Knicks owner James Dolan has fired Phil Jackson from his post as New York’s president of basketball operations. Jackson posted an 80-166 record as an executive, publicly said Carmelo Anthony should leave New York (twice), then burned bridges by fielding trade calls on Kristaps Porzingis. It was a nightmare to say the least.
Dolan is eyeing Toronto Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri as Jackson’s potential replacement, according to The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The Knicks have tabbed Tim Leweike, who hired Ujiri in Toronto, to advise them on their direction moving forward.
But Ujiri to the Knicks is probably a pipe dream. Here’s why:
- The Raptors just gave Masai Ujiri a promotion. In September, the two sides agreed to a multi-year extension and an upgrade from general manager to president of basketball operations. That’s not something you just up and leave.
- Ujiri has unfinished business in Toronto. Ujiri assembled one of the strongest teams in the Eastern Conference. He maneuvered the salary cap to put a team of Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, DeMarre Carroll, Serge Ibaka, and Jonas Valanciunas on the court. The Raptors were eventually swept by the Cavaliers in the second round of the East playoffs, but many feel they could have had a chance had Lowry not injured his wrist shortly after the trade deadline.
- He’s ripped off the Knicks twice. First as GM of the Nuggets, he traded Melo and Chauncey Billups to the Knicks for every asset imaginable: Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov, and a 2014 first-round pick. (This pick was traded to Philadelphia and became Dario Saric.) He became Raptors GM, where he traded Andrea Bargnani to the Knicks for Marcus Camby, Steve Novak, Quentin Richardson, and the No. 9 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft that the Raptors used to pick Jakob Poeltl.
Ujiri to the Knicks sounds nice. He won Executive of the Year in 2013 and is talented at dealing with players and agents. But it’s probably too good to be true.
Luckily, anything’s better than guy who just got canned.