While Knicks President Donnie Walsh insists health problems will not force him to leave his post, many suitors are already in line to become his successor.
Entering the final year of his contract, Walsh, now 69 years old, is undecided about his future. He finally, however, has seemingly returned the Knicks to respectability by reshaping the team with Amare Stoudemire and company this summer.
Houston may be the clear favorite out of those three to potentially replace Walsh when the time comes, but there are outside candidates as well.
While owner James Dolan’s plans to bring Isiah Thomas back to the Knicks have been initially foiled by the NBA, there is always a possibly he could return for a second run as general manager.
The New York Daily News reports that Chris Mullin, who was acquired by Walsh as a Pacer during his playing days, may be Walsh’s personal choice to be his replacement.
Mullin is also coincidentally in Italy this week, the same time as the Knicks. His presence is as a representative of the NBA, though, not the team.
After growing up in Brooklyn and playing his college ball at St. John's, Mullin is no stranger to the city. He was previously the G.M. of the Don Nelson-led (the more recent, second stint) Warriors, so there is no doubt he could work well with the high-octane offense personnel already in place by Walsh.
In fact, Mullin is very familiar with certain Knicks, having drafted Anthony Randolph and signing Kelenna Azubuike and Ronny Turiaf to contracts while with the Warriors.
Although Mullin received criticism for signing players like Corey Maggette, Erick Dampier, and most notably Adonal Foyle to unnecessarily big contracts, he was also the man who brought playoff basketball back to the Bay Area.
Taking risks, Mullin acquired expensive two-time All-Star (but the oft-injured) Baron Davis and brought back Hall of Fame coach Don Nelson in hope of more success.
The risks paid off. Reaching the playoffs for the first time since 1994, the Warriors stunned the NBA as they defeated the first-seeded Mavericks as an eighth-seeded squad in 2007.
He is also still receiving praise (as the selection continues to pay dividends) for the drafting of Monta Ellis in 2005.
Mullin proved with the Warriors that he will do whatever it takes to put his team in the best position to win.
The positives outweigh the negatives on Mullin’s resume. In regards to the bigger contracts he offered, Mullin should not be blamed for “overpaying” for serviceable big men. As any general manager learns, big men command such money one way or another, regardless of talent.
Corey Maggette is also an impressive talent. After signing players like Jamal Crawford and Eddy Curry to ill-advised larger contracts, there is no telling what kind of contract a GM like Thomas would have given Maggette.
However, the Knicks now have much bigger fish to attract than ever before. With Amare Stoudemire already in place, the team appears to be a playoff contender.
Mullin would have to join the Knicks knowing full well the team wants to elevate itself into a championship contender. The recruitment of the likes of Carmelo Anthony, Tony Parker, and/or Chris Paul (all of whom will be free agents in the near future) would be a big first step in that direction.
But yet, who better to sell superstars on the potential of the New York Knicks than a local hero who knows exactly what it’s like to ascend from an underdog to a contender (both as a player and executive)?
Although he is sure to have a lot of competition, Chris Mullin is looking like a prime candidate to be the next general manager of the Knicks.
For Keith's Knicks coverage and much more, visit Knicks Journal.
Follow Knicks Journal on Twitter.