Steve Mills’ biggest priority: Keeping Carmelo

Adam Zagoria, Team Reporter

Until Knicks owner Jim Dolan addresses the media and explains why he made the 11th-hour move of replacing Glen Grunwald with Steve Mills as the team’s GM just a few days before training camp opens, we may never know exactly what his motivation was.

After all, Grunwald continued the work Donnie Walsh started of digging the Knicks out of the abyss and it was on Grunwald’s watch that the Knicks enjoyed their most successful season in 13 years.

Steve Mills“I can’t answer the decision as to why Jim made the decision that he made,” Mills said Monday in his first public comments at Knicks’ Media Day, adding that Grunwald would stay on as an advisor to him.

Perhaps Dolan feels Mills has a better chance of keeping the one player the Knicks absolutely must have going forward.

“We are fortunate within the Knicks to have a player like Carmelo Anthony on our roster,” Mills said, who also considered becoming the head of the NBA Players Association and the athletic director at Princeton.

“He clearly is one one of those superstar players that don’t come around very often and the things that he has done to make this team successful and to represent this city is something that’s very important. And so while it’s premature in the process, we have made it clear that we have every intention of making Carmelo a Knick for a long time to come. That’s in our plans.”

Anthony has a player option for next season worth $23.5 million and continues to maintain he won’t address his future until after the season.

The Lakers are reportedly interested in targeting Anthony and bringing him to L.A. in 2014.

“When that time comes I’ll deal with that,” Anthony said. “I’m not going to go through the season thinking about my contract. I’m actually under contract now, so I’m not going to think about what I’m going to whether I’m, I’m not doing that. When that time comes I’ll deal with it. I told you in the offseason I’m not going to keep addressing that situation. There’s really no need to at this point. When that time comes I’ll deal with it. Until then, my focus is really on being here, being a Knick, doing what I have to do to, hopefully, win a championship.”

Kenyon Martin, who is perhaps closer to Anthony than anyone else on the Knicks, believes Anthony will remain in New York after this year.

“Ultimately, it’s going to be his choice at the end of the day, but personally I can’t see him going anywhere else,” Martin said of Anthony

As for the change in the GM position, Anthony said he didn’t know why Dolan replaced Grunwald with Mills.

“I really don’t  know the reason behind Mr. Dolan, Steve Mills and Glen Grunwald,” Anthony said. “As far as for me, I can’t worry about that. Mr. Dolan has his reasons, I’ll let him handle that. I’m not a GM, I don’t want to be a GM. If there’s something that Mr. Dolan wants to bring past me, run past me, I’ll be happy to sit down and talk with him. But as far as making any decisions like that, I have no clue, I have no answers to those questions. I let the front office be the front office and I do my job with basketball.”

Grunwald did engineer the acquisition of center Tyson Chandler after the team amnestied Chauncey Billups, and Chandler said he appreciated the move.

“I loved Glen, obviously he brought me here,” Chandler said. “I have a lot of respect for what he was able to accomplish. I try to not get to get caught in up stuff that goes on over my head. I try to focus on what I can control and that’s the basketball part.”

Mills, who famously hired Isiah Thomas in his previous tenure with the Knicks, said he had no regrets about the past and is only focused on the future.

“Our goal is to win the championship this year, and we think we have a good chance to do that,” Mills said.

If the Knicks fall short of that goal, Mills may be judged more than anything else on whether or not Anthony stays in the fold after this year.


Adam Zagoria covers the New York Knicks and Big East hoops for NBA.com and SNY.tv. He also appears as a Big East Basketball Insider on SNY and 1050 ESPN Radio. You can follow him on Twitter and read his blog.