June 9, 2011
New York Post
The appointment Wednesday of Tennessee basketball legend Allan Houston as general manager of the New York Knicks' new D-League team that will operate in Erie, Pa., bodes well for his team presidential future.
In a sign outgoing president Donnie Walsh and owner James Dolan consider Houston still a few years away from inheriting the throne, the former Knicks All-Star will expand his duties in running the Erie BayHawks, a new Knicks D-League undertaking. Houston is UT's all-time leading scorer (2,801 points from 1990-93) and was a two-time All-America selection.
Houston will keep his assistant general manager title. It's a good steppingstone for Houston, because Dell Demps served as a general manager when the Spurs controlled its D-League affiliate while San Antonio's assistant general manager. Demps was named as New Orleans Hornets president one year ago.
"The last three years have been a great experience for me, sitting, talking and listening to Donnie," Houston said.
"Donnie and I sat down, talked about this. He gave me this assignment. I'm excited about it. I'm looking forward to just learning more about the D-League and really more about the developing the young prospects and obviously learn more about operating a team.
"If that's what our franchise needs me to do, that's what I'm going to do." Multiple sources said Walsh and Dolan, who adores Houston, believe he needs more seasoning. Walsh will help Dolan with the presidential search in his July 1 consulting role.
"It will give Allan a feel for building a team," Walsh told The Post. "He will do well and will benefit. Allan has primary responsibility, but it is a Knick project and everyone will work on it."
Glen Grunwald will become interim president on July 1. Mark Warkentien and John Gabriel could be named co-interim general managers on July 1 during the presidential search that could take a while because of a lack of urgency stemming from the likely July 1 lockout.
Last Friday, Walsh backed out of a verbal agreement with Dolan to return next season, shocking the organization. Walsh originally hired Houston, saying he wanted to groom him.
"Donnie's been a great adviser, mentor and leader to all of us," Houston said. "We'll continue to still lean on him. He'll run our draft and be the decision-maker. Following that, our job is each of us individually to do whatever we can to assist and use what we learned and he taught us. I expect to continue to lean on him and rely on his sound advice."
The Knicks so-called "hybrid affiliation" with the Bayhawks is a major philosophical change because the Knicks are the lone NBA team that has yet to send one of its players to the D-League. Just three NBA teams run their D-League affiliate.
Sources said the Knicks did not trust the coaching and medical staffs because they did not work for the club. This will change everything. The D-League still will operate despite the lockout, but likely without players whose rights are NBA-owned. The Knicks originally looked into a D-League franchise in Harlem. A source said Houston will keep the BayHawks coaching staff.
Erie owner Steve Demetriou said yesterday the Knicks' "main reason" to operate a D-League team stems from "complementing" Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony after this past season's roster-ravaging trade.