LeBron James won’t handpick the Knicks next coach if he signs with them,
because Mike D’Antoni is going nowhere. Not even for Phil Jackson. But
James could have a say in a prominent late-summer general manager
According to two sources, Knicks team president Donnie Walsh plans to
start compiling a list of general manager candidates in late July/early
August after the free-agent frenzy is over.
Perhaps Walsh’s episode in Paris 2½ weeks ago was a sign from the heavens he could use a traditional general manager, so he can travel on the road less often. According to a source close to Walsh, the 69-year-old’s hip went out during the Euroleague Final Four as he struggled negotiating the bleachers at ancient Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy.
Walsh downplayed the incident, but told The Post he has put off a hip-replacement surgery for six years, never feeling he had time for the six weeks of rehab. Friends are insisting that he undergoes the surgery sooner rather than later, perhaps after the free-agent signings.
Walsh didn’t deny it’s something that could be addressed in the near future, but stated in an e-mail, "I’m not thinking about it now. It is not something I am focused on at this time."
Firing D’Antoni has never crossed Walsh’s mind. The reason he was hired two years ago partly was because of his relationship he developed with James when he was an assistant coach of the 2008 gold-medal winning USA basketball team.
Knicks senior vice president of basketball operations Glen Grunwald, a leftover from the Isiah Thomas regime, has one more year left on his contract, but Walsh does not appear to view him as his ultimate successor.
James could have major input in that decision if he is here, but former Warriors GM Chris Mullin, who is tight with Walsh from their Indiana days, seems a natural fit and long has been considered a candidate to be Walsh’s heir apparent.
Allan Houston, assistant to the president who will be a key recruiter this July (he’s longtime friends with James’ advisor, William Wesley), could be nearing a promotion. When Walsh hired Houston, he admitted he was grooming him to be a general manager.
Nets’ GM Kiki Vandeweghe, dismissed by new owner Mikhail Prokhorov, has interest in the Knicks’ job. John Gabriel, the Knicks director of pro scouting who spearheaded the scouting and preparation of the 2010 free-agent class, has a distinguished resume as the GM of the Magic. Mark Warkentien, the Nuggets GM whose contract is up, also is close with Walsh.