Knicks owner James Dolan is in a hurry.
According to an NBA source, Dolan fired President Steve Mills two days before the close of trading so that he could examine and interview presidential candidates without having to do so in secret.
The source said Dolan had no plans to extend Mills' post-season option and wanted to jump into the interviewing process without media coverage of Mills in power.
Why the hurry? The theory is that Dolan wanted a boss at the end of the season so that he could lead a coaching hunt. Dolan hired branding consultant Steve Stoute to help with the search.
The switch was still at a bizarre time – two days before the close on Thursday.
Mills negotiated with the teams until Monday, and according to the source, there are several packages that incumbent Knicks President Scott Perry can work on.
According to the source, trading with Marcus Morris against a collection of assets and trading with Golden State against Point Guard D’Angelo Russell are still on the table.
Dolan's rapid pace does not seem to be a good sign of the candidacy of Raptor's President Masai Ujiri, who is at the top of the owner's wish list.
According to a source, Dolan was suspicious of Ujiri, who used the Knicks as a lever for Toronto, given the amount of publicity he received as a candidate.
Ujiri's contract expires in 2021 and the Raptors have the right to deny the Knicks permission to speak to him now. After Phil Jackson's dismissal, Dolan called Toronto in 2017 and learned that a substantial draft compensation would be required. So Dolan continued.
According to the source, Dolan worships loyalty and is still not particularly keen on getting Ujiri to break his contract, and requires the Knicks to give up at least one first-round choice.
This could lead to a scenario where Dolan is now hiring a manager and waiting a year for Ujiri to become a freelance agent. The Raptors reportedly declined to comment when asked if the Knicks had spoken to Ujiri.
During training on Wednesday, Knicks interim coach Mike Miller, whose status is still unclear, thanked Mills for being appointed G League coach in 2014 and promoted to David Fizdale's NBA coach last summer.
"Let me say this: First of all, I really want to thank Steve for everything," said Miller. “When I was hired here five years ago to work for the Westchester Knicks, my last interview was with Steve and I had the opportunity to speak to him. In my five years here, I enjoyed working with him. He helped me a lot and gave me the opportunity to develop and grow professionally within this organization. So I appreciate everything Steve did. "
Acting President Perry turned to the club before the training began. Perry didn't speak to the media when he was working on the phones.