Knicks branding manager Steve Stoute is known for his marketing, but he thinks he can help lure free agents, too.
Knicks president Leon Rose and senior vice president William Wesley were hired primarily as a conduit to luring stars, but Stoute believes he can form a Big 3.
“With having Leon in, World Wide Wes and myself, the three of us, we’re the best sort of team as it relates to being able to speak with free agents,’’ Stoute said over the weekend on the “Breakfast Club” podcast. “Our relationship with talent to bring them to New York. They haven’t had this level of talent in the last 10 years that can go out and pitch free agents and convince them why New York his great.’’
Stoute was brought on in January to help recharge the image of James Dolan and his woebegone Knicks.
According to a source, Stoute is tight with Stephen Curry; Klay Thompson; LeBron James; James’ agent, Rich Paul, who also reps Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant; and Durant’s agent/manager Rich Kleiman.
Curry has said often he had hoped the Knicks would draft him in 2008. If things fall apart in Golden State, which just posted the league’s worst record after dealing with a host of injuries, it would be no shock if Curry or Thompson sought a new start.
Stoute defended Dolan’s work, lauding him for paying massive amounts of money to turn the Knicks around — the latest being a five-year deal for new coach Tom Thibodeau.
“James Dolan is misunderstood,’’ Stoute said. “He’s certainly brash. As a sports fan, I love an owner willing to invest and pay for talent. It’s a risky business. When you go get Phil Jackson, there’s a guy who spent a ton of money to get Phil and he failed. And he went out and got Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo [Anthony]. They’re trying and spending money. It doesn’t always work out the way you want it to be.’’
Asked if Dolan’s antics make things harder for him, Stoute denied it.
“If you have a strong argument, he listens,’’ Stoute said. “If you don’t have a strong argument, he’ll run you over.”
The Knicks have missed the playoffs seven straight years. That ineptitude is what makes Stoute’s mission of an image makeover challenging.
“My No. 1 job is do what I do best — rebranding,’’ Stoute said. “The Knicks are one of the greatest sports brands in the world. Obviously, we got work to do on the court with the team but branding aspects, there’s so much we can do with merchandising and apparel, making great advertising to get people excited about this global brand.”