After the New York Knicks fired president of basketball operations Steve Mills, all signs point to the team hiring player agent Leon Rose as Mills' replacement. Rose has been an elite agent, currently representing the likes of Devin Booker, Karl-Anthony Towns and Joel Embiid. A former agent of LeBron James, Rose also had a major impact in growing CAA as one of the top sports agencies.
A playoff team just four of the past 18 seasons, the Knicks are looking to find success with a different model. Expected to join Rose is William "World Wide Wes" Wesley. Wesley is known as a consultant and power broker with ties to many of the NBA's elite.
Hiring a player agent has become a recent trend in the NBA. There have been a handful of former agents to transfer over to the basketball operations side of the negotiating table, resulting in varying degrees of success.
The ideal agent to front office executive transformation for the Knicks to look at would be Bob Myers joining the Golden State Warriors. Myers spent more than a decade as an agent, working under Arn Tellem at SFX Sports and Wasserman.
When the Warriors hired Myers in 2011, they took a measured approach in cultivating his role as a front office executive. Hired as assistant general manager, Myers worked under general manager Larry Riley for one season before being promoted to GM in 2012.
Myers has built a strong profile as a general manager with the ability to acquire the right talent with good chemistry. Some of his highlights include drafting Draymond Green in the second round of the 2012 draft, acquiring Andre Iguodala in a 2013 sign-and-trade deal and hiring Steve Kerr in 2014. After winning one championship, Myers and the Warriors signed superstar Kevin Durant in 2016. The move powered the dynasty to two consecutive championships and a total of three titles and five consecutive Finals appearances.
Now, Myers is on the path to retooling the Warriors for another championship run after Durant left in free agency. With guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson out for most of this season due to injury, the Warriors' dynasty is on pause with a run for title contention likely to start up next season.
The former agent of Kobe Bryant, Pelinka began his run as general manager working under president of basketball operations Magic Johnson. As the Lakers undertook a massive rebuild, Johnson and Pelinka managed to sign LeBron James in the summer of 2018.
Drama ensued as the Lakers missed the playoffs during the 2018-19 season. A rift between Pelinka and Johnson developed. Johnson left towards the end of the 2018-19 season, and this past January, Pelinka was promoted to vice president of basketball operations along with his general manager title. On his way out, Johnson accused Pelinka of backstabbing him.
This past summer, Pelinka orchestrated a trade to acquire star Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans. Though the Lakers gave away a boatload of draft picks and All-Star Brandon Ingram, acquiring Davis has solidified the team as a championship contender. Though there were some turbulent times in Los Angeles, Pelinka is now head of basketball operations for the team with the best record in the Western Conference.
A former lawyer and agent for the likes of Tim Duncan and Grant Hill, Lon Babby was hired by the Phoenix Suns to become president of basketball operations in 2010. Joining a Suns franchise that had recently let Amar'e Stoudemire sign with the Knicks in free agency, Babby was tasked with rebuilding a team that had won 50 games five of the previous six seasons.
From 2010-15, the Suns never made the playoffs in Babby's tenure. He brought in general manager Lance Blanks and later Ryan McDonough as the Suns struggled, making some bad decisions. Though there were some positive moves such as the signing of guard Goran Dragic or the trade to acquire Eric Bledsoe, the Suns made numerous missteps (signing Michael Beasley to a three-year contract and drafting Alex Len fifth overall) in that five-year stretch.
Babby stepped down from his role as president in 2015 and became a senior adviser. That position lasted for one year before Babby left the organization.
A former agent at Priority Sports and ASM, Justin Zanik became assistant general manager of the Utah Jazz for three seasons. He moved on to the Milwaukee Bucks with the same title. Zanik was being groomed to be promoted to general manager, but Bucks co-owner Wes Edens soured on Zanik, leading to him returning to Utah after just one year in Milwaukee. Zanik was promoted to general manager last year, where he works under executive vice president of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey.
A former agent for players Luol Deng, Kevin Martin and Udonis Haslem, Levien joined the Sacramento Kings in 2008. A likely successor to Kings team president Geoff Petrie, Levien only lasted 18 months with Sacramento before resigning. Levien resurfaced again in 2013 when he was named CEO of the Memphis Grizzlies after helping assemble a group-led by Robert Pera-to purchase the Grizzlies franchise.
Levien was responsible for dealing forward Rudy Gay to the Toronto Raptors and hiring coach Dave Joerger. Levien and Pera's relationship took a turn for the worst, and it culminated with Levien's dismissal in 2014.