Mercurial and media-shy Knicks owner James Dolan spoke with Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post in a rare question and answer session published today. Rather than slog through the whole thing yourself, complete with JD and the Straight Shots references, we culled the seven best quotes from the piece, so you didn’t have to.
Mike Vaccaro: You’ve shown tolerance as an owner; [GM] Glen Sather had a lot of empty years with the Rangers before he showed success. Do you feel you’re more patient than an average owner?
James Dolan: I really don’t compare myself with other owners. I’ll bet you I’m more patient than Mikhail [Prokhorov] is of his team. Mostly, I think it does not pay to be impatient, because you destabilize your team. It’s not like the players don’t want to win, it’s not like the owner doesn’t want to win; everybody wants to win, so it’s a question of: Can you get there? With Mike, I think he can get us there. Mostly, I think Carmelo [Anthony] can get us there, and the other players can get us there, they’re going to have to jell and I think Mike can do a lot to get that to happen. Because he has their respect.
First up is when Vaccaro asks Dolan about his “tolerance” as an owner, a word not normally associated with the capricious head of the Knicks and Rangers and the President and CEO of Cablevision Systems. Here, Dolan gleans over his impulsive behavior, and says Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov as even more impatient. This isn’t the first mention of Prokhorov in the interview, either.
MV: How patient will you be with [Mike Woodson]? He understood when he took the job the expectations that go with it. Will you give him a long rope?
JD: I have a lot of confidence in Woodson, and one thing I can say about Mike is he has the respect of all the players. They all respect him. And he treats them fairly and relatively equally, and that’s part of where the respect emanates from. And those are hard things to get from a coach. When a coach loses a team … that’s when a coach is kind of done.
Patience is a similar characteristic to the tolerance in the earlier question, specifically as regards the job security of Knicks coach Mike Woodson, who many feel is on the hot seat after New York’s 3-8 start. Remember, Dolan told his coaching staff and executives he wants a title this year. Through the first eleven games, they’ve been anything but title contenders and are now just trying to get back to .500 in order to have a shot at the playoffs.
MV: A few days before training camp you changed general managers; why do that so close to the start of camp? Did something change from the start of summer to the end?
JD: I didn’t time it, per se, like that. I’m surprised other folks were surprised about this. The general manager’s work doesn’t really occur at that time of year. If you’re going to change general managers that’s probably the right time to do it. The next available trade date is Dec. 15. You’ve just finished free agency and all that. It’s a lull period. The timing didn’t really have much to do with that. It was more about an initiative I have going on with both teams that I hired McKinsey & Company [a Manhattan-based global management consulting firm] for, because as I’ve gotten to look at both our organizations, it’s become apparent that we really need to reprocess both teams. We were using a lot of — not old, but “classic” methods and now with technology, and what’s available to a team to help improve, I didn’t think we were taking advantage of those things.
Dolan imperiously fired GM Glen Grunwald before the start of the 2013-14 season, even though Grunwald had played a significant role in New York’s roster changes this past offseason. Here, Dolan explains why he made the change to current GM Steve Mills. This is actually one of Dolan’s best answers because evaluating players and teams has been taken to a whole new level with the advent of advanced statistical models and SportVU cameras. Maybe Glen just wasn’t ready to usher in the age of technology for the Knicks? How else to explain that Andrea Bargnani trade?