GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- New Knicks president and GM Steve Mills says he has no plans to bring Isiah Thomas back into the fold.
"No, Isiah will not be coming back to the Knicks," Mills said Monday in an interview on "The Michael Kay Show" on ESPN New York 98.7 FM. "I've known Isiah for a long time. I think he has a lot of good things going on in his life. He just finished getting his master's at [the University of California] Berkeley. He's on NBA TV. He's doing a lot of community work through his foundation. I actually think with his background and what he was able to get accomplished as the president of the [NBA] players' association, he's probably an excellent candidate for the executive director's job at the NBA players' association."
In his previous term with the Knicks, Mills worked for 10 years as president of MSG Sports. He hired Thomas as president and general manager. Thomas and Mills presided over the team during one of its least successful stretches, with the Knicks missing the playoffs in six of their seven seasons on Thomas' watch.
The tumultuous period of the Mills and Thomas reign included a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by Anucha Browne Sanders. The Knicks' former senior vice president of marketing and business operations successfully sued MSG, as a jury in October 2007 ordered Madison Square Garden to pay her $11.6 million after finding she endured crude insults and unwanted advances from then-coach Thomas. Thomas and Mills reportedly had a falling-out after the Browne Sanders trial.
Mills was demoted by the Knicks in the summer of 2008. Thomas was fired in 2008 as well but remains a confidant of owner James Dolan. Mills admitted as much Monday.
"Isiah and Jim have a good relationship but he will not be coming back to the Knicks in this organization," Mills said.
MILLS: KNICKS CAN WIN NBA TITLE: Mills has high hopes for the Knicks this season.
"We are going into the year with the hope that we can win a championship," he said.
The Knicks haven't won an NBA title since 1973.
The big unanswered question regarding those lofty expectations is this: If the Knicks have a legitimate chance to win an NBA title, why was the guy who put most of the roster together -- Glen Grunwald -- demoted last week?
Mills didn't shed much light on Dolan's decision to demote Grunwald.
"He didn’t express anything about the job that Glen had done or any problems with the job that Glen had done," Mills said Monday at Knicks media day. "But he did express that he felt in today’s environment of the NBA with the punitive nature of the tax structure and the salary cap, that he wants to have an organization that is the best in the NBA."
There is speculation Dolan was upset after his team lost in the second round of the playoffs last season. Some of Grunwald's free-agent signees from last season (Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby) were ineffective or unavailable in that series.
Mills declined Monday to discuss the details of Grunwald's demotion. Rather, the new president focused on Dolan's decision to rehire him.
"He felt it was time to bring someone in who can take a look at every aspect of running a basketball business from the use of analytics in terms of evaluating the players that you have and the players you should have," Mills said. "What is the best structure in terms of creating and developing a scouting staff? What is the best way to prepare your players and evaluate how your players are doing and how you can make them the best they can be?"
Mills added that Dolan was looking for someone who can "create an organization that allows players to perform at their best. Those are the things he was looking at, and he thought I was the person to do it."
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