Before the New York Knicks appointed Steve Mills and hired general manager Scott Pretty to replace jilted team president Phil Jackson, their owner, James Dolan, tried to poach Jerry West.
And, obviously, he failed.
Mitch Lawrence has the details over at the Sporting News:
They’ve done it with a new administration led by president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry. They were not team owner James Dolan’s first choice. Dolan had one of his most trusted allies, entertainment executive Irving Azoff, talk to Jerry West to see if the NBA legend wanted to take over for Jackson last June, league sources with knowledge of the discussions told Sporting News. Azoff brought Dolan and Jackson together in 2014, but in this instance, West told Azoff that the time wasn’t right to come to New York. Instead he opted to settle into an advisory role to Clippers owner Steve Ballmer.
You can’t blame West for opting to roll with the Los Angeles Clippers, even if it was clear at the time they had a long road in front of them. The Knicks’ front-office situation is notoriously unstable, and West would be entering a post in which he’d be subject to Dolan’s wavering wrath and interest in the team.
Most people believe that West knew he was leaving the Clippers for the Golden State Warriors long before the NBA Finals ended anyway. If the Knicks reached out to him in June, either during or after the NBA Finals, he likely didn’t need to make a decision. He’d have already made one.
This story must make Mills in particular feel a tad uneasy. He served under Jackson and was, at one point prior to the Zen Master’s arrival, tabbed as the face of the front office. To once again know Dolan tried to play the big-splash game can’t sit entirely well.
Then again, when working for, under and with Dolan, these curveballs and name-chases are an occupational hazard.