NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Knicks are apparently thinking about poaching an executive from a division rival to replace Phil Jackson.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, New York has its eyes on Toronto Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri to take over as team president.
On Wednesday morning, Knicks owner James Dolan pulled the plug on Jackson following three tumultuous seasons that featured just 80 wins in 246 game and no playoff appearances. Four months ago, Dolan said he planned to stick with Jackson through the end of the five-year, $60 million contract he signed prior to the start of the 2014-15 season.
However, a ton of losses and internal strife involving Jackson’s relationship with star players Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis appeared to short-circuit Dolan’s allegiance.
Ujiri was named NBA Executive of the Year back in 2013 while serving as the Denver Nuggets’ executive vice president in charge of basketball operations. He later signed a five-year contract to become the GM of the Raptors.
The Nigerian-born Ujiri, who will turn 47 on July 7, led the Raptors to three straight first-place finishes in the Atlantic Division, a run that ended with a second-place showing this past season. The Raptors were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in 2014 and ’15, but advanced out of the opening round the last two seasons.
Steve Mills, the Knicks’ current general manager, will guide the Knicks through the offseason, starting with free agency, which begins Saturday with teams allowed to reach verbal agreements with players. Signings don’t become official until July 6 at noon.
The Knicks finished 31-51 in 2016-17 and have missed the playoffs the last four seasons. They still have to figure out what to do with Anthony, who Jackson had wanted to trade but had a hard time doing so due to the star forward’s no-trade clause.
Porzinigs was also mentioned prominently in trade reports up until last week’s NBA Draft. It remains to be seen if he will eventually be signed to a long-term extension.