Mark Warkentien Rumors

With their lavish budget, the Knicks have proved willing to spend over the years, including nominal investments in analytics. The Knicks subscribed to SportVU before it went league-wide, have utilized Catapult technology and employ a director of analytics, Mike Smith, with an assistant. Smith’s background is in video rather than statistical analysis, however, and our sources cast doubt on how interested the team’s decision-makers really are. Director of player personnel Mark Warkentien, who hired analytics pioneer Dean Oliver when he was with the Denver Nuggets, is a believer, but Jackson calls the shots and coach Derek Fisher is running Jackson’s offense.
In addition to agreeing last March to keep Mills as his right-hand man — upon owner James Dolan’ s recommendation — Jackson retained veteran executive John Gabriel, promoted from director of pro scouting to director of basketball operations, and gave him more influence. Player personnel director Mark Warkentien, meanwhile, lost some power. He interviewed in Memphis for a front-office position that ultimately went to former Nets president Ed Stefanski.
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Mark Warkentien, the Knicks Director of Player Personnel, has re-signed with the club after nearly taking a similar position with the Memphis Grizzlies, the Daily News has learned. Warkentien’s future in New York was unclear after Phil Jackson was hired as president. There were initial reports of a front office shake-up, but Jackson instead retained Steve Mills as general manager. In fact, Mills was a candidate to become executive director of the NBA players union, but ultimately withdrew his name because of his position with the Knicks.
Mark Warkentien’s days with the Knicks as their player personnel director are numbered. Warkentien was an important front office official the last couple of seasons when the team had a strong working relationship with CAA, the talent agency that represents Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith and Andrea Bargnani, among others. Warkentien was the Knicks’ liaison with CAA, which also had special entrée with Dolan. But with Jackson’s hiring, CAA is being viewed as just another talent stable. “The days of the Knicks catering to CAA are over,” said one source. “Phil’s not standing for that stuff.”
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Knicks president and general manager Steve Mills is now occupying Glen Grunwald’s seat and during Friday’s preseason finale against Charlotte, Allan Houston was seated to Mills’ left. No surprise there. But conspicuously seated to Mills’ right was Mark Warkentien, who could emerge as an important figure in Mills’ administration. Warkentien currently holds the title of player personnel director but, according to sources, he is regarded as a top candidate to become Mills’ top lieutenant. Mills’ strength is on the business side and his preference is to hire or promote an executive who will assist him in the day-to-day operations. “(Jim Dolan) felt in today’s environment of the NBA with the punitive nature of the tax structure and the salary cap that he wants to have an organization that is the best in the NBA,” Mills said last month. “He felt it was time to bring someone in who can take a look at every aspect of running a basketball business.’”
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Mark Warkentien, whose consulting deal was extended this season, is represented by Creative Artists Agency — the same powerhouse that orchestrated the Anthony trade. Warkentien, the Nuggets GM when Anthony was there, also is said to have Dolan’s ear, according to a league source. This could be troubling news for D’Antoni, who is known to be regarded by Warkentien as a roster-specific coach — perfect with personnel that suit his style, and not the ideal fit otherwise.
The sources said Dolan’s search is expected to include current members of Walsh’s basketball operations staff, such as Glen Grunwald, Mark Warkentien, John Gabriel and Allan Houston , along with the few experienced executives available. The sources said MSG Sports president Scott O’Neil, a highly regarded and valued executive who is focused on business operations for the Garden, will not be in the mix to run the Knicks.
Among the top candidates expected to be interviewed are former Portland general manager Kevin Pritchard, Mark Warkentien, the former Denver GM who is working for the Knicks on an interim basis to help with the draft, former Hornets GM Jeff Bower, who used to coach at Marist College, Knicks assistant GM Allan Houston, former Cavaliers GM Danny Ferry and former Nets president Kiki Vandeweghe.
Walsh will remain for the rest of his contract, which expires on June 30, and then serve as a consultant for the 2011-12 season. Glen Grunwald, the senior vice president of basketball operations, was named the team’s interim general manager while the franchise conducts a search for a new president and general manager. A few likely candidates include former Portland Trail Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard , former New Orleans Hornets GM Jeff Bower , former Golden State GM Chris Mullin and former Denver Nuggets GM Mark Warkentien, who is currently on the Knicks’ staff as director of pro player personnel.
And there’s been speculation for weeks the Garden could look to John Calipari and Mark Warkentien as the next leaders of the franchise. Both Calipari and Warkentien, who was at last night’s game, are represented by CAA, which handles Carmelo Anthony’s and Chris Paul’s affairs. “I don’t know nothing about that,” Walsh said. “Some of it is promotion by people who want to get in the press.”
The bigger question is, who would be that successor? Allan Houston, the assistant GM, may make a good front man one day and recently- hired Mark Warkentien has the proven ability to handle the behind-the-scenes work. But you have to believe Houston and Warkentien would prefer to have Walsh around to oversee and advise, if anything just to figure out what do to with all these people — Glen Grunwald, John Gabriel, Misho Ostarcevic, Jamie Mathews, Mark Hughes and, of course, Rodney Heard — in the front office.
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?
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.
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.