SBD/February 7, 2011/Franchises

Knicks Insist Warkentien's Hire Is Not About Interest In Carmelo Anthony

Warkentien's contract with the Knicks reportedly only runs through July 1
The Knicks Saturday formally named former Nuggets VP/Basketball Operations Mark Warkentien Dir of Pro Player Personnel, a hire that "has as much to do with Warkentien's vast knowledge of the college game and the NBA as it does with the team's pursuit" of Nuggets F Carmelo Anthony, according to Alan Hahn of NEWSDAY. Knicks President of Basketball Operations Donnie Walsh said that Warkentien's history with the Nuggets and the fact that he has "close ties to that organization and Anthony -- as well as Anthony's representation, Creative Artists Agency, is mere coincidence." Walsh turns 70 on March 1 and has "endured three surgical procedures in his two-plus years as team president." Warkentien, 57, "gives the franchise an experienced basketball executive who can assist Walsh with some of the heavy lifting." Hahn reported the two have "talked about teaming up for more than a year" (NEWSDAY, 2/6). In N.Y., Mitch Lawrence reported the hiring of Warkentien "is the strongest signal yet that Walsh will be coming back to run the team next season." The move is "less about Anthony's future in New York and more about Walsh continuing in his present position." It is a "huge development because Walsh had been unsuccessful since the start of the season in trying to hire executives for his front office." He wanted to hire Chris Mullin as GM, but Knicks Owner James Dolan "wouldn't allow it." Lawrence: "For Warkentien to be hired, Dolan had to give it his OK" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/6). In N.Y., Frank Isola cites a Knicks source as saying that Warkentien's contract "runs through July 1." It "doesn't mean Warkentien, whose main responsibility is college scouting on the West Coast, won't be retained but it's unlikely that he'll be" Walsh's successor (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/7).

WHO'S CALLING THE SHOTS? In N.Y., Marc Berman reported MSG Sports President Scott O'Neil, not Walsh, was the "one to push" Dolan into hiring Warkentien. O'Neil is "not part of basketball operations and is supposed to run the marketing end of the franchise." But a source indicated that O'Neil "pushed for Warkentien's hire because he feels it is important for the Knicks to do business with CAA, the agency that represents" Anthony and Hornets G Chris Paul, another potential free agent this offseason. Warkentien has "told confidants he considers Walsh his mentor and it is a dream to work for him." But the league source said that O'Neil's "influence on the Warkentien hire suggests the Garden power structure is cockeyed, since O'Neil is not supposed to influence basketball operations" (N.Y. POST, 2/5).
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