Analysis: What Mills means for the Knicks

Some see these guys as an unholy trinity. Will they be reunited? Or is two out of three not so bad? REUTERS/Mike Segar

NEW YORK -- The Knicks announced Thursday that former team executive Steve Mills will be back in the fold, replacing GM Glen Grunwald. Here's what the move may mean for the organization going forward:

BIGGER ROLE FOR ALLAN HOUSTON: Houston, the Knicks' assistant general manager, will likely see his profile and responsibilities grow now that Grunwald is out. Mills is a top-notch executive with solid connections around the league, but he is not known as a talent evaluator. It's fair to assume that Houston, a longtime Knicks player with close ties to team owner and MSG chairman James Dolan, will play a bigger role in talent evaluation and personnel decisions. Houston will likely be aided by fellow Knicks veteran personnel men Mark Warkentien and John Gabriel along the way.

WILL ISIAH THOMAS BE BACK? Probably not in any official capacity. Mills previously worked with the Knicks for 10 years as president of MSG Sports (Dolan oversees MSG as its executive chairman) and hired Thomas to run the Knicks. But Thomas and Mills reportedly had a falling out over how things unfolded during the Anucha Browne Sanders sexual harassment lawsuit. Browne Sanders, the Knicks' former senior vice president of marketing and business operations, successfully sued MSG; a jury in October 2007 ordered the Knicks to pay her $11.6 million after finding she endured crude insults and unwanted advances from then-coach Thomas.

Don't forget, though: Thomas will always have Dolan's ear as an unofficial adviser. Dolan admitted as much when his attempt to hire Thomas fell through in 2010.

WHY NOW? It's certainly strange to shake up the front office with training camp practice set to start Tuesday. One thing is clear: Dolan was not comfortable with Grunwald running the team heading into what could be its next overhaul in 2015. The contracts of Amar'e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler, Andrea Bargnani and Carmelo Anthony will come off the books going into the 2015-16 season, so the Knicks will have a chance to overhaul the roster in the summer of 2015. The team hopes that Anthony, who can opt out of his contract after this season, can be a part of that overhaul.

Dolan could have been upset over the Nets winning the battle of the headlines this summer from the Knicks. That would be a petty reason to get rid of Grunwald, who did a solid job in the offseason, given the Knicks' cap situation.

There's also a theory among those familiar with the Knicks' politics that Thursday's move paved the way for Houston to take over as president and GM in the future. Elevating Houston to president and GM now would make him culpable for Grunwald losing his title. Grunwald will remain with the Knicks as an adviser.

TROUBLE FOR MIKE WOODSON? The reassignment of Grunwald may mean less job security for the Knicks' head coach. Woodson's contract has a team option for next season. With Grunwald out, there is one less voice in the room to support the coach when the front office and Dolan discuss Woodson's future. Woodson and Grunwald are close. The pair, along with Thomas, played college basketball together at Indiana University.

BRINGS BACK BAD MEMORIES: Mills presided over the Knicks during a troubling period both on the court and in the courthouse. As mentioned, he served as the president of MSG Sports during the Browne Sanders sexual harassment suit. He also ran the team during a period of poor on-court results. After Mills hired Thomas in 2003, New York missed the playoffs in six of the next seven seasons.

QUESTION: What do you make of the Knicks' decision to bring in Mills and demote Grunwald?

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