The mess surrounded Mike Miller. The Knicks president was fired. The new brand consultant effectively got rid of Miller on national television before going back on his comments. Well-known trainers were connected to the job Miller is currently doing.
But the Knicks interim coach switched everything off. He doesn't try to prove himself to the Knicks or any other organization. He only cares about one thing: he does his best for the current players of the franchise, which seems to be in turmoil forever.
"If we help these guys and keep growing and getting better, we will have done our job," said Miller. "I'm just worried that I value it and help these guys. As simple as it sounds, I've been doing it as a D-League for six years [and] G-League coach and I felt good at the end of every season. That is the direction I am going. "
It is this simple, everyday approach that seems to have worked well for Miller, who is leading an NBA team for the first time in his long coaching career. Since replacing the dismissed Knicks coach David Fizdale on December 6, Miller has led orange and blue to a record 13-20. Under Fizdale, they were a mess and won only four times in 22 games. Under Miller, the Knicks were more competitive, defensive, and aggressively coherent. Of his 20 losses, 10 were single digits. Since top scorer Marcus Morris was traded for the Clippers on February 6, the game of the Knicks has not dropped off. They are 2-2, including a double overtime loss against the Hawks.
"I don't make these decisions [about Miller getting a full-time job as an NBA coach]But from my personal point of view, he was absolutely amazing in dealing with him on a daily basis, ”said striker Julius Randle. "How he interacts with us, how he trains the game, everything. We responded very well to him and he did a great job. He just makes a few adjustments for what he thinks best and plays with the boys' strengths and things like that.
"He's never too high, never too low. We have a loss, he's not super-emotional after the game. We'll be the next day and talk about it. … He was great at it and great at making us feel good connect with each other. "
Perhaps most importantly, Miller has struck a balance at a time when there is so much uncertainty within the organization and rumors are spreading daily. Miller's focus was on the present. He wasn't fixated on what could happen across the board, and he didn't want his players to think about the unknown. He made sure that they received this message directly from him.
“What we control is today. Let us take care of today. Let's get better today, ”said Miller. "If we can do that and keep our energy in that direction, they have proven that they are successful and can help themselves."
When names appear as potential future Knicks coaches, from Tom Thibodeau to Jeff Van Gundy, and changes emerge under new president Leon Rose, 55-year-old Miller doesn't put the bait on and refuses to stand up for the job. He doesn't monitor social media. When it was suggested that the idea of keeping his job long-term was rejected, he said it was news for him. His family knows that he shouldn't bother him with the latest reports.
"I don't think it's productive for me," said Miller. “My job is right here today. For the past few days, I've been focusing on coming back and doing these two good exercises and preparing to play Indiana. Then we have two more exercises.
"It's really none of my business. My background was six years in the D-League [and] G-League and it was day after day how to make players better. I really think that this experience gave me a different perspective on how to do this job and how to do a job that brings value to an organization. I'm good at it and I feel like if we help the players we do our job and that's good enough for me. "