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With trade deadline looming and Steve Mills gone, Knicks are a team in transition

Interim coach Mike Miller and the Knicks could

Interim coach Mike Miller and the Knicks could be without veteran Marcus Morris after Thursday's NBA trade deadline.   Credit: AP/Tony Dejak

GREENBURGH, N.Y. — On media day, Steve Mills spoke for the first time since the team's failed attempts to land a star through free agency. He insisted that Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan was on board with the plan and the roster that had been assembled, and that he, general manager Scott Perry and coach David Fizdale were all in this together.

Now, as the trade deadline looms at 3 p.m. Thursday, Fizdale is gone, Mills is gone, Perry is likely not far behind them and nearly every piece of that roster is up for grabs. One person with knowledge of the situation said that the most prominent voice moving forward for the moment is Steve Stoute, who was brought on as a special adviser just two weeks ago to oversee a rebranding of the franchise.

According to a source, Stoute, who founded United Masters and the Translation Agency, was expected to advise on a rebranding of the long-struggling franchise. He will not only work to make the Knicks a free-agent destination again for star players, but also help steer the process of securing the new front office. He was part of the Brooklyn Nets rebranding when they made the move from New Jersey.

At Knicks practice Wednesday, no executives were made available, leaving interim coach Mike Miller and a handful of players who may or may not be with the team by 3 p.m. Thursday to speak on the changes that have beset the team since the optimism at the start of training camp.

It’s a long way from what the Knicks expected when they used the $70 million of cap space and the No. 3 overall pick to remake the roster in the summer. Marcus Morris, who has been the team’s best player, is expected to be gone by the deadline with multiple contending teams vying for his services — and his expiring contract.

But one NBA source said that the removal of Mills and expected arrival of a completely new front-office team has not prevented the Knicks from remaining engaged in talks to obtain Warriors point guard D’Angelo Russell and the remaining three-plus years of his four-year, $117 million contract. The Knicks stressed salary-cap flexibility when they signed the seven free agents this summer, with six of them having only one season fully guaranteed. Randle, who is the lone player with a second-year guarantee, has been discussed in trade talks, too.

The Knicks have hoped to retain cap space for the summer of 2021 when Giannis Antetokounmpo could head up a loaded class of free agents, which could entice them to include Randle’s contract in a deal. Even with the turnover and the 15-36 record, Randle was hopeful of remaining in New York.

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