It appears Phil Jackson’s long-term successor will be both his predecessor and temporary replacement.
Steve Mills, a longtime on and off Knicks employee, ran their front office for a few months before they hired Jackson. Demoted during Jackson’s tenure, Mills is again in charge. And – as he hoped – he might stay in charge.
According to sources debriefed on their front-office search, owner James Dolan is moving forward with a plan that has Steve Mills remaining as the permanent president. No negotiations have taken place yet between the Knicks and Mills.
However, subsequent interviews will be done to find a No. 2 man under Mills, who will be part of the process from here on. Just as Jackson did, Mills is expected to have final say on personnel matters.
Mills’ No. 2 might be Allan Houston. The Knicks, who badly need established outside perspective – and pay wages that could often draw it – are so incestuous.
Mills seized control of the job while on interim status, signing Tim Hardaway Jr. to a four-year, $71 million deal that shocked some even within the organization. Then, in a perfectly Knicks follow-up, Mills skipped Hardaway Jr.’s press conference, an opportunity to explain the contract.
The Knicks have major issues. Carmelo Anthony, who possesses a no-trade clause, features prominently in tricky trade talks. Joakim Noah and, to lesser degrees, Lance Thomas and Courtney Lee (and maybe soon, Hardaway), are on burdensome long-term contracts. Rising star Kristaps Porzingis has been somewhat alienated by the organization.
Is Mills up to the task? Maybe.
My bigger question: If Mills weren’t already working for the Knicks, would Dolan have entrusted him with this job? I doubt it.
A halfhearted search yields a halfhearted result.
At least, if the Knicks were hiring their new president exclusively among former presidents, it could have been worse.