While his arrival would’ve without a doubt given the Knicks an experienced mind in the front office, no one should’ve expected Steve Mills to surrender any power to David Griffin.
Sunday afternoon, news broke that former Cleveland Cavaliers general manager David Griffin withdrew his name from consideration for a position in the front office of the New York Knicks.
Griffin doing so came after he and current general manager, Steve Mills, were unable to find common ground on what his role would be in the front office.
After mutually failing to find an appropriate role for him, many are fuming as to why the Knicks couldn’t possibly lock up a deal with Griffin — particularly given his championship resume.
In 2016, Griffin put together a team that upset the 73-win Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals; Griffin is credited with making the appropriate roster moves to help facilitate that championship team. That feat had many fans sharing the belief that he would be the perfect man to come in and help change the Knicks’ franchise for the better.
An impressive feat or not, no one in their right mind should’ve expected Mills to allow Griffin to have so much power, regardless of his success in the past.
First off, in any pursuit of Griffin or any other general manager, the Knicks were discussing promoting Mills to the president of basketball operations — which would’ve allowed him to oversee all transactions made. That means that even if Griffin accepted the role he was offered, he wouldn’t have had the final say; he also wouldn’t have been able to bring in a staff of his liking — which Griffin would’ve wanted to go forth with, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post.
If Griffin was brought into the organization, there would have been a limit to his power, specifically because Mills would want to have some control over him — which is the reason why no one should’ve expected Griffin to want the position with the organization in the first place.
Griffin is a proven general manager and a GM with his resume should have the right to run an organization exactly to his liking. However, the Knicks are too stubborn to allow such change to transpire and Mills himself is a big part of that. His stubbornness makes some sense though, given that he finally has the golden opportunity of running the show in New York — a privilege which he was previously stripped of in 2014.
Back in 2013, owner James Dolan hired Mills to be the team’s general manager after he cut ties with Glen Grunwald. The Knicks struggled immensely in his first go in the position, but Dolan unfairly threw him a curveball before the year ended.
By hiring Phil Jackson to come in and be the team’s president of basketball operations on an insane five-year, $60 million deal, Mills was stripped of his power, in regards to having final say in making roster and/or personnel moves. Making such a drastic change before the year even ended was unfair to Mills, as he should’ve, at the very least, been able to finish out the year. It was also unfair on his part, given that Jackson had no experience as an executive.
From the time Jackson inked that deal, to the moment he was essentially fired by Dolan (which was a three year period), Mills had little to no power. With Jackson now out of the picture, Mills finally has the chance to be “the” guy in the front office — which hiring Griffin would’ve prevented him from doing.
Mills has never had the luxury of running the Knicks for a reasonable amount of time. Now, he has that chance, so to think that he’d just give that opportunity up not even a month into the role was unwise from the get-go.
Is Griffin a more proven name around the association? Yes, no doubt about it. But ultimately, there was no possible way Mills was or is going to allow any new name come into the front office and take away his chance to run the team — no matter the pedigree.
At the end of the day, some around the organization and many amongst the fanbase are going to view not snatching Griffin as a missed opportunity or one that reflects negatively towards Mills and Dolan.
While those assumptions may come from a reasonable point of view, the reality is that no one should’ve expected Mills to surrender his power of running the Knicks to anyone — even Griffin — given that he’s finally been granted the opportunity to run the show.