NEW YORK - The Knicks' rebrand already needed a rebrand.
Hours after Steve Stoute essentially fired the Knicks coaching staff on ESPN, the Knicks released a statement declaring their "brand consultant" doesn't speak for the organization.
"While Steve Stoute is a valued contributor to the Knicks' marketing and branding efforts, he does not speak on behalf of the New York Knicks personnel and basketball operations," the Knicks stated. "Any decisions regarding the operations of the team will be made by the new President of the New York Knicks."
Stoute also attempted to clarify.
"In my excitement to defend the Knicks on live TV, I inadvertently insinuated about Knicks personnel," Stoute said in the joint statement. "I look forward to working with Knicks management to elevate the great Knicks brand moving forward."
During a lengthy interview on ESPN's First Take, Stoute, a marketing and entertainment executive, pumped up his role in the Knicks organization as the key to their plan of attracting free agents. In the process, Stoute declared that the team's new front office - which will eventually be led power agent Leon Rose - will hire a new coach and staff. The implication was that interim coach Mike Miller, who has done an impressive job since taking over for David Fizdale, won't return next season. Even though that's the likely scenario given the changing power dynamic at MSG, putting it on record would sabotage the remaining 28 games of the season for Miller and his assistants - all of whom grinded with this team for two seasons.
"There had to be a change in (firing team president Steve Mills). That change will bring a new coach and new coaches that are going to help develop these younger players," Stoute said in the morning on First Take. "And they got some young players - you see RJ Barrett, Mitch Robinson. They got something to work with. And getting a coach in there and ultimately getting a coach and a coaching staff that's going to help develop a team. That's what I expect to happen so that we can actually get to what you expect from a New York team."
Stoute has no experience in basketball operations but has a long history of marketing in the NBA. He rebranded the Nets and created advertising campaigns for LeBron James and Chris Paul. His company, Translation, also served as one of the league's advertising agencies.
In the wake of the Knicks striking out in free agency and being called uncool by Kevin Durant, Stoute was hired by Dolan to change the team's perception. However, Stoute said he also played a role in identifying the new front office and is consulting Dolan on Knicks decisions beyond branding.
"The biggest thing is getting free agents and players to know this is a place to show up, this is where they should be," Stoute said.' "I think that narrative has been lost. Players haven't come, a free agent hasn't come. And if we can solve that problem, which I know we will, we have a great chance. We're the most iconic team in the league by far."
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