“Scott [Perry] has a different appreciation for Michigan kids,’’ Izzo said. “Everybody sticks up for their part of the country. You can say about Midwestern kids they have values, work ethic. Miles has all those things. He’s a really unbelievable teammate — not a selfish bone in his body. That speaks a lot in this day and age.”
Perry spoke to Izzo during the season about Miles and will again next week. Meanwhile, when new coach David Fizdale was introduced at a press conference, assistant GM Gerald Madkins was in Lansing, spending the day interviewing staff about Miles.
Mills and Perry are not only the lone African-American president of basketball operations and general manager combination in the NBA, they also lead a front office with several African-Americans in prominent positions.
“To be honest with you, it didn’t hit me until I read a story that we are the only two blacks,” said Mills, the team president. “I’m serious. It didn’t even hit me. That wasn’t what this was about. This was about me finding someone I wanted to work with that I thought approached things the same way, not that you have to be lock-step with everything, because you should bring different experiences to the table.”
“We wanted to build a good organization,” Mills said. “This is just how it mapped out as we went out and hired people. At the end of the day, if you end up with a diverse organization, that’s what should happen. It should happen naturally. At least, I feel better about it when it happens naturally.”
Assistant GM Gerald Madkins: “We just hired qualified people, honestly. The fact that we are African-American, that I have 17 years of experience, Craig Robinson is who he is and has worked with Harold before. Steve has a history in this organization. He knows guys that can work well with him and get the job done that he needs to get done to help this team get to where we all hope it ends up getting. As significant as it is that we are black, it’s more significant that we are all qualified.”
According to sources, Ntilikina’s skill as a pure point guard is something Mills and Perry have debated. Mills was part of the Phil Jackson braintrust that drafted Ntilikina eighth — ostensibly as a perfect Euro fit for the triangle offense that has been disbanded.
According to a source, Mills was adamant Ntilkina being untouchable at Feb. 8’s trade deadline. But Perry, concerned about Ntilikina’s penetrating prowess, pushed to add Mudiay.
Read the highlights below:
Say what you will about Knicks owner James Dolan, but he has not shied away from giving African-Americans the keys to his basketball kingdom. Eleven years ago, three African-Americans — Mills, Isiah Thomas and Anucha Browne Sanders — occupied Madison Square Garden’s executive suite. That arrangement ended in disaster. Browne Sanders was fired, then sued Thomas and the Garden for sexual harassment.
Today, Fizdale works with a leadership team in which Mills, the executive president of the Knicks; Perry, the Knicks’ general manager; and Craig Robinson, the vice president of player development and G League operations, are African-American. The subject wasn’t raised Tuesday, but they all know everyone is watching.
Unlike the situation with Phil Jackson, Steve Mills is working in concert with his general manager.
Mills/Perry have become basketball’s Frick and Frack.
“We work very closely together,’’ Mills said. “We work in tandem and I give Scott the flexibility of [doing] what he thinks is right.’’
Perry has consulted with Brown since acquiring point guard Emmanuel Mudiay, who nearly played for Brown at SMU before opting to play professionally for a year in China. Brown stepped down at SMU in July 2016 at age 75.
If you believe in the importance of the coach, general manager, and owner being on the same page, perhaps Woodson is an interesting candidate.
[Larry] Brown, [Mike] Woodson and Knicks general manager Scott Perry were together in Detroit in the early 2000s during glorious times for the Pistons. Perry was Detroit’s top college scout. Woodson was Brown’s assistant with the Pistons and also in Philadelphia.
“I’ve read a whole lot of qualified candidates, but I can’t imagine anyone being more qualified than Mike,’’ Brown told The Post in a phone interview.“Mike’s family to me, we speak almost daily. I have a lot of admiration for him. He’s close to Bobby Knight. I think the world of him. When he was in New York, I thought he did a really good job. The year they struggled, they lost Jason [Kidd], Rasheed [Wallace] and Kurt Thomas. Those were three older, responsible leaders and great teammates. Mike loved New York. He had a great relationship with [owner] Mr. [James] Dolan.
“And Scott Perry is great. He’s a really good guy, approachable for a coach. He’s there supporting you and pretty knowledgeable as he’s coached before. He has a great feel. I know he had a great relationship with [Woodson]. That’s always helpful. There was a culture there. Scott recognized that.’’
“The thing that separates the great teams from the struggling is management — coaches, presidents, owners are attached at the hip. To have Woody with Scott there is a pretty good formula for success.’’
Borrego, 41, is considered one of the top young assistant coaches in the NBA, and his time together with Perry with the Orlando Magic has played a part in his ability to interview for the Knicks’ job. Borrego made a strong impression on Perry in a 30-game stint as interim head coach in the 2014-15 season.
Borrego was the runner-up to Fizdale in the Memphis Grizzlies’ search process two years ago and made a strong impression on the Houston Rockets in meetings before they hired Mike D’Antoni. Borrego has turned down college head-coaching opportunities to remain on coach Gregg Popovich’s staff and pursue the chance to be an NBA head coach.
Knicks GM Scott Perry is planning to pair the European trip with a scouting side trip, sources said. The Perry-Blatt meeting will be telltale to Blatt’s candidacy. Blatt has a strong history and relationship with Knicks president Steve Mills, and Mills has been an advocate for Blatt to become the Knicks’ head coach when he worked with Phil Jackson and now Perry.
Nevertheless, Perry has no relationship with Blatt and would need to be convinced that they could work together — and that Blatt, 58, could be an asset in connecting with players and ultimately recruiting free agents to New York. Blatt’s credentials as a European coach are unmatched, and his season-plus with the Cavaliers included a 83-40 record and trip to the 2015 NBA Finals.