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SBD/October 1, 2013/Franchises
Steve Mills Eases Concerns, Says Isiah Thomas Will Not Be Coming Back To Knicks
Published October 1, 2013
FUTURE PLANS: Mills was formally introduced yesterday, and in N.Y., Mitch Abramson notes while Mills "revealed little of the back-room dealings involving the Garden that led to his hire, he did disclose plans to hire more people to work under him." Mills did say that outgoing Exec VP & GM Glen Grunwald "would stay on to help in 'my transition.'" In one of the "more curious moments, Mills said he had no reservations about returning to the Garden and that he had no regrets of his time there from 1999-2009, even though he presided over a difficult period that included a sexual harassment suit against Thomas and the Garden that cost MSG millions" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/1). Also in N.Y., Frank Isola notes the hiring of Mills "seemingly came out of nowhere because it did." It was a "case of Dolan being Dolan and looking to blame someone for losing to a lower-seeded team and for the Nets invading his territory." What remains "unclear is how the appointment of Mills will affect several key members of the organization." The future of Dir of Player Personnel Mark Warkentien "is murky." Meanwhile, the "theory is that Mills will run the business side of the organization," while Assistant GM Allan Houston "will have an increased role in the day-to-day operations on the basketball side." Both will "report directly to Dolan, which is crucial for Mills" since MSG President & CEO Hank Ratner "was the driving force behind Mills being fired in the wake of the Anucha Browne Sanders sexual harassment lawsuit" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/1).
ALREADY CREATING SOME WAVES: In N.Y., Marc Berman noted agent Richard Kaplan "pounded the Knicks for their handling" of Grunwald. Kaplan in a text message wrote, "Steve is a great guy, but Glen's firing is absurd." Several league execs "were genuinely shocked at the timing of the move," as was Knicks F Carmelo Anthony. He said, "I was shocked. I never heard about it and nobody knew it was coming." Meanwhile, NBA Commissioner David Stern "defended the Knicks' decision, lauding Mills, who worked with Stern" in the '90s. Stern said that his "inexperience running a club day-to-day is a non-factor because of his past experience as the Garden's sports president where he also oversaw" the WNBA Liberty. Stern "declined to comment on his involvement in Mills’ hire, citing 'commissioner-owner privilege,' but acknowledged he knew of the hiring at the press conference." A source said that Dolan "got Stern’s endorsement recently." Another league exec said that Mills "recently attempted to put together funds to buy a sports team to no avail" (N.Y. POST, 9/28). Also in N.Y., Mike Lupica wrote Mills "isn’t a personnel guy, no matter how many friends he has in high places, and send up a flare if you think Allan Houston is the guy who’s going to take the orange-and-blue back to the promised land." The Knicks for the last year "were the best team in town," and Grunwald "still gets treated this way." Lupica: "What a place" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/29).