NBA

Was Adam Silver Secretly Trying Help Save the New York Knicks?

As NBA commissioner, Adam Silver has to keep tabs on the entire league. While that generally entails making official decisions—like responding to protests or changing the location of the All-Star Game—it also means he has to be abreast of the affairs of all 30 teams. That includes the struggling New York Knicks.

Recently, the club decided to shake up their front office by firing President Steve Mills; that meant they needed to find a new executive. Could Adam Silver have been greasing the wheels behind the scenes to help the Knicks get back on track?

The New York Knicks Finally Make a Change

Despite a dominant spell in the 1990s, the New York Knicks have fallen on hard times. The team’s front office has been unable to land a big-name free agent or build a solid squad through the draft; consequently, the on-court product has suffered. Players and coaches have come and gone but, with each passing season, the Knicks don’t seem to get any better.

On Tuesday, however, the team finally made a change. President Steve Mills was relieved of his duties, leaving general manager Scott Perry to run things in the interim. That meant owner James Dolan needed to find a new executive to shape his team’s future.

Toronto Raptors President Masai Ujiri had been linked to the Knicks all season, but there were questions over his willingness to join the dysfunctional franchise. Some suspected, though, that the club could be getting a little extra help behind the scenes.

Is Adam Silver trying to grease the wheels behind the scenes?

Normally, we think of a commissioner as a hands-off administrator overseeing the entire league. They can’t always be completely passive, though.

Adam Silver, for example, stepped in to ban Donald Sterling from the NBA following the owner’s racist comments. While no one could disagree with that intervention, other situations are less cut and dry. At the height of the Philadelphia 76ers recent struggles, the club hired Jerry Colangelo to help turn things around. Many feel that Silver and the owners pushed for a change to help the floundering franchise return to relevance; the commissioner, however, insists that he only made a simple introduction.

Some believed a similar situation was happening again, with Silver trying to help the New York Knicks get on the path to relevance. “Some league insiders also have questioned whether Dolan is as all-in on Ujiri as advertised, because of the perception in various corners that the league office (specifically N.B.A. Commissioner Adam Silver) is pushing Ujiri as the ideal candidate to try to rescue the Knicks,” wrote Marc Stein in his latest newsletter.

The Knicks apparently had eyes for someone else

In response to Marc Stein’s newsletter, the NBA stated that the speculations were “100 percent false.” Even if Adam Silver was involved, though, getting Masai Ujiri wouldn’t be easy.

It seems like all of the speculations, though, is a moot point. On Thursday afternoon, news broke that the Knicks were hammering out a deal to hire Leon Rose of Creative Artist Agency, as their president. Rose has formerly represented LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony; he currently boasts Karl-Anthony Towns and Devin Booker as clients.

Even if Adam Silver was trying to pull the strings behind the scenes, he can’t change one reality: James Dolan owns the New York Knicks and, at the end of the day, the owner usually gets what he wants.