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Steve Stoute's coaching comments get swift reaction from Knicks

Kentucky coach John Calipari yells out to his

Kentucky coach John Calipari yells out to his players against Texas Tech on Jan. 25 in Lubbock, Texas. Credit: AP/Brad Tollefson

GREENBURGH, N.Y. — The Knicks clarified on Tuesday that the new adviser they hired to improve their brand makes no personnel decisions, after he indicated during a televised interview that they would hire a new coach.

“While Steve Stoute is a valued contributor to the Knicks’ marketing and branding efforts, he does not speak on behalf of New York Knicks personnel and basketball operations. Any decisions regarding the operations of the team will be made by the new president of the New York Knicks,” the team said.

Stoute, hired in part last month to improve the team’s connection to its fans, was interviewed on ESPN on Tuesday and said the Knicks would be looking for a new coach. Stoute said the Knicks’ recent firing of president Steve Mills “will bring a new coach and new coaches that are going to help develop these younger players.”

The Knicks fired Mills on Feb. 4 and plan to hire player agent Leon Rose as team president.

Interim coach Mike Miller has had success, recently putting together a four-game winning streak and shoring up a defense that struggled early in the season, but Stoute’s interview suggested that the franchise will likely look elsewhere for a long-term solution.

“There had to be a change so there is a change,” Stoute said on ESPN’s “First Take,” talking about the departure of Mills, which he said he didn’t have a part in. “That change will bring a new coach and new coaches that are going to help develop these younger players . . . And getting a coach in there and ultimately getting a coach and coaching staff that’s going to help develop a team, that’s what I expect to happen.”

Stoute continued, saying that the Knicks needed to change their image to be more in line with being a team that, like the Yankees or Cowboys, is synonymous with the sport it represents. To wit, despite not winning a championship in 46 years and not reaching the playoffs since the 2012-2013 season, Forbes Tuesday reported that the franchise is still the most valuable in the NBA, valued at $4.6 billion, a 15% increase from last year.

The caliber of player they’re currently able to entice, though, doesn’t reflect that, Stoute said. That was further underlined last offseason, when the Knicks were rebuffed by Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, who went to the Nets — a team that is trying to build its image in a way that competes with the likes of Madison Square Garden and celebrity fans such as Spike Lee. “We’ve got to get athletes to believe that they can come here and actually be their best selves,” Stoute said. “That hasn’t transpired over recent times and I understand some of the reasons why. We have to solve that issue. I think there’s a culture of winning and excitement that New York City has.”

The coach whom the Knicks are rumored to have an eye on is John Calipari. Last Friday, agent David Falk added credence to a rumor that the Knicks would attempt to lure Calipari from Kentucky.

Falk said he would “take bets on how long it’s going to take before they hire John Calipari to be the next coach,” according to his interview with on WFAN’s Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts. “I’d say 30 seconds.”

Calipari has said a number of times that he plans to remain in Kentucky, and the Knicks’ Julius Randle and Kevin Knox — both of whom played for him in college — said they saw no reason to not believe their old coach.

“I think he’s sitting on a pretty high throne in Kentucky and I think he’s very comfortable there, but I can’t speak for him,” Randle said.

Knox was even more definitive. “When Cal said he’s not going to do something, he’s pretty solid,” Knox said. “I think he came out in multiple reports [saying] that he didn’t want to do it.”

Notes & quotes: Mitchell Robinson, Allonzo Trier, Damyean Dotson and Moe Harkless didn’t practice because of illness, but they are probable for Wednesday’s game against Washington.

With AP

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