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Tag:James Dolan
Posted on: February 18, 2011 3:58 am
 

Welcome to the Melo free-agent summit

LOS ANGELES -- Amid revived discussions between the Nuggets and Nets on a blockbuster trade that would send Carmelo Anthony to New Jersey, the tipping point remains as it has always been: Will Anthony take the ultimate deciding step and meet with Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov to indicate his willingness to sign a contract extension as part of a trade?

A possible three-team deal in which the Nets would give up a staggering haul of four first-round picks to lure the three-time All Star away from his preferred choice, the Knicks, cannot move forward without the Nets' owner finally getting his chance to sell Anthony on being the centerpiece of the franchise's move to Brooklyn. However, CBSSports.com has learned that Anthony personally has not agreed to such a meeting during All-Star weekend, despite reports that his representatives have already arranged it.

The New York Daily News reported Friday that Anthony is scheduled not only to meet with Prokhorov, but also Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan -- setting up dueling free-agent summits reminiscent of the teams' courtship of LeBron James in July.

A firm answer won't come until Friday afternoon, when Anthony will address the media as part of the scheduled All-Star interview sessions. The opportunity to meet with Prokhorov -- if, in fact, the Russian has changed his mind about ending his team's pursuit of Anthony -- represents the final step in determining whether the Nets' months-long pursuit of the All-Star can continue or not. After it became known that the Nets and Nuggets had re-engaged in talks after Prokhorov ordered GM Billy King to walk away from the negotiating table Jan. 19, Prokhorov's spokesperson, Ellen Pinchuk, told the Associated Press, "Mikhail has not changed his mind."

The latest incarnation of the New Jersey deal has the Nets sending Derrick Favors, Devin Harris and Ben Uzoh to the Nuggets along with four first-round picks for Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Shelden Williams, and Renaldo Balkman. In addition, Yahoo! Sports reported that Troy Murphy and his $12 million expiring contract would be sent to a third team, which would receive compensation in the form of one or two of the first-round picks from New Jersey.

The Nuggets, who privately have expected to someday revive the New Jersey talks since Prokhorov ended them last month, prefer this deal to anything the Knicks have been willing to offer. One person connected to the talks described the New Jersey deal as a leverage play that would force the Knicks to come to the table with their best offer for Anthony, who has long been determined to agree to a three-year, $65 million extension only with the Knicks if traded before the Feb. 24 deadline.

"It's good pressure for the Knicks," the person connected to the talks said.

The Knicks have balked at Denver's demands for Anthony, believing their best chance to build a championship team around the All-Star tandem of Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire would be to sign Anthony as a free agent after he opts out of his $18.5 million contract for next season. Knicks president Donnie Walsh and coach Mike D'Antoni have remained steadfast in their belief that they cannot afford to gut the team to get Anthony and leave themselves without payroll flexibility to build around him -- flexibility Walsh spent the past 2 1-2 years creating after years of mismanagement at Madison Square Garden.

Indeed, Prokhorov won't be the only billionaire roaming the hotel hallways in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles Friday. Dolan's presence for league meetings and a collective bargaining session has further stoked speculation that he will overrule his basketball people and authorize a lopsided trade in the face of the Nuggets' renewed leverage with the Nets.

Anthony has delivered consistently mixed signals about his willingness to meet with Prokhorov, a necessary step in completing the trade to New Jersey. When stories broke prematurely last month that the Nuggets had given the Nets permission to speak with Anthony directly, Anthony reacted dismissively after a game in San Antonio and said, "I let the front office handle that type of stuff. ... That's not my job to do."

Days later, after Prokhorov pulled the plug, Anthony conceded, "I would've taken that meeting."

This weekend in L.A., it will be hard for this sought-after millionaire to hide from the billionaires courting him.





Posted on: January 30, 2011 10:51 pm
 

Warkentien could bolster Knicks' Melo chances

Revenge, as they say, is sweet. 

Back in August, Nuggets GM Mark Warkentien thought he was going to continue negotiating the two most important contract extensions in the organization's history -- those of Carmelo Anthony and coach George Karl. The fact that Warkentien had been ostracized in the very organization he'd positioned for a run to the Western Conference finals a little more than a year earlier, though, amounted to the writing on the wall. 

