At least one of the Knicks’ nightmares is over. The Knicks have found their Phil Jackson replacement in Scott Perry, the Kings’ vice president of basketball operations of 83 days. According to Adrian Wojnarowski on Friday, Perry has agreed to a five-year contract to become the new Knicks GM, and the Kings will be getting a second-round pick and cash considerations in return.
New York has been floundering under Phil Jackson’s leadership for years now. Whether it was a hopeless attempt to install the triangle offense, Derek Fisher’s disastrous tenure, or the bizarre trade rumors surrounding star unicorn Kristaps Porzingis, the Knicks have been a mess. Now Perry will head to New York, but his job description remains exactly the same: save a team from its burning infrastructure.
Last summer, the Kings couldn’t get a talented player to even meet with them. "It’s the most dysfunctional team in the NBA," one agent told Chad Ford in May 2016. "It would be malpractice to send one of my clients there." Though Sacramento held the eighth pick in the 2016 NBA draft, no top prospect would work out with the team — the best player to have even stopped by for a visit was Wade Baldwin IV, who was drafted with the no. 17 pick by the Memphis Grizzlies. This year looked like it could be more of the same, with another Ford report indicating an agent was going to withhold his players from working out with the Kings. (In fact, the quotes given were suspiciously similar — what agent has a bone to pick with Vlade Divac?)
But that didn’t happen. The Kings saw workouts with every player they drafted in 2017, and also got time in the gym with other top talents like Josh Jackson, Donovan Mitchell, and Zach Collins. Heck, they almost got a workout with Markelle Fultz. They won the draft. And when free agency rolled around, the Kings sent Otto Porter Jr. a $100 million offer sheet before signing George Hill and Zach Randolph. Hill is a better player than anyone the team signed last season, and the franchise normally doesn’t even get in the room with a guy seeking a max contract like Porter was.
The difference, by all accounts, has reportedly been the presence of Scott Perry, whom the Kings hired as their executive vice president of basketball operations in April. According to Sacramento Bee beat writer Jason Jones, "Perry was tasked with helping repair the Kings’ relationships around the league and shifting from a reputation of dysfunction." He appears to have done that — this is easily the best offseason the Kings have had in the Vivek Ranadivé era, and while Sacramento would obviously like to keep Perry aboard, the Knicks’ GM job is reportedly a dream gig for him.
The Knicks have been eerily Kingsian over the last few years, and their wishy-washy handling of the Carmelo Anthony drama mirrors Sacramento’s mishandling of the DeMarcus Cousins trade at the All-Star break last season. Perry may not have been there to watch Cousins get walked out the door, but he cleaned up the mess in record time.
Last year the Kings picked up mostly washed free agents in Ty Lawson, Garrett Temple, and Arron Afflalo. The year before they grabbed Rajon Rondo, Marco Belinelli, and Kosta Koufos, and the former two lasted only one season with the team. Though Hill, Randolph, and Vince Carter are an odd bunch, those signings are easily the best group during Divac’s tenure, and all are on short deals. Those are the types of signings that would be good for a Knicks rebuild, and stand in stark contrast to what New York has been doing: giving Tim Hardaway Jr. $71 million a year after handing Joakim Noah $72 million. A more frugal approach to free agency could serve New York well.
Perry has been in league front offices for nearly 20 years, though this will be his first time as a general manager. But his connections and relationships around the NBA proved invaluable for the Kings, even though he was on the job for less than three months. His skill set could prove perfect for the Knicks, because guess which franchise was the least desirable this summer?
Perry will have his work cut out for him. The first challenge on the table in New York: figuring out what to do with Carmelo Anthony.