizards.
“They’re holding me hostage,” Fizdale said, when asked why he has been mum.
When can he be expected to comment?
“When they turn me loose,” he said.
The company spin will have to wait — maybe until the late-September start of training camp, which will be filled with position battles. The Knicks weren’t ready to face the music after losing out on Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant to the Nets, on Kawhi Leonard to the Clippers and on Kemba Walker to the rival Celtics.
One theory to explain the media boycott is that Knicks brass believes it had spoken plenty in the months leading up to free agency and none of the bombast came true. Now it’s time to win, not talk.
This was promoted as the most important free agency in recent Knicks history and, on the surface, it turned into a bust. There won’t be a press conference to announce the signings they did make, which is telling.
According to sources, Knicks brass were so confident in February about landing two big fish with their $70 million in cap space, the team was doing due diligence on a countless number of fringe players who could be signed for the minimum.
If the Durant-Irving exacta had hit, the Knicks would have been bereft of cap space with a handful of roster spots to fill for minimum-wage players.
When it ended with Thursday’s one-year, $14.8 million agreement with forward Marcus Morris, the Knicks had brought on seven free agents — none of their own — to turn them into arguably the NBA’s deepest team.
Depth, however, doesn’t mean the Knicks will be a playoff contender, though that is the goal for the newly silent administration.
When shooting guard Reggie Bullock, who has lingering plantar fasciitis, reworks his deal soon to get part of the $4.8 million room exception, the Knicks will have 15 guys capable of being in an NBA rotation.
Fizdale has his work cut out for him in figuring out the starters and rotation that probably has to be 11 strong.
There may be public pressure to start No. 3-overall draft pick RJ Barrett at shooting guard, but his efficiency and shooting in summer league play left a lot to be desired.
There may be pressure to start 2018 lottery pick Kevin Knox at small forward, but his inefficiency last season partly led to the Knicks’ league-worst 17-65 record. And Morris, a small forward, didn’t break his agreement with the Spurs to come off the bench.
Unlike last season, Fizdale is expected to get this new roster — after $70 million in additions — into a playoff race. The Knicks haven’t made the playoffs for six straight seasons and have been out of the race by March 1 the past five years.
Perry is tired of losing and will not put up with another perceived tank. According to a source, the GM believes deep down that part of developing a culture is winning, and “institutionalized losing” doesn’t help a franchise in the long run.
The organization realizes last season’s record was not ignored by star free agents, that the Knicks’ brand wasn’t good enough to sell itself. Fizdale never even got a chance to sell his program face-to-face with Irving, Durant, Leonard and Walker.
During the stay in Vegas, Fizdale had chances to promote the 2019-20 Knicks as a potential playoff force with an abundance of new proven talent — led by power-forward scoring beast, Julius Randle. He could have lifted the morale of a confused fan base.
Maybe Mills and Perry will pen another web letter this summer for Knicks season-ticket holders. The last one, in early April, stated: “We can honestly say that the future of the New York Knicks is extremely bright.’’
It’s too bad Fizdale didn’t get the chance to talk up the signings, because waxing on for the media was what he did best in 2018-19.
In 2019-20, Fizdale will be asked to coach a team to wins, too.
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