Former Cleveland Cavs general manager is the new basketball gambling favorite to become president of the New York Knicks, following the end of Phil Jackson’s reign of terror and after top candidate Masai Ujiri was discovered to not be cost-efficient. Thirteen-time NBA champion Jackson was introduced as the president of the Knicks after signing a five-year, $60 million contract on March 18th. The Zen Master, as he is, or rather was known, build his coaching success of the three cornerstones of Tex Winter’s triangle offense, a holistic approach to coaching, and Native American spiritual practices.
However, as people who like to spend time betting on NBA games, that was Zen and this is now. As an executive he proved to be a great player and coach. During his three-year administration of the Knickerbockers, the New York team went 80-166 and lost at least 50 games each season – including last season’s 31-51 record, and failed to return to the playoffs. Everything Zen? I don’t think so. Jackson’s tenured can be summed up as George-Steinbrenner-as-portrayed-in-Seinfeld-esque. Highlights – or rather lowlights – include going on vacation while he was supposedly looking for a new head coach, and more recently nodding off during a top prospect’s work out; though that is a second-hand rumor quoted by the WaPo. And even if it were true, maybe he was just taking a power nap. Or meditating.
On Wednesday the Knicks officially announced a mutual decision to part ways with Jackson, presumably before he got around to trading Kristaps Porziņģis – who at the moment is the team’s sole basketball gambling hope. Owner James Dolan immediately set his sights on president of the Toronto Raptors Masai Ujiri. Dolan is a big fan of Ujiri’s worked and even hired former Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment executive Tim Leiweke to conduct the search for a new president. As people who like betting on NBA games may know, Leiweke originally brought Ujiri from Denver to Toronto. However, the Nigerian-American executive recently signed a five-year contract extension with the Raptors, and word is Toronto would have asked several picks, including one in the first round, as compensation for letting go Ujiri. In light of this, the Knicks decided to not even bother asking permission to interview Ujiri.
Which brings us back to Griffin, who was responsible for bringing LeBron James back to Cleveland as well as acquiring Kevin Love from Minnesota which, among other moves, earned him the NBA Executive of the Year Award for the 2014-15 season – not to mention helping the Cavs to their first NBA championship. Nevertheless, Griffin and the Cavaliers could not reach an agreement for the former’s continuance and parted ways on June 19th. The Knicks have reportedly already opened a line of communication with Griffin and both parties are expected to converse more as the process develops. Unlike Ujiri, Griffin is a free agent no longer beholden to Cleveland. So whatever compensation is discussed it would be strictly between the Knicks and the Griffin. Needless to say, New York basketball gambling fans would hope that Griffin does for the Knicks what he did for the Cavs.