HoopsHype Mark Warkentien rumors

February 7, 2011 Updates

Explain this to me: the Nuggets fired Mark Warkentein as their general manager last summer. They thought the team's front office structure was in desperate need of streamlining. The Knicks hired Warkentein as their pro personnel director last week. Nothing has changed the Nuggets' opinion of Warkentein from last year. So, why, exactly, is his hiring by New York supposed to facilitate a trade of Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks? Yes, CAA represents Warkentein now, and CAA represents Anthony. But what does that have to do with the Nuggets--who still have to sign off on any trade? NBA.com

February 5, 2011 Updates

The New York Knicks have hired veteran league executive Mark Warkentien as director of pro player personnel. Team president Donnie Walsh announced the move Saturday in a statement, saying Warkentien will work with him on preparing for the NBA draft, scouting assignments and personnel moves. Warkentien was most recently vice president of basketball operations for Denver, winning NBA executive of the year honors following the 2008-09 season. The Nuggets let his contract expire when they restructured their front office in the summer of 2010. USA Today

The team is expected to officially announce on Saturday the hiring of former Nuggets GM Mark Warkentien as a consultant. Warkentien, who was the 2009 NBA Executive of the Year, has had a longtime relationship Walsh, who had him on his short list of potential candidates to fill a general manager position. Newsday

MSG president Scott O'Neil, not team president Donnie Walsh, was the one to push James Dolan into hiring former Nuggets general manager Mark Warkentien, The Post has learned. The official announcement on Warkentien's hire is likely to come today. Despite his fancy title, O'Neil is not part of basketball operations and is supposed to run the marketing end of the franchise. But, according to an NBA source, 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 potential free agents Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul. New York Post

February 2, 2011 Updates

Speaking of the Knicks, Berger investigates why the team hired a former NBA GM with ties to Anthony as a consultant. "What exactly is the Knicks' motivation for hiring former Nuggets GM Mark Warkentien as a consultant? Sources that have known Warkentien and Knicks President Donnie Walsh for years say this is a Walsh-driven move and bodes well for his future with the organization. Walsh has a contract extension that he's discussing and an option that has to be picked up by April. Several rival executives, however, are telling me this looks more like an effort on the part of ownership to appease CAA, who represents both warkentien and, guess who, Carmelo Anthony." CBSSports.com

Several executives and agents believe the Knicks’ hiring of former Denver Nuggets executive Mark Warkentien as a top consultant was made at a level above Walsh. Walsh likes Warkentien, respects his acumen, his talent, but he’s had chances to hire Warkentien in the past and never did. Why now? Well, Warkentien changed representation to CAA – home of dealmaker William Wesley, the famous Worldwide Wes – and clearly Knicks ownership wants to do business with Wes. Yahoo! Sports

February 1, 2011 Updates
January 31, 2011 Updates

So while the addition of Warkentien, a shrewd negotiator with a reputation as a relentless scout, bodes well for a Walsh-driven front-office structure going forward, the natural question is as follows: What does this mean for the Knicks' pursuit of Anthony? On one hand, teaming Warkentien with Walsh on the Denver trade negotiations would make it a decidedly unfair fight -- combining Walsh's experience with Warkentien's direct knowledge of the Denver power structure and Stan Kroenke's tendencies and psychology when it comes to deal-making. Sources say that Warkentien long ago zeroed in on Kroenke's negotiating weakness in any Anthony trade: his obsessive pursuit of cost- cutting. As Warkentien learned in a negotiating class he recently took at Harvard, the best way to win a negotiation is to know what the opponent wants and where his weaknesses are. CBSSports.com

Also possible, the source noted, is that Kroenke would redouble efforts to once again engage the Nets in trade talks as a far more palatable option than dealing with Warkentien. Another person with direct knowledge of the Nuggets' trade discussions has told CBSSports.com on multiple occasions recently that the Anthony talks have not evolved since the Nets dropped out last week. One reason may have been the Knicks' impending hiring of Warkentien, which sources say leaked to some members of Denver's basketball operations. CBSSports.com

So we now segue to the inevitable question of whether Mozgov was being showcased for inclusion in a possible trade for Anthony, a route the Knicks have been trying to maneuver down for the past several weeks by picking the brain of former Nuggets general manager Mark Warkentien about the best way to proceed forward. ESPN.com

"I don't know who put that deal out there. I'm pretty sure that could've been something to look forward to in New Jersey," Anthony said, but admitting with a chuckle he doesn't expect the Nets to call back. "I don't think the Nets will be calling. Nobody's going to come out publicly and do a press conference like that and then go back on their word -- especially a man like that," the superstar forward added. "He's a businessman. He doesn't conduct business like that. I take my hat off to him." New York Post

A person close to Warkentien confirmed a report Sunday night by Yahoo! Sports that the Knicks intend to hire Warkentien as a high-level consultant. The move, which has yet to be finalized, represents the first step in Knicks president Donnie Walsh's long-time efforts to hire a right-hand man. In the past, he had considered Warkentien, former Warriors executive Chris Mullin, and former Trail Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard, while coach Mike D'Antoni had some other candidates in mind. CBSSports.com

Warkentien told confidants two years ago one of his dreams was to work for Walsh and considered him a mentor. Supporters of a Warkentien hire thought it would be a good fit because of his reputation as pounding the pavement as far as scouting. Walsh has not traveled this season because he is rehabbing from hip-replacement surgery. New York Post

Walsh's contract has a team option that must be picked up by April 1. While the addition of Warkentien as a consultant is viewed by those close to the situation as a prelude to an expanded and more permanent role, sources also say that not only is Walsh's option expected to be picked up, but his contract may be extended as well. Though Walsh has made no noise about wanting the extension, he has expressed to confidants a strong desire to see the Knicks' rebuilding through after overcoming a series of health issues in recent months. After returning to Madison Square Garden recently after undergoing hip replacement surgery, Walsh has been described by friends as especially enthusiastic and strong-willed about completing the massive restoration project. CBSSports.com

Another factor for Walsh is the ongoing NBA investigation into a Yahoo! Sports report of illegal predraft workouts and contact with college underclassmen by East Coast scouting director Rodney Heard. The NBA has hired a law firm to investigate the charges, which included several players and witnesses detailing serious rules violations. Pending the results of the investigation, the Knicks could face substantial fines and the possible loss of future draft picks. If Heard loses his job with the Knicks, West Coast scout Mark Hughes, who was largely responsible for the drafting of second-round gem Landry Fields, is expected to move into a more prominent role in the Knicks’ front office. The ability to find talent outside the draft – such as Europe, the Development League and undrafted college players – has been a strength of Warkentien over his two decades in NBA front offices. Yahoo! Sports

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