WASHINGTON — New Knicks general manager Scott Perry said he believes the team’s fans will be satisfied with any result this season if they witness a franchise “establishing a direction” and fighting every game.
The new regime has centered the 2017-18 season on developing a young core and not focusing as much on a playoff spot. Coach Jeff Hornacek drove that point home further Friday morning, comparing his gig to that of 76ers coach Brett Brown, who oversaw a multi-season tank job in Philadelphia.
“Fans in general respect teams who compete and fight hard every night,’’ Perry said in a pregame meeting with the traveling beat writers before the Knicks faced the Wizards in their second preseason game. “I think fans will respect that. We’ll see where that takes us. Nobody has a crystal ball, what that’s going to mean for results this year. Let that play out.
“The big thing is this team competing, playing hard, playing together, trying to defend every night. If we can do that, they can live with the results. The fans will at least see the proper direction we’re headed. That’s going to be key — establishing direction where we’re headed as an organization.’’
The Carmelo Anthony trade less than two weeks ago set in motion the full rebuilding process in which eyeing a spot in a potentially star-studded lottery has logic. Management covets its core of seven players to build around — adding Doug McDermott and Enes Kanter to the group of Kristaps Porzingis, Frank Ntilikina, Willy Hernangomez, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Ron Baker. All seven are 25 or younger.
“I just want to see us compete hard every day, whether practice, game or scrimmage,” Perry said. “This team comes out and fights. That’s what I want to see. If I can see this consistently, I can live with the results this year.”
Earlier in the day, Hornacek said on the topic of patience this season: “You got to find the combination. Brett Brown has figured out a good way to do that. It’s hard as a coach because you want to win. You understand the process you have to go through. You try to not sacrifice what you’re trying to do to build just to win some games.”
In Las Vegas, the Knicks’ over-under for victories has dropped since the Anthony deal from 30½ to 29½.
“We want to build the right way,” Perry said. “It’s like building a home. You want to build a solid foundation. It takes time to establish that foundation. We’ll be opportunistic as we move along the way but keep focusing on development.”
One potential concern this season is the health of Ntilikina, the 19-year-old rookie point guard, who missed Friday’s game with a knee bruise. He’ll also miss Sunday’s game in Brooklyn after missing all of summer league with a knee issue.
The rail-thin Ntilikina has said getting his body stronger is a primary goal, and Perry said he feels it’s natural for the rookie to get bumps and bruises.
“You answered the question yourself when you say he’s 19,” Perry said. “He’s a young guy playing against grown men. It takes time to train his body in that way. I think he’s going to be fine. I’m not concerned about that right now. Go back over time, a lot of people have come in this league, struggled with minor tissue issues. The kid is very smart. He wants to be a good player.”
Perry on other issues:
Meeting Porzingis: Perry actually first met Porzingis at a workout before the 2015 draft as an executive with the Magic. Selecting fifth, Orlando prayed in the war room the Knicks would pass on him at No. 4.
“I’ve spent time with him now and had very good impressions of him,” Perry said. “He wants to be a great player in this league one day. He knows he has a lot of hard work ahead of him.”
Traveling with the team: Unlike ousted team president Phil Jackson, Perry plans to go everywhere.
“It’s important to be around here to support the group, to have a feel of this team, especially on the road,” he said. “You learn about players, gives you a better understanding to what you need to add because you have a better handle.”
On his failure to get over the hump in Orlando: Perry said he wished he had sprinkled in more veterans.
“We had a lot of young people, more young people even than we have here right now. I definitely learned from it. And I think you heard me talk about having veterans around. I’ve seen how veteran players can be to young players.”