Retaining Scott Perry is not apocalyptic, but rather reasonable

The Knicks exercised their mutual team option to retain Scott Perry as the team’s General Manager through the 2020-21 season. The Knicks had until Friday May 1st to exercise the team option. Upon reading Steve Popper’s tweet, Knicks Twitter1 went on a rant dismissing the move, including our fellow KFS dean Mr. Jonathan Macri.2

When the smoke dissipates and the hot takes cool down, fans will learn that this move actually makes sense in the times of COVID-19. It’s an overall low risk move that allows Leon Rose some wiggle room to better evaluate the front office personnel under a different directive from previous regimes. Despite what people may believe, Perry does provide the experience that Rose lacks and can help bridge the transition from the end of the regular season into the NBA Draft and Free Agency. These characteristics are quite akin to what some NBA and Knick personalities saw when lauding a couple of the hires in the Windy City. But alas, doubters will always doubt.

I’ll try to quell many of these doubts below:

1: We should have hired a legitimate GM. Perry was a terrible GM, he hates Frank Ntilikina…..

Sure, I’m not the biggest Scott Perry fan. I’ve questioned his allegiance to certain players from previous experiences (see: Burke, Trey; Hezonja, Mario; Payton, Elfrid) and I’m not his biggest fan of the moves he was a part of in the summer of 2019. I do wish he spent some resources evaluating the international player market (both in the draft and free agency), but it’s not like we’ve always fared well there. (see: Bootum’s doppleganger, Kevin Seraphin, Willy Hernangomez). Sure, Perry’s not the biggest Frank Ntilikina fan, but he’s survived here through nearly a dozen trade rumors so that must say something.

To keep it real, none of the above matters because we’re living in the COVID-19 era. As New York Governor Andrew Cuomo often mentions in his daily press briefings, we are living in a “new normal” and we have to think outside the box because there’s “no box.” If we were in normal times, perhaps Leon Rose would have spent time actively looking for a new GM. In reality, this is not possible.

Barring any changes, the NBA Draft will be held on June 25th. Without the NBA Draft Combine and March Madness, teams will need to rely on any scouting reports on games played before March 15th (ballpark date). It’s even more imperative for a new POBO, like Rose, to keep continuity because it will enable him to best leverage his resources to make the right picks in the upcoming draft.

Part of keeping continuity is retaining the General Manager responsible for overseeing that process. Despite what people may think, Perry indeed was the GM for the past 3 seasons and knows what it takes to work within his role on a day-to-day basis. The vast experience is a perfect complement to Rose, who specifically lacks that trait.

Without a full-functioning staff, Rose won’t have the tools he needs to make these draft selections. The 2020 Draft is important because we have 3 picks, a lottery pick, a late 1st round pick, and an early 2nd round pick. While we can perhaps pick best player available with the lottery pick, we’ll need to rely on our scouting reports with the other two picks. Additionally, Leon Rose might want to consolidate the late 1st & the early 2nd round pick. We probably would want an experienced GM to navigate these options. Perry has handled the last 2 drafts; he might be best equipped to handle a third.

But alas…..

2: We didn’t do all our due diligence hiring the best person for the role….

As a disclaimer, without actually working in a front office, we really don’t know what happens behind the scenes. Sure, there are plenty of great reporters on the Knicks beat (including Macri himself) that provide us with plenty of great scoops, but that’s also a very narrow perspective at times. No one really knows who the Knicks talk to or interview because teams aren’t required to publish that information in real-time.

Everyone will mention how the team in the Windy City reshaped their entire front office. That’s a fair point, but just because the Bulls executed that doesn’t mean the Knicks, or any other team, have to, or are able to, do the same. I’m a bit hesitant anointing Marc Eversley, the man involved in picking Primo Pasta with the #1 overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft, as a smart hire. The biggest mistake is reshuffling to reshuffle; the equivalent of musical chairs.3 When Leon Rose was hired, fans criticized the Knicks for rushing the process? With the May 1st deadline imminent, don’t we think it’s best to take our time to evaluate before rushing into a decision?

