NEW YORK -- The New York Knicks' decision to fire their D-League coach shouldn't be seen as some kind of tipping point that signifies changes may be coming to the team’s front office.
However, privately, members of the Knicks' front office have been expecting team president Phil Jackson to make changes for a while now. League sources with knowledge of the situation said earlier this week that some front-office members are just “waiting for the other shoe to drop” when it comes to the possibility of Jackson reshaping the organization's management team.
When Jackson started the job, he said he would take several months to assess the organization and get to know the people who were working under him. Thus far, his biggest non-player decision was firing Mike Woodson after last season and hiring Derek Fisher. Jackson also added longtime Bulls scout and front office member Clarence Gaines Jr., but has largely kept the rest of the staff intact. He retained Steve Mills as general manager, Allan Houston as assistant GM and Mark Warkentien as director of pro player personnel.
But, according to sources, members of the Knicks' front office believe that changes may be coming -- possibly as soon as this offseason. The feeling of pending unrest, sources say, wasn’t spurred by the firing of D-League coach Kevin Whitted.
Whitted’s firing, according to sources, was tied to Jackson’s displeasure over the record of the D-League team's record. The Westchester Knicks were 10-36 under Whitted, who was hired by Houston back in October.
“Our focus remains on developing players and preparing them for the next step in their careers,” Houston said in a statement released Monday morning. “The support from the fans and the entire community in our inaugural season has been tremendous. We wish Kevin the best in his future endeavors.”
Whitted was replaced by assistant coach Craig Hodges, a Westchester assistant coach who played three seasons for Phil Jackson with the Chicago Bulls.
Hodges was given the title of interim coach and didn’t say anything about the possibility of coaching next season when asked about it after Monday’s game. Hodges insisted he’s instead focused on the present, which includes continuing to teach the triangle offense to the team’s players over their final three games.