Warkentien, the 2009 NBA executive of the year, was let go along with fellow front-office type Rex Chapman in a complete purge of the Nuggets' management team. This was after Warkentien had been insulted with an offer to take a roughly 50 percent pay cut -- with some of the difference possibly to be made up through incentive clauses. (And maybe some Wal-Mart coupons.) 

Within weeks of owner Stan Kroenke's decision to turn the organization over to his son, Josh, and former Raptors executive Masai Ujiri, Anthony's camp began informing the team that he would not be signing a three-year, $65 million extension and wanted a trade. Nuggets advisor Brett Bearup subsequently was let go, and the Nuggets believed they had made a fresh start in their efforts to make the best of the Anthony situation. 

Only one problem: Warkentien, who knows where all the bodies are buried in Denver and has a strong relationship with Anthony, is about to be employed by the enemy. A person close to Warkentien confirmed a report Sunday night by Yahoo! Sports that the Knicks intend to hire Warkentien as a high-level consultant. The move, which has yet to be finalized, represents the first step in Knicks president Donnie Walsh's long-time efforts to hire a right-hand man. In the past, he had considered Warkentien, former Warriors executive Chris Mullin, and former Trail Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard, while coach Mike D'Antoni had some other candidates in mind. 

After Garden chairman James Dolan's clumsy attempt at hiring former coach and president Isiah Thomas was thoroughly repudiated by Walsh, the decision to go with Warkentien is the strongest sign yet that Walsh -- whose fingerprints are all over the Knicks' revival -- will chart the course for the long-term future of the franchise, too. 

Walsh's contract has a team option that must be picked up by April 1. While the addition of Warkentien as a consultant is viewed by those close to the situation as a prelude to an expanded and more permanent role, sources also say that not only is Walsh's option expected to be picked up, but his contract may be extended as well. Though Walsh has made no noise about wanting the extension, he has expressed to confidants a strong desire to see the Knicks' rebuilding through after overcoming a series of health issues in recent months. After returning to Madison Square Garden recently after undergoing hip replacement surgery, Walsh has been described by friends as especially enthusiastic and strong-willed about completing the massive restoration project. 

So while the addition of Warkentien, a shrewd negotiator with a reputation as a relentless scout, bodes well for a Walsh-driven front-office structure going forward, the natural question is as follows: What does this mean for the Knicks' pursuit of Anthony? On one hand, teaming Warkentien with Walsh on the Denver trade negotiations would make it a decidedly unfair fight -- combining Walsh's experience with Warkentien's direct knowledge of the Denver power structure and Stan Kroenke's tendencies and psychology when it comes to deal-making. Sources say that Warkentien long ago zeroed in on Kroenke's negotiating weakness in any Anthony trade: his obsessive pursuit of cost-cutting. As Warkentien learned in a negotiating class he recently took at Harvard, the best way to win a negotiation is to know what the opponent wants and where his weaknesses are. 

But it is difficult to predict how Kroenke, who is still ultimately calling the shots behind the curtain while his son and Ujiri handle the day-to-day business, will respond to the Knicks' hiring of Warkentien. It is possible, according to one source who understands Denver's still complicated organization dynamics, that Kroenke would stubbornly recoil from any talks with the Knicks and refuse to give Anthony his wish -- or give Warkentien the satisfaction. Also possible, the source noted, is that Kroenke would redouble efforts to once again engage the Nets in trade talks as a far more palatable option than dealing with Warkentien. Another person with direct knowledge of the Nuggets' trade discussions has told CBSSports.com on multiple occasions recently that the Anthony talks have not evolved since the Nets dropped out last week. One reason may have been the Knicks' impending hiring of Warkentien, which sources say leaked to some members of Denver's basketball operations. 

One way or another, it would appear that Warkentien will play a prominent role in the Knicks' pursuit of Anthony -- via a trade or as a free agent. Warkentien is believed to be on board with the notion that Anthony wouldn't lose nearly as much money as some pundits think if he were to play out the season and become a free agent under a new collective bargaining agreement. Estimates showing that Anthony would lose $40 million in such a scenario are nothing short of irresponsible. 

