Report: Players 'took notice' when James Dolan banned Charles Oakley from Knicks games

Jack BaerWriter
Yahoo Sports

In case you hadn’t heard, the New York Knicks didn’t blow away the NBA in free agency.

After a putrid regular season that most fans endured with the hopes that Zion Williamson and some marquee free agents like Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were on the way, the team instead ended up with R.J. Barrett and Julius Randle. Those aren’t bad players, but few expect the Knicks to make the playoffs next year.

How did the NBA’s most valuable franchise get here? How are they now arguably the second-biggest team in town? How are they now in a six-season playoff drought?

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The answer, as chronicled by The New York Times, seems to be pretty simple ... and unsurprising. It’s James Dolan.

NYT report points to James Dolan for Knicks’ struggles

In case you thought that constant coaching and front-office turnover is attractive to NBA free agents, wonder no more.

From the Times:

Players around the league, according to the agents, have taken note of the Knicks’ instability: There have been 10 coaches since Van Gundy left in 2001 and almost as many top executives, some with impressive résumés, like Isiah Thomas, Donnie Walsh and Phil Jackson. Now Mills and Scott Perry, the general manager, are at the helm.

But wait, what about banning a former player who turned into a fan favorite from attending games? Apparently, that wasn’t a great moment for the team in the eyes of free agents either:

Players around the league also took notice when Dolan went after a former Knick. He had security personnel forcibly remove Charles Oakley, a Knicks power forward from the 1980s and ’90s who was a fan favorite, from the Garden two years ago.

One of those players might have been Durant, who posed for a picture with Oakley shortly before agreeing to a deal with the Nets. Oakley himself has been quite critical of Knicks operations recently.

The Knicks have already claimed they weren’t prepared to give Durant a max deal due to his Achilles injury, and there may be a silver lining to avoiding Durant and Irving. However, the team is almost certainly going to have to land major free agents eventually to contend. We’ll see if they’re ever able to pull that off.

Charles Oakley is probably more popular than James Dolan in the NBA these days. (Photo by Matteo Marchi/Getty Images)
Charles Oakley is probably more popular than James Dolan in the NBA these days. (Photo by Matteo Marchi/Getty Images)

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