The New York Knicks are accustomed to every one of their personnel moves being dissected by fans and especially the media.
Thus far there’s been mostly shock in the re-hiring of Steve Mills as the club’s new general manager, and the essential demotion of Glen Grunwald to the role of advisor. It’s been suggested the move had nothing to do with Grunwald’s lack of success, but rather Mills influence around the league and ability to draw free agents to New York.
Furthermore, the addition of Mills could be the best way to keep star Carmelo Anthony in Knicks blue and orange beyond the upcoming season.
The surprise surrounding Mills has nothing to do with his business acumen, and has more to do with his lack of experience running a team. It’s also his association with the Isiah Thomas Era and the messy way he left the team after the settling of a sexual harassment case five years ago, as pointed out by the NY Daily News. When Mills was with the Knicks, he was involved in several of the team's biggest blunders like the signing of oft-injured center Jerome James, only adding to the initial unease.
According to long-time Knicks beat writer Howard Beck, Mills appeal lies more with his relationships with powerful talent hub Creative Artists Agency, and William “Worldwide Wes” Wesley, a long-time NBA power broker who has become Knicks owner James Dolan’s most trusted basketball advisor. CAA also represents head coach Mike Woodson, Anthony, and J.R. Smith, as well as members of the team’s management.
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Mills was also reportedly in line to replace Billy Hunter as the head of the player’s union. At the time of his departure, Hunter was surrounded by accusations of poor business practices. After that messy divorce, the fact Mills was up for the job speaks volumes about his clout with players.
Beck also suggested that Williams passes along Anthony’s thoughts directly to management, and if he was asked right now he would opt-out of his contract. The 29-year-old reigning scoring champion can test free agency in the summer of 2014, and leave the Knicks with nothing in return after the monumental haul they laid out to land him two years ago.
It’s believed Anthony will stay if the Knicks can secure more talent, and the addition of Mills could be all the convincing the superstar needs.
How Mills not only keeps New York atop the East, but pushes them beyond the second round of the playoffs will require much more than finesse in a boardroom. Currently at $78.9 million, the Knicks have the fourth highest payroll in the league heading into next season, and unless Mills can make a trade, cap space won’t become available until 2015.
By then, the contracts of Amar’e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler, and Andrea Bargnani will have expired. Assuming the Knicks keep Anthony in-house, they’ll have more than $60 million in cap space.
If Mills can convince Anthony he is serious about bringing in reinforcements, then he could chase such potential free agents as Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge, Minnesota’s Kevin Love, Brooklyn center Brook Lopez, or even Boston point guard Rajon Rondo, as pointed out by the New York Post.
There has been substantial speculation as to whether Aldridge is happy in Portland, and whether he will request a trade. Love has also had some public spats with Minnesota management, and Rondo may want no part of the Celtics current rebuilding project.
The Post also pointed to four-time MVP LeBron James. Should he decide to play out the final year of his deal with the Miami Heat through the 2014-15 season, James will also be an unrestricted free agent when the Knicks have cap space. James has said publicly that he has “no idea” what his plans are for next summer -- an open-ended answer that could mean a second change of venue for the NBA’s best player.