NEW YORK — Leon Rose officially took over as the newest president of the New York Knicks on Monday, the newest executive in charge of trying to turn around a franchise that's been suffering through losing season after losing season while only hoping for a brighter future.
Now Rose will take his shot at trying to get things right.
Sitting alongside general manager Scott Perry, Rose was treated to a victory in his first game as the Knicks pulled off a 125-123 victory over the Houston Rockets at Madison Square Garden.
The Knicks led by 21 points before the Rockets roared back and made it close late, but the Knicks held on.
RJ Barrett was stellar, finishing with 27 points on 10-of-18 shooting with five rebounds and five assists.
The rookie made a driving layup with 7.6 seconds left in the fourth that put the Knicks up by three points.
James Harden finished with 35 points for the Rockets.
Overall, it was a good day for the Knicks, who have won two consecutive games.
Rose is in a new role
Rose, who worked for 25 years as a player agent and represented some of the NBA's top stars while working for Creative Artists Agency, is in a far different role from anything he's ever experienced before.
He's extremely well-respected and has built strong relationships around the league. He knows the ins and outs of the NBA, but he's never run a team.
So for now, Rose will work behind the scenes, evaluating all parts of the organization and trying to determine a future course.
He met with the coaching staff and players on Monday morning.
"He’s been extremely successful throughout his career as an agent," Julius Randle said. "He established great relationships with teams and players. And has done very well for players. Who better to run the show than Leon? He had (Carmelo Anthony), a great player here. The success Melo had. The success he’s had with all his clients."
There will be no news conference introducing Rose publicly. No public proclamations.
At least not yet.
Rose's only public comments so far came in a letter sent to Knicks season-ticket holders on Monday morning.
"Our team has young talent, significant future assets (including seven first round picks over the next four years) and an ample amount of financial flexibility in the coming years," Rose wrote in the letter. "Everyone – from ownership to athletes, to staff and especially our fans – wants this team to be a winner."
Rose, who takes over after former president Steve Mills was fired Feb. 4, then asked for something that Knicks fans have had to show an awful lot of in recent years.
"Nothing about this is easy, or quick, so I ask for your continued patience," Rose wrote in the letter. "What I promise you in return is that I will be honest and forthright. We will develop a plan that makes sense, both to jumpstart our short-term growth and ensure our long-term success. Our team will work hard, stick together and ensure we live up to the honor of wearing the New York Knicks jersey."
Rose is taking over a team that is closing out its seventh consecutive losing season, was 18-42 entering Monday and fired its former head coach, David Fizdale, back in early December after a 4-18 start.
Whether Rose will be successful in turning the team around remains to be seen.
The Knicks do have future assets, they do have financial flexibility.
But that doesn't guarantee anything.
Plenty of challenges await Rose, from trying to improve the Knicks' product on the court to trying to change the public perception or the organization so it could eventually have a shot at landing stars.
In the short term, Rose will have to decide who will make up his front office and hire a head coach.
Jeff Van Gundy and Tom Thibodeau remain possibilities, although Mike Miller has done an admiral job since taking over for Fizdale.
Miller said he isn't concerned about his job status.
"I’ve kind of told you guys before, my approach is always the same," Miller said before the game. "We’re here today. We’re trying to get better today, we’re trying to get ready for this game and I don’t need any assurances from anyone as we go through this. I trust the process, I trust what we’re doing. I’m perfectly fine working the way we’re doing day to day and trying to make the players better and trying to make the team better."
That's what it comes down: Making the team better.
Rose must have the right people in place around him to help make that happen, from the front office to the coaching staff to the roster.
If the last 20 years haven proven anything, it's that just being the New York Knicks isn't enough to draw talent and win. It takes much more than that.
Now it'll be up to Rose to find out just what it takes.
Other have tried but have failed.
Whether Rose can break that trend remains to be seen.
"I think a lot of the battle, especially in the position he is is having great relationships with players, having a good relationship with players," Randle said. "And in order to do that, I think you have to have a great relationship with other teams as well. So he’s coming in as a very well respected individual."