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Knicks to focus on free agency, not Phil Jackson replacement, sources say

The New York Knicks' focus over the next few weeks will be on free agency, and not on a replacement for departed team president Phil Jackson, league sources told ESPN's Ramona Shelburne.

General manager Steve Mills was leading the front office in talks with other teams on Wednesday, sources said.

The Knicks have been linked to Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri as a possible Jackson replacement.

But with Ujiri in the midst of a recently signed five-year contract, league sources said it would be extremely difficult for the Knicks to pry him away, as New York has been reluctant to part with any draft picks in recent years as it tries to build around young center Kristaps Porzingis. Because of this, league sources indicated the Knicks will be considering several candidates to replace Jackson.

Any discussion with Ujiri -- who is facing a potential rebuild of his own, should the Raptors lose free agents Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka, PJ Tucker and Patrick Patterson -- would first require permission and then steep compensation (such as draft picks), which league sources said was unlikely for the Knicks, given their current roster construction.

A league source told ESPN's Dave McMenamin that Jerry West -- who once tried to hire ex-Cavaliers GM David Griffin in Memphis -- planned to reach out to the Oak View Group's Tim Leiweke, who like West has former ties to the Los Angeles Lakers from his time working for AEG, to endorse Griffin as a candidate to replace Jackson.

Griffin has long coveted a big job like the Knicks and considers all of his experience in two-plus decades in the league as an apprenticeship for such a challenge. As of Wednesday afternoon the Knicks had not reached out to Griffin's agent, Mark Carmony. However, a member of the Knicks organization has begun gathering background information on Griffin, including making a call to an executive on the Cavs' business side, a league source told ESPN.

The Knicks and Jackson announced Wednesday morning that they had mutually agreed to part ways. Sources said conversations about what was best for the team's future between Jackson and Dolan accelerated this week, when the franchise decided it would not buy out embattled forward Carmelo Anthony.

Source: http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/19762299/new-york-knicks-focus-now-free-agency-not-phil-jackson-replacement

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