Imagine the irony, though, if Warkentien ultimately winds up signing Anthony to a contract with the Knicks -- a contract he thought he'd be finalizing with the Nuggets last August. The plot, as they say, thickens.
Posted on: August 11, 2010 6:24 pm
Edited on: August 11, 2010 7:48 pm
 

Isiah not taking Knicks job (UPDATE)


NEW YORK -- Not surprisingly, Isiah Thomas and the Knicks aren't reuniting after all. The deposed team president will not take a consulting job with the Knicks, citing the NBA rules that forbid the arrangement.

After nearly three days of reviewing league policies that apply to the consulting arrangement Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan tried to arrange with Thomas, the Knicks and NBA officials reached the only conclusion possible: Thomas' job as basketball coach at Florida International clearly disqualifies him from working in any capacity for an NBA team. League rules strictly prohibit any coach, scout, executive, consultant or anyone else remotely employed in basketball operations with an NBA team from having any contact with draft-ineligible players. Such contact, obviously, is a key part of a college basketball coach's job.

"After speaking with Commissioner Stern and Knicks executives, it has become apparent that my new agreement violates certain NBA by-laws," Thomas said in a statement. "Because of this, I have decided to rescind my contract with the team.

"I have nothing but the utmost respect for Jim Dolan, Donnie Walsh, Mike D'Antoni and the entire Knicks organization, and I want to thank them for affording me this opportunity. One of the biggest regrets of my life is that the Knicks didn't perform up to the standards the fans had every right to expect while I was in charge. I take full responsibility for that. I was very much looking forward to this unique opportunity to help the organization do what I do best: find basketball talent. I wish the team nothing but success in the future."

The Knicks announced Friday that they were hiring Thomas -- whose scorched-Earth tenure as Knicks president and coach ended with the hiring of Walsh as team president in April 2008 -- as a consultant to advise the organization in a variety of ways. Among Thomas'
duties was to "provide valuable insight and analysis of young prospects from around the world."

As CBSSports.com reported Monday , such an arrangement was a clear violation of the NBA Constitution and By-Laws, which do not even allow basketball operations employees with NBA teams to publicly speak about high school, college or international players not yet eligible for the NBA draft -- much less have direct contact with them.

In announcing that Thomas was voiding his contract, officials with the NBA and the Knicks made efforts to minimize the public-relations embarrassment the team would endure as a result. This was obvious in the timing of the public announcements on the Thomas fiasco Tuesday: First, Isiah's statement. Then, a thumb-in-the-eye to Knicks fans from Dolan, who praised Walsh and D'Antoni in a release issued by the team but said he was "disappointed" he couldn't hire Thomas and that he will "continue to solicit his views."

"I continue to believe in his basketball knowledge, including his ability to judge talent," Dolan said of Isiah in a rare public pronouncement. "He's a good friend of mine and of the organization and I will continue to solicit his views. He will always have strong ties to me and the team. We wish him continued success at FIU. I also believe Donnie Walsh has done a terrific job since joining the Knicks and my tremendous respect for him has only grown since he's joined the organization. I'm confident that the work that Donnie, Coach Mike D'Antoni and their staffs have done this summer has the team poised for long-term success."

Finally, a classically subdued missive from Stern, who said in a statement from the league office that there was no need for him to take action since Thomas' contract had been voided. (Gee, I wonder why?)

"However, we have reminded the Knicks of NBA rules that prohibit team personnel, including consultants, from having contact with players not eligible for the draft," Stern said.

Anyway, the fallout from attempting to circumvent NBA rules -- or simply being unaware of them -- will be nothing compared to the public scorn heaped on the Knicks for even contemplating a reunion with Thomas in the first place. His tenure as team president and then coach featured ill-conceived trades (Stephon Marbury, Eddy Curry), a sexual harassment lawsuit that cost Madison Square Garden and Dolan $11.5 million, and a salary-cap mess that took Walsh more than two years to clean up.

The announcement of Thomas' ill-fated reunion with the team also overshadowed a rare run of positive developments for the Knicks, who made credible pitches to sign free agents LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, landed power forward Amar'e Stoudemire instead, and have the flexibility to add a second max player through trades or as a free agent next summer. The biggest damage may have been inflicted on Walsh and D'Antoni, whose reputations were cast in a poor light by Dolan's belief that the team couldn't attract future free agents without Thomas' credibility as a Hall of Fame former player.

