As the Knicks search for Steve Mills' replacement, there are a number of top-level executives who should be on their list.
They'd probably need someone with a proven track record and respectability -- and preferably someone with a title on their resume. But they will also consider others who don't fit that criteria.
Here are notes on a few executives and agents that the Knicks may target:
The Raptors' president of basketball operations, Ujiri is expected to be at the top of the list to replace Mills. With Ujiri under contract in Toronto, the Knicks would have to compensate the Raptors in order to hire him. Ujiri has told confidants in the past that he'd be open to considering the Knicks job if the circumstance is right, but it could take multiple first-round draft picks in order to pry him away from Toronto.
Scouting and player development are two areas of concern at MSG in the wake of how things have gone in recent Knicks seasons. Dallas has a proven track record in both areas under Nelson, whose organization was among those at the forefront of international scouting. Nelson, according to sources, is, in essence, an at-will employee in Dallas. So the Knicks, presumably, wouldn't have to offer compensation to the Mavs to bring Nelson aboard if they indeed are in the market for a new team president (though owner Mark Cuban may feel differently about that).
The OKC exec has plenty of fans at Madison Square Garden. In one sense, it's an ideal time for him to leave the Thunder for another opportunity. Oklahoma City is in the first year of what looks like a long rebuild. Presti has had significant autonomy to build the Thunder in his own way -- a way that's worked well. Does he want to test himself in a bigger market? Will he get the same autonomy with the Knicks? Autonomy is a prerequisite for any top exec thinking about filling a potential vacancy in New York. Also worth noting, some close to Presti believe that he will be open to considering the Knicks job if he's approached.
The NBA's executive VP of basketball operations has some fans among people of influence at the Garden. He presumably wouldn't cost New York any assets. VanDeWeghe played for the Knicks, coached with the Nets and was a GM with the Denver Nuggets. Given those positions and his role with the NBA, he is well-connected and well-respected throughout the league.
The former Duke standout has fans in the organization, so he's someone worth keeping an eye on. Langdon worked in San Antonio, Cleveland and Brooklyn before joining David Griffin's group in New Orleans. So he has solid experience and, unlike Ujiri, wouldn't cost the Knicks much compensation. Pelicans exec Swin Cash and Clippers exec Michael Winger also are well-regarded around the league and would, presumably cost the Knicks much less in compensation than Ujiri.
A PLAYER AGENT?
The Knicks and Dolan are considering bringing in a player agent to run the team. If this is the route they end up taking, you'd think that agent would add experienced execs to his staff. This obviously isn't unprecedented. Golden State has won titles under Bob Myers and the Lakers are one of the top teams in the NBA under Rob Pelinka. Both were former player agents.
It's unclear who, specifically, the Knicks have reached out to. But some agents have politely made it known they don't want to be considered.
CAA's Austin Brown was among those initially being given internal consideration for the position, per SNY.
Brown's current clients include Zion Williamson, Kyle Kuzma, and Jaren Jackson Jr.
Roger Montgomery is another agent among the group of representatives under initial internal consideration for New York's team presidency position, per SNY sources.
This internal list of agents is preliminary in nature. It isn't believed that the Knicks are far along with any agent at the moment. As of Tuesday night, they'd been gauging interest of some agents.
At the moment, it seems like you can cross Buford off of any potential Knicks wish list. The top Spurs exec also has a coveted position in the organization -- CEO. Per a source, he's also under contract for multiple seasons beyond this one. And those who've worked with Buford see it as highly unlikely that he leaves San Antonio for New York if the Knicks have a vacancy. Two other execs -- Golden State's Bob Myers and Portland's Neil Olshey -- recently signed new deals with their respective clubs. That would present a hurdle for New York.
Need evidence to show you that Pritchard is a top exec? Just look up the Paul George trade. Pritchard has helped build strong teams in Indiana despite having the 27th-highest payroll in the league. He'd certainly have more money to spend in the Big Apple. A hurdle here is that Pritchard has two years remaining on his current contract.