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.