Sources say some elements of the Knicks' power structure -- i.e. Dolan -- believed after the failed bid for James and Wade that Thomas and his credibility with star players was needed to close the deal on future signings. Thomas, in fact, played un undefined role in the team's recruitment of Stoudemire, and also landed a meeting with James' associates during a failed 11th-hour bid to persuade the former Cav to join the Knicks. Walsh went out of his way to thank Thomas for his help in landing Stoudemire, a move that was met with head-scratching gazes in the media audience during Stoudemire's introductory news conference last month.

What has to scare Knicks fans even more than Dolan's continued belief in Thomas is the fact that Thomas could regain eligibility to work for the Knicks simply by quitting his job as Florida International coach. So it is possible that Knicks fans haven't heard the last from Isiah.

But then, who ever does?












Posted on: August 10, 2010 7:02 pm
 

Candidates selling Melo in pursuit of Knicks job

NEW YORK -- We're barely a month removed from the biggest free-agent feeding frenzy in NBA history, and already the next wave has begun.

The Knicks' controversial attempt to hire Isiah Thomas as a consultant hasn't dissuaded candidates from pitching themselves as the right man for a job that team president Donnie Walsh has left vacant since he was hired two years ago -- a day-to-day GM who eventually would succeed him. The latest twist, according to sources familiar with the situation, has potential candidates angling to present themselves to Walsh and Garden chairman James Dolan as the man who is capable of delivering Carmelo Anthony as a free agent next summer.

The overtures have fallen on deaf ears with Walsh for two reasons, sources say: 1) Walsh has yet to receive clearance to hire a general manager to handle the day-to-day basketball operations, and 2) The respected, 69-year-old executive has grown tired of the free-agent recruitment game and the dishonest pitches that invariably come with it.

Walsh's desire to decompress from the untoward free-agent hysteria, however, didn't stop Dolan from hiring Thomas -- who was ousted and replaced by Walsh and coach Mike D'Antoni in 2008 -- as a consultant whose primary duty will be to recruit free agents. Sources say the hiring may very well be struck down by the NBA, which has strict rules against team employees having contact with high school, college and international players not yet eligible for the NBA draft.

Thomas positioned himself to return to the Knicks by convincing Dolan that he played an important role in the team landing free-agent power forward Amar'e Stoudemire this summer. The Knicks struck out on LeBron James and Dwyane Wade and decided they needed someone with Thomas' clout to ensure it wouldn't happen again.

But Thomas isn't the only current or former NBA executive trying to tout himself as the man who can persuade Anthony, a free agent next summer, to join Stoudemire with the Knicks. Part of that strategy, sources say, includes efforts on the part of at least one candidate to pitch himself to Creative Artists Agency -- the firm that represents Anthony -- as an addition to the Knicks' front office who could bring Anthony with him.

Walsh has had it on the back burner for some time to hire a lead assistant with a big enough profile -- and substantial enough resume -- to replace him when he retires. Such a move would create a rare spasm of continuity for an organization that had known nothing but change and turmoil prior to Walsh's hiring two years ago. Strong indications within the organization this summer have pointed to former player Allan Houston being groomed as Walsh's successor. Houston impressed Dolan and other team officials with his performance in an expanded role during the free-agency period this summer.

Walsh is two years into a four-year contract, and the Knicks must decide by March 31, 2011 whether to guarantee the final year of the deal.

Anthony, an ideal fit for the Knicks, already has told confidants this summer that he's eager to explore playing in New York. His dilemma is whether to turn down a three-year, $65 million extension offer from the Nuggets with only 10 months left in the current collective bargaining agreement. The new deal is expected to be much less lucrative for players. Sources say owners who were rattled by this summer's free-agent frenzy -- orchestrated by CAA, which represented James, Wade and Chris Bosh -- are determined to clamp down not only on player salaries in the new agreement, but also player movement.

Anthony's desire to play in New York is so strong, sources say, that those close to the three-time All-Star have scoffed at the efforts of executives touting themselves as being able to deliver him.

"Carmelo already wants to play in New York," one person with knowledge of his plans told CBSSports.com. "He doesn't need anybody to bring him there. He's a gunslinger. That situation is perfect for him."

Anthony's teammate, Chauncey Billups, said after Team USA practice Tuesday that he still doesn't know whether Anthony will sign the extension or test the free-agent waters next summer.

