James Dolan Denies Rumor He's Been 'Courting Offers' for Knicks Sale

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistFebruary 18, 2019

FILE - In this Oct. 20, 2018, file photo, Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan, center, watches an NBA basketball game between the New York Knicks and the Boston Celtics at Madison Square Garden in New York. It's been a year since Dolan announced his intent to sell the New York Liberty, and the team is still on the market. There have been several potential buyers and a few have gotten close to purchasing the team, but for various reasons all the potential deals fell through. Even without a new owner on the horizon and the Liberty in the same situation as last November, there is no danger of the team ceasing to exist this winter. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

James Dolan has denied a report saying he's ready to sell the New York Knicks.

The Ringer's Bill Simmons reported on his most recent podcast (h/t Tommy Beer of Forbes.com): "Multiple people told me this, who know things. James Dolan is courting offers for the Knicks. It's happening. It's on. It's go-time. He's courting offers for the Knicks. That's what I heard at All-Star Weekend from people I trust."

Simmons continued:

"This is what I've pieced together. [Dolan] really cares about the buildings and the in-game/in-concert experience. And he wants to put even more money into that. The Knicks are just a pain in the ass, people s--t on him for it. He feels if he can just sell the Knicks for some crazy price, then he can put the money into that music/in-game experience stuff that he cares about. So, the Knicks are available."

However, Dolan later released a statement through the Madison Square Garden Company saying that Simmons' report is "100 percent false. There has been nothing. No discussions. No plans to have discussions—nothing."

Simmons' report comes about two months after Dolan told Ian O'Connor of ESPN.com that there had been inquiries into the Knicks, but that "no one has come through with a bona fide offer."

"You hear numbers all the time," he continued. "... I think people have sent feelers out but never any that were pursued. Yeah, [the feelers are] around that number [$5 billion], but those things, it's like a stock price. It's only important if you're going to buy or sell."

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Dolan also didn't rule out the possibility of selling the Knicks, though he added he didn't want to do so.

The 63-year-old Dolan is the executive chairman of both the MSG Networks and The Madison Square Garden Company (the latter of which he is also the CEO) and has owned the Knicks since 1999. He also owns the NHL's New York Rangers and the WNBA's New York Liberty.

Under his watch, the Knicks have reached the postseason seven times in 20 years, though they are on track to miss the playoffs for a sixth straight year and have reached the postseason just four times since the 2001-02 campaign, getting out of the first round just once in that time.

The reports that Dolan could consider selling, however, come just months before the team's most important offseason in recent memory. The Knicks are not only in the running for the top overall pick, which could net them explosive superstar-in-the-making Zion Williamson, but they also cleared two max slots for free agency when they traded Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks.

In a free-agency class that could include Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson, Kemba Walker, DeMarcus Cousins and Tobias Harris, among others, that cap flexibility could be huge.

With a number of future first-round draft picks in the cupboard as well, the Knicks could enter into trade discussions for wantaway New Orleans Pelicans superstar Anthony Davis.

One of the common counterarguments against the Knicks' ability to land any stars in free agency is that the front office and ownership have been steeped in chaos in recent years, from the Isiah Thomas scandal to the mess between former team president Phil Jackson and Carmelo Anthony to the reports that Porzingis wanted out in New York.

But perhaps the possibility of new ownership would alleviate some of those concerns for big-name free agents. It would certainly add another fascinating wrinkle to what promises to be an intriguing summer in New York.