Mark Warkentien Rumors
According to several sources close to the Kentucky program, the Knicks top scout Mark Warkentien has attended nearly a dozen Wildcats practices as the club prepares for the most important decision of the Jackson regime. Jackson visited Lexington last week after attending an Ohio State game to watch point guard D’Angelo Russell.
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.
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.
It is unclear which employees Jackson wants to remove, but with the entire coaching staff fired on Monday, it is most likely personnel with the medical staff, front office and/or the media relations staff. Bleacher Report reported that Steve Mills, Allan Houston and Mark Warkentien could all be reassigned or possibly dismissed.
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.”
Since the Knicks doubled down on Anthony and his representatives with Creative Artists Agency, the organization has been reshaped in CAA’s image. Woodson, assistant GM Allan Houston and player personnel director Mark Warkentien all are represented by the agency. In re-signing another CAA client this past summer, J.R. Smith, the Knicks threw his brother, Chris, a bone in the form of a guaranteed contract. Chris is now toiling in the D-League while taking up a roster spot at MSG.
Mills added he doesn’t have immediate plans to add another body to the front office but will “restructure’’ some of the positions. Assistant GM Allan Houston, player personnel director Mark Warkentien and pro scouting directors John Gabriel and Mark Hughes work under Mills.
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.’”
There will be widespread interest and the list could run the gamut from a top past candidate like Milwaukee assistant GM Jeff Weltman to people with local ties like Tony Ronzone (USA Basketball scouting director and Dallas player personnel director), Eddie Johnson (Suns analyst) and David Griffin (Cleveland vice president of basketball operations) to experienced, out-of-work GMs like David Morway (Indiana fame) and Mark Warkentien (Denver).
The Knicks – and specifically, Knicks executive Mark Warkentien – have been selling him hard on sticking around and it sounds as if that’s JR’s desire. Their relationship is key, as Warkentien and Smith were together in Denver together and there’s a high trust level. Still, Smith will be tempted by more $$ elsewhere, so we shall see.
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.
New York Knicks director of player personnel Mark Warkentien met with Atlanta Hawks free-agent guard Jamal Crawford on Sunday in Seattle, a league source told Yahoo! Sports.
Speaking of searches….all remains quiet in the hunt for Donnie Walsh’s successor. As we’ve reported here and in the pages of Newsday several times, the candidates appear to be in-house lieutenants Glen Grunwald and Mark Warkentien and 76ers GM Ed Stefanski, with the latter getting some interest from the Toronto Raptors.
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.
Donnie Walsh’s successor – actually, successors is more like it – may not even have to change offices. The team of Scott O’Neil, Glen Grunwald and Mark Warkentien, all of whom are already employed by the Knicks, are the front-runners to run the basketball operation, the Daily News has learned.
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.
The sudden and surprising decision by the Trail Blazers (read: owner Paul Allen) to dump GM Rich Cho leaves the position open for several candidates. Will Mark Warkentien, the former Nuggets GM who is currently working for the Knicks as Director, Pro Player Personnel, be on the list? Meanwhile, if Warkentien departs, would the Knicks consider Cho?
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?
Frank Isola: A Knicks source confirms that Mark Warkentien’s deal runs thru this year’s NBA Draft. Also, the hiring was made by Dolan…the plot thickens
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.