"If I was a betting man? I don’t know," Billups said. "Of course, I'm biased because I'm playing on the team that he’s playing on. But I'm optimistic that he’s going to come back and play for the Nuggets. I know he loves the city. Shoot, he’s been there since he was 20 years old. So I'm optimistic, but I don’t know. I wish I did, but I don’t."



Posted on: August 10, 2010 6:06 pm
Edited on: August 10, 2010 7:13 pm
 

Boeheim: Isiah's Knicks deal 'doesn't make sense'

NEW YORK -- Three members of the Team USA coaching staff weighed in Tuesday on the Knicks' controversial hiring of Isiah Thomas as a consultant, with Mike Krzyzewski and Jim Boeheim saying it crossed a line that shouldn't be crossed.

"If it’s good one place, then it’s good anywhere," Boeheim said after the U.S. men's national team scrimmaged on the city's West Side in preparation for the upcoming FIBA World Championships in Turkey. "You throw all that out there, and it wouldn’t be good. It doesn’t make much sense to me. I just don’t think it’s a good thing."

Krzyzewski, head coach of the U.S. team that opened a week-long training camp in New York, was more measured in his opinions on the Knicks' decision to employ Thomas, a former team president and currently an NCAA head coach at Florida International. Saying Thomas is his friend, Krzyzewski stopped short of saying the arrangement was unseemly, but made it clear that it wasn't something he'd do.

But the coach with the largest crowd of reporters around him was the Knicks' Mike D'Antoni, a Team USA assistant who will not be traveling to Turkey as he treats a back problem. D'Antoni struggled to put a positive spin on the return of Thomas to the organization that ousted him after an embarrassing tenure as both team president and coach. Aside from the obvious conflict of interest -- and strong possibility that the hiring is a violation of NBA rules -- some have painted Thomas' return as a reflection of how Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan views the performance of D'Antoni and team president Donnie Walsh.

Several times during an interview session with reporters on the practice court at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, D'Antoni repeated that Thomas' vaguely defined role within the Knicks' hierarchy is "not my area." D'Antoni said he learned of the decision "like everybody else" -- in a news release distributed Friday by the Knicks.

"He is a Hall of Famer and he’s one of the top 50 players in the game and he has a lot of credibility out there," D'Antoni said. "Donnie is very smart to be able to tap into him when he needs him, and if it’s an advantage to the Knicks, we’ll use it. That’s about all there is. There’s not a whole lot else to it."

Asked if the Knicks' attempt to bring Thomas back into the power structure from which he was ousted only two years ago reflected poorly on Walsh's standing with Dolan, D'Antoni said, "Donnie is running the show. He’s made some unbelievable moves up til now and we’ve got a nice young team coming on. I hate all the hoopla on the other end, but we should be focused on the upcoming season. That’s kind of what I’m focused on."

Dolan's decision to re-employ Thomas, according to sources, stemmed from the team's disappointing recruitment of top free agents this summer. After the team fell short in its pursuit of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade -- who united with Chris Bosh in Miami -- some elements within the organization became convinced that the team needed someone of Thomas' stature as a Hall of Fame player to close the deal with future free agents Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul or Tony Parker. Thomas, in fact, sold himself to Dolan as having played an important role in the Knicks' signing of Amar'e Stoudemire and also secured an 11th-hour meeting with James' representatives in a failed attempt to steer him to the Knicks.

But even if the Knicks attempted to narrowly define Thomas' role simply as a free-agent recruiter, sources have told CBSSports.com that the arrangement will nonetheless have a difficult time withstanding the test of the NBA rulebook. The league's constitution and by-laws explicitly forbid any NBA coach, scout, executive or consultant from having contact with draft-ineligible players -- an obvious requirement of an NCAA coach's job. League officials and lawyers are in the process of reviewing the legality of Thomas' hiring.

Boeheim, whose Syracuse team famously lost the 1987 NCAA championship game to Thomas' alma mater, Indiana, on Keith Smart's game-winning shot, doesn't need lawyers to tell him the arrangement makes no sense.

"You would maybe understand it if it was a guy that was retired and had tremendous success in the NBA and won something -- anything," Boeheim said. "And somebody said, 'Well, why don’t you just give us your sense of things.' I could see that. But I can't see this."


 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com