Everyone will mention the various Assistant GMs of other organizations. Guys like Mike Zarren, Troy Weaver, and Mark Hughes probably ring a bell. Outside of the fact that Zarren’s not leaving Boston and the latter two (Hughes was a former Director of Player Personnel for the Knicks) are looking for clear upgrades, those moves are just not realistic. The Knicks already hired Brock Aller as Rose’s chief of staff. Perry’s the third man in the pecking order. It’s worth remembering, though, that Perry was supposedly heralded as one of those up-and-coming executives when the Knicks hired him back in 2017.

Look, COVID-19 significantly impacted business operations. It’s forced many-a-companies to restrict spending while operations remain ceased. Not that I sympathize with billion dollar organizations such as sports teams, but even the Knicks have to curtail spending and might be restricted from expending a lot of money hiring top-flight candidates or doing any proper due diligence in making a long-term hire. The safest move might just be retaining Perry for one more season and hope business operations get closer to normal by 2021. Maybe we should let things marinate for a while before rushing to judgment.

But alas:

3: Perry should remain on the team, but in a different capacity:

Umm, there are several questions here:

  • What makes you think Perry will accept a demotion? In reality, if one of us were in Perry’s shoes, I don’t think we’d accept a demotion either. Also, do you trust someone who’s been demoted into a lower capacity to provide the framework for sound personnel decisions?
  • What happens when you can’t find a GM?
  • If 2) becomes reality, do you trust an inexperienced POBO to make important draft selections?

I’ll also let these questions marinate for the readers. But alas….

4: Perry’s a part of the disastrous Steve Mills regime. He’s equally culpable for the terrible moves in the past and we should clean house

Yes, Perry was an integral part of the Steve Mills era. Yes, we lost a lot of games and made some questionable moves along the way. However, if our motto is to clean house every time we hire a new front office, how do teams maintain any stability? Additionally, it’s not good business doing so. If we were to apply this same logic across our history, Jeff Van Gundy would never be on our roster. Van Gundy survived the Stu Jackson, John MacLeod, Pat Riley, and Don Nelson eras. In 2020, he’d be considered the “mole” of the organization – the new “Herb Williams.” ESPN “cap guru4” Bobby Marks survived multiple bad Nets teams and was not removed from the organization until “budget cuts” hit in 2015. Let’s let Leon evaluate his personnel before making any big decisions.

Furthermore, people were saying before that Mills bore responsibility for all the bad decisions over the past 3 seasons. Those same people said Perry wasn’t involved in all of the bad deals. Sounds a bit hypocritical, no? Perhaps we really don’t know what goes on behind the scenes.

Even with the terrible moves of the past 3 years, the Knicks have the most young players ever in franchise history and retain every 1st round pick going forward. Their biggest asset heading into 2020 may be the extra cap flexibility within a salary cap that’ll potentially be reduced going forward.

But alas…..

5: Perry will sabotage the team next season while on a one-year deal:

This is probably the funniest assertion of everything I’ve heard. First, any move Perry pursues will line up with Rose’s vision of the team. Any deals to sign vets will be in concurrence with Rose’s direction. Blaming Perry for those moves would be very shortsighted. I can assure Knicks fans that Perry will not sabotage the team between now and the end of the 2020-21 season.

And alas…..

6: Our draft prep is complete. Why not search for a new GM?

Draft preparation ceases once the NBA Draft ends. There are a lot of components involved before drafting players. These components include scouting, interviews with prospects, interviews with former coaches and family members, and contacting agents & other front offices for trade opportunities. The process commences early on each season and often evolves up until draft day.

Conclusion:

Overall, it’s not time to act in a doom-and-gloom manner over the Knicks retaining Perry for one more season. Instead, look at this as a safe and reasonable option for the team to re-evaluate him and the staff as we, as a society, try to re-navigate into normalcy. Until then, let’s refocus our energy on more pressing issues in life.

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