by Jonah Ballow

Knicks fans received a clear message on Monday afternoon.

Prior to the press conference on Monday, the team officially announced the promotion of Steve Mills to Knicks president and the hiring of Scott Perry as general manager on Friday evening.  The new front office in New York approached the stage in front of the media on Monday at MSG Training Center and delivered an unwavering statement on its direction moving forward.

“We’re going to emphasize pride, work ethic, accountability and particularly those kinds of things because those are what we believe New York fans expect from the New York Knicks,” Mills stated.

He added, “We’re going to emphasize youth, athleticism, teamwork, and defense. We’re committed to rebuilding a team and building a team around the young core of players that we have.”

Mills is specifically referring to Kristaps Porzingis, Willy Hernangomez, this year’s No. 8 overall pick Frank Ntilikina, and the acquisition of Tim Hardaway Jr. in free agency.  These four players are under the age of 25 and all possess the attributes vocalized by the new team president.

“Kristaps, Tim Hardaway Jr., Frank, Willy Hernangomez, and fortunately for us moving forward, we still have all of our first-round draft picks and we’ll use those picks to add to the nucleus of young guys we have in our organization,” Mills maintained.

In his first press conference as a member of the New York Knicks franchise, Perry expressed the alignment between Mills and head coach Jeff Hornacek.  The Detroit native spent parts of 12 seasons with the Pistons as vice president of basketball operations, director of player personnel, and a collegiate scout.  Perry served on an executive team that assisted in building a juggernaut in the Eastern Conference, considering Detroit reached six Eastern Conference Finals, collected two Conference titles, and captured the 2004 NBA championship.  The success with the Pistons was a direct result of culture from the top down.

“People talk about culture all the time, about winning cultures.  The biggest thing I learned at [Detroit], you can have a lot of signs and printouts that have a lot of fancy statements, but at the end of the day you have to live culture every day, and that’s how you treat people, that how you hold people accountable, that’s everyone having a shared vision. One of my things that I really embraced there, and I think Steve and all of us are in agreement with this, it’s great to have diversity of thought with unity of purpose, though. And that is what we are going to strive for in our front office,” Perry declared.

Beyond roster construction and an establishment of culture, the head man on the sidelines shared his view on a key part of the Knicks on-the-floor identity moving forward.  Hornacek is seeking a team that places defense at the top of the priority list.

“We want to get back to the type of defense that the guys are putting out there every single night,” Hornacek remarked.  “There are going to be nights where you don’t shoot the ball very well but you can still win games and that’s the mentality we have to start with. I think the key thing is, everybody plays hard. Our guys played hard last year, we want to take that level to another higher level of playing hard and what that really means. Through practices, through competition, not at games, but before and after practice with guys playing one-on-one, we are going to put them in situations where they are really competing.”

The newly formed group will take the time to meet with the operations staff and formulate a strategic plan for the remainder of the summer.  However, the key points were unmistakable on Monday as Knicks fans should expect the new front office to focus its efforts on building a team around the young core, featuring athleticism, a defensive identity, and teamwork.