The Knicks announced on Thursday that former MSG President Steve Mills has replaced Glen Grunwald as the team's General Manager.
Given the success that Grunwald has had over the course of his Knickerbocker tenure (of course, that same success will always be considered a collective effort tied to Donnie Walsh as well), it's somewhat surprising to see him re-assigned within the organization.
But what's perhaps even more out of the blue is New York happening to name Mills as his successor. Many have considered the Knicks to have been grooming (Assistant G.M. and Knicks' legend) Allan Houston for such a role. With Grunwald out, why wouldn't this prove to be the opportune time for the former sharpshooter to step in?
Though most "insiders" will say their sources suggest that Houston is still being groomed and that Mills' appointment will essentially give the former more power, I'd say otherwise. Houston may still be considered the organization's future, but he can't be considered ready to take on such responsibility yet .
If that were the case, the Knicks would have just promoted him to General Manager right now. Such an appointment probably would have been better received by fans, while taking in the fact that Grunwald is out. Fans would have undoubtedly been happier with the hiring of an all-time fan favorite, much more so than the return of the man who hired Isiah Thomas.
Frankly, promoting Houston at this point might not have been the best move, simply because of the situation he would inherit upon becoming General Manager. Not that the current state of the Knicks is a bad one by any means, but the pressure is clearly on to win big. If Houston weren't able to deliver after attempting to make do with the cards he was dealt upon being promoted, pretty soon his removal would have had to have taken place. Such a departure would have been incredibly unfortunate under the circumstances, and that's not something anybody wants.
Instead, Mills is in. Suggesting that Houston is not ready and/or that the Knicks would not have wanted to fire him should things have gone wrong, is one thing, but to suggest he'll be the one pulling the strings behind the scenes for Mills is another. I simply don't believe that's true. The only reason to set up such an arrangement would be so that Mills can take the fall when/if things astray, instead of Houston.
It's hard to see James Dolan putting one of his trusted confidants in the position of simply being a potential scapegoat. That can't be. Instead, perhaps it's believed that Houston isn't all that quite ready for the job, and the organization believes in Mills instead.
Either way, I don't exactly foresee Mills' new Knickerbocker tenure being a short one in favor of Houston. He's not just here to bridge the gap. Whether or not he's the best man for the job, he's here because the organization believes in his ability to bring the team back to the promise land. It'll be interesting to see if that ultimately works out.