Leon Rose emerged from hiding to tell the Knicks’ in-house network that he’s “thrilled” with his roster after missing the playoffs and missing out on Donovan Mitchell.
“We went through that process (of trying to trade for Donovan Mitchell) and at the end of the day we made a decision to stay put,” Rose said on MSG Network, which is owned by James Dolan. “And we’re thrilled with where we are. Taking a look at the summer, we feel great about what transpired.”
Rose, the former agent turned Knicks president, touted his offseason spending on RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson and Jalen Brunson. The Barrett signing of four years, $107 million – which gave the 23-year-old forward the highest average salary in franchise history — was delayed until September as Rose dangled him in trade talks with the Jazz for Mitchell.
Ultimately, the Jazz traded Mitchell to the Cavs. According to sources, a big hang up in negotiations was over protected draft picks. The Jazz wanted more from the Knicks. Barrett, a Toronto native, sat out Team Canada games this summer while awaiting his contract extension.
He became the first Knick first-round draft pick to re-sign off his rookie deal since Charlie Ward in 1999.
“One of our main goals has been to create internal stability. Signed RJ Barrett. First extension of a player since Charlie Ward,” Rose said. “We retained Mitchell Robinson (for four years, $60 million). He’s a player who has developed the last few years and we feel very fortunate that we were able to keep him. We got the No. 1 point guard in free agency this summer in Jalen Brunson (for four years, $104 million). So we feel really good about the summer.”
Despite his bullish attitude about the summer, Rose coveted Mitchell and pushed hard for the All-Star. Mitchell thought he was headed to New York and hinted there’s more to the story. Some members of the Knicks thought they offered a better package than the Cavs and were skeptical they were given a fair chance to land Mitchell.
“Very close. I won’t say more than that,” Mitchell told ESPN. “I know a little bit more than most. But very close.”
Jazz GM Justin Zanik said they took the “best offer.”
”It was the best offer,” Zanik said. “I think for (the Cavs) it was an opportunity to add to their team to open up a window with Donovan. To get a good return you’ve got to give up something good as well. They certainly gave up a lot.”
Rose again referenced his 11 first-round picks over the next seven years, which were maintained by not trading for Mitchell.
“By not making a move, we are flush with draft capital which you know is great currency in the market,” Rose said. “And something that will help us get better as we move forward.”
By only speaking to the team’s in-house network, Rose continued the team’s boycott of outside media. It’s a policy dictated by Dolan and only broken up by league-mandated availabilities. Rose is never mandated to speak to the media but held a session with beat reporters a year ago near the peak of his tenure, not long after the Knicks exceeded expectations by finishing fourth in the East in 2021.
He hasn’t spoken to outside media since. The Knicks, perhaps not coincidentally, were a disappointment last season while finishing 11th in the East.
The Knicks released preview clips of its interview with Rose on the team’s Twitter account. He also lauded the signing of Brunson, whose father, Rick, is a close family friend of Rose.
”He fills one of the biggest voids that we have. The starting point guard,” Rose said. “That is such an important role on our team. We needed that person that was going stabilize us.”
Rick was hired by the Knicks as an assistant coach in the offseason. He hasn’t been in the NBA since resigning as the Timberwolves assistant in 2018 amid allegations of improper conduct with women. In 2014, Brunson was found not guilty of sexually abusing a masseuse while serving as a Bulls assistant coach.
The Knicks have neither commented about nor announced Rick Brunson’s hiring, although he’s listed on the team’s website.