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Source: Griffin will not become Knicks general manager

Former Cavs GM reportedly miffed by inability to bring own basketball people to Knicks job, as well

By AL IANNAZZONE Newsday Published: July 10, 2017 4:00 AM
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David Griffin removed his name from consideration for the Knicks' front office vacancy, a league source familiar with the situation said.

Griffin had met with general manager Steve Mills on Friday, and they reportedly were progressing toward contract talks.

However, earlier in the day Sunday, a source said that the two sides weren't that far along. Then later Sunday, ESPN reported that Griffin, the former Cavaliers general manager, pulled his name out of the running. The first source told Newsday that there was "not an opportunity" there for Griffin.

ESPN reported that the snag came because Griffin wouldn't have full autonomy in the Knicks' basketball department and he may not have been allowed to bring in his own basketball people to work with him.

It's almost customary when a new executive is hired that he brings in people he's close to and trusts. A number of the Knicks' front office personnel have been with the team for a long time.

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But it was expected that Griffin would be the Knicks general manager, and Mills would be elevated to president, replacing Phil Jackson who was fired last week.

Mills has been in charge of the Knicks basketball decisions since Jackson left, and is leading this hiring process.

Before Jackson was hired in 2014, Mills had been the Knicks president and general manager. He's looking for someone to run the basketball department, but he still would have final say on decisions in the president's position, the way Jackson had.

Mills made a major move signing free agent Tim Hardaway Jr. to a four-year, $71-million contract. The Knicks will introduce Hardaway at a news conference Monday.

Mills wouldn't be making such moves, and engaging teams -- particularly the Rockets -- on Carmelo Anthony trade talks if he wasn't firmly planted in his position.

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Griffin, a well-respected front-office executive, worked for the Cavaliers since 2010 as a vice president of basketball operations and then general manager. In his three seasons as GM, the Cavaliers reached three straight NBA Finals and won one championship. They didn't renew his contract after this season. Before that Griffin spent 17 seasons in the Phoenix Suns' front office.

It's unclear where the Knicks will turn now.

Other names that had been linked to the Knicks included Spurs president R.C. Buford, Raptors president Masai Ujiri and Thunder general manager Sam Presti. But the Knicks likely would run into a similar situation in that each man would want his own people to join him.

Additionally, they're all under contract so it would take compensation. Giving up first-round picks is not appealing to the Knicks, who are rebuilding and more than likely will be in the lottery again.

The Knicks already ended their pursuit of Ujiri for that reason.

Mills will seek other candidates while continuing to put together the Knicks' roster. They haven't reached the playoffs for four straight years, and are going with a youth movement this season.

After making the Hardaway signing official, the Knicks released a statement from Mills saying, "he will fit right into the core of players that make up a roster emphasizing youth, athleticism, accountability and unselfishness."

That sure sounds like Anthony's days as a Knick are numbered.

The Knicks are building around Kristaps Porzingis, Willy Hernangomez, Hardaway and first-round pick Frank Ntilikina. They're still looking for a veteran point guard to help mentor Ntilikina, who will be 19 when the season starts.

The Hardaway signing left the Knicks with about $2 million in cap space and the $4.3 million room exception to sign players. Rajon Rondo and Derrick Rose are the best point guards on the market.

The Knicks could open up more cap space if they deal Anthony. The Rockets are said to be turning their attention to acquiring Anthony, who reportedly is willing to waive his no-trade clause to play for Houston or Cleveland.


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