Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter |
If the Knicks decide that they can't pay the price to get Masai Ujiri from Toronto, there are a number of other top-level executives who should be on their list after parting ways with team president Steve Mills.
They'd need someone with a proven track record and respectability -- and preferably someone with a title on their resume.
Here are notes on a few executives that fit some of those criteria:
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).
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.
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.
Need evidence to show you that Kevin 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. Pritchard has two years remaining on his current contract.
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.
Two other execs -- Golden State's Bob Myers and Portland's Neil Olshey, recently signed new deals with their respective clubs.Here are few names to keep an eye on that may not cost New York significant compensation: Trajan Langdon and Swin Cash of New Orleans and Michael Winger with the Clippers. Langdon, per league sources, has fans within the organization.