Leon Rose, who works a well-paying job with no prior experience, may raise his hand first at the Thanksgiving table.
There are many people, places and things that deserve his gratitude. For example, Rose might thank:
1) James Dolan
Whatever the reason, the Knicks owner feels more than comfortable with Creative Artists Agency. Hence Rose, the former CAA agent, who ran the Knicks’ basketball operations while helping many former CAA clients and friends get on the staff payroll.
2) The media policy of the garden
Rose, who didn’t seem too comfortable in front of a microphone, can function without the burden of public accountability since he never has to address the media. It’s been 15+ months since Rose spoke to independent reporters. He leaves all questions to coach Tom Thibodeau and the players.
3) Future draft picks
Win or hope are the forms of NBA front office security, and Rose may sell the latter because of all those future picks in storage. At some point, Rose may have to use them. But not today!
4) Jalen Brunson
It was worth the forgery charge. If the NBA ever presents its evidence in a never-ending investigation, Brunson is likely worth the punishment as well. Rose needed a hit in free agency after so many mistakes (ahem, Kemba Walker, Evan Fournier, Nerlens Noel). Brunson delivers nearly 21 points per game with 6.7 assists.
5) Tom Thibodeau
Coaches are an executive’s first shield against criticism, and Thibodeau provides reliable cover while publicly supporting all of Rose’s roster changes. After all, it is easier to replace the playcaller than the players. Almost every front office gets a second coach. Rose can also thank his decision not to fire Thibodeau last season and bring up Kenny Payne, who went to coach Louisville and was historically bad.
6) Steve Mills
We were very critical of the front office predecessor, but he actually built the team that represents Rose’s greatest achievement. Every starter in the Knicks’ 2020-21 pandemic playoff season has been acquired under Mills’ watch. Now, three years after Rose was hired, three of the Knicks’ five starters — Julius Randle, RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson — have been signed or drafted by Mills. Phil Jackson’s fingerprints, meanwhile, remained with Frank Ntilikina.
7) The Brave/Sickly Road Trip
The season was already spiraling before that dreaded five-game trip out West last week, and the schedule could have pushed hands towards the panic button. Instead, the Knicks picked up three upset wins while most of the starting lineup battled the flu. This eased the pressure on Thibodeau and, by extension, Leon Rose.
We’ve been assured that Rose and pal William Wesley’s connections will attract superstars. The best in the NBA will make their way to the Knicks. Eventually they will. Right? RIGHT??? The idea is still salable in the meantime.
We know how much Dolan hates negative press. It’s a trigger. And right now, the Nets are soaking up all that toxic air. It’s unprecedented in Dolan’s tenure that the crosstown basketball owner is attracting more heat than himself. It’s good for Rose.
It’s still less than two months into the season. The Knicks are .500. The coach was not hit by Matt Barnes. Jeff Hornacek and Joakim Noah did not try to choke. No one went AWOL. There was no impromptu press conference after the game. No reason to panic. Enjoy the turkey.