Allan Houston may not be ready to be a viable candidate to replace Donnie Walsh just yet, but the former Knick, who served the last season under Walsh as assistant GM, is clearly in mind for the future.
The Knicks today announced that Houston will serve as general manager of the D-League's Erie BayHawks, with whom the Knicks have formed an exclusive affiliation. The Knicks will run the basketball operations of the BayHawks. The Knicks will be one of three teams to have what is called a "hybrid affiliation" with a D-League team, along with the Nets (Springfield Armor) and Houston Rockets (Rio Grande Valley Vipers).
The BayHawks used to be shared by the Cavaliers and Raptors.
Walsh appointed Houston, who will get a great deal of experience and will work closely with the Knicks and whomever takes over for Walsh after June 30. The BayHawks are coached by Jay Larranaga, son of UMiami coach Jim Larranga. UPDATED: The Knicks will keep Larranaga as the head coach. I'm told they like him.
The Knicks are hosting a two-day minicamp this week with D-League free agents to begin scouting for the BayHawks roster. This also explains why the Knicks have spent a lot of time looking at draft-eligible players who are projected to be second-round picks.
The Lakers own their own D-League team, the D-Fenders, but they did not play in the 2010-11 season and there is some uncertainty if the team will be resurrected. The D-League isn't a money-maker, which is why most franchises prefer to share affiliations and not many teams use the D-League. But as far back as two years ago, they had looked into having their own team and, according to several sources, Harlem was one of their first locations under consideration. There were several logistical issues, however, with starting a new team, including the availability of a high-end facility that would be up to the D-League's standards.
Coincidentally, the Knicks have never used the D-League to send one of their own roster players for development. League rules, which clearly need to be changed, are prohibitive of teams that want to use the D-League as a place to send young players who need experience. For instance, if the Knicks wanted to send Andy Rautins to the D-League this season, it would have cost them a roster spot. Two years ago, Patrick Ewing Jr. was cut by the Knicks but he went to their D-League affiliate in Reno. He was no longer their property and could have been signed by anyone.
Another example is Jerome Jordan, who the Knicks encouraged to play overseas rather than cut him in training camp to preserve a roster spot. In the D-League, Jordan might have had more opportunity to play more and be better developed.