In a week where he needed one, Knicks president of basketball operations Donnie Walsh got a win.
The Knicks have hired former Nuggets GM Mark Warkentien as their director of pro personnel, the team announced Saturday. Since he was expected to be hired as a consultant so this is a much more entrenched position within the organization. Where he now fits exactly in the Knicks front office hierarchy with assistant GM Allen Houston is unclear, but he is not just on the periphery.
Officially he will report to Walsh (the de facto GM) and will work primarily on the draft and scouting, but he will also have a role in personnel decisions. Warkentien comes from Denver where he helped trade Allen Iverson for Chauncey Billups among other moves. Warkentien’s reputation is as a guy who can find talent deep in the draft and someone who has good ties to players overseas.
Oh, by the way, Warkentien has a good relationship with Carmelo Anthony and his people. That doesn’t hurt.
With rumors floating around that Knicks owner James Dolan may not pick up the extension on Walsh’s contract (he has until April 30), having two trusted soldiers in Houston and Warkentien in the front office means some kind of continuity of decisions should remain in place if Walsh is allowed to walk. That is why this is a win for Walsh. (Although you could argue this gives Dolan more leverage to move Walsh out because others are there. Go ahead and argue it if you want, I prefer not to try to think like Dolan. It gives me a headache.)
Of course, all bets are off if Dolan brings Isiah Thomas back.