Last weekend the Knicks announced that they were hiring Mark Warkentien as “director, pro player personnel” where he “will consult Walsh on preparation for the NBA Draft, have scouting assignments and will advise on personnel moves.” Warkentien was previously the general manager of the Denver Nuggets from 2006 until the team let him go last summer.
This move is significant for New York, because it’s possible that Warkentien is being groomed to succeed Donnie Walsh. Even though the Knicks current president has said he would like to remain with the franchise a little longer, his 70th birthday is less than two weeks away. And the team hasn’t even picked up his contract for next year. With that in mind, I’m going to look over some of Warkentien’s moves as Denver GM, in order to better understand what kind of GM he has been.
Selected forward Leon Powe (49th overall pick).
Traded the draft rights to forward Leon Powe to the Boston Celtics for a future second-round pick.
Talk about starting off on the wrong foot. Powe looked to be a real gem coming out of the second round, for Boston that is. However knee injuries seem to have derailed what appeared to be a promising career. On the other hand, trading a second rounder is minor on the list of GM failures. Players available in the second round have been turned down by nearly every team in the league, and aren’t likely to turn out to be rotation players, nevertheless All Stars. It’s a low risk move shipping one to another team.
July 28 2006
Signed forward Jamal Sampson.
Unless you’re a long term reader of KnickerBlogger or a big Cal fan, you might e asking who is Jamal Sampson? Yours truly advocated for him back in 2005. A 6-11 center, Sampson was a second round teenage pick for Utah and bounced around the league for 5 years. He only accumulated 631 minutes but showed promise from a statistical perspective. Sampson averaged 13.8 reb/40 and 1.8 blk/36 which at worst would make him a decent rotation player. With that average, he would be the third best rebounder in the league this year. Unfortunately Sampson never made it in the NBA, and currently is in China where he dominated one season. When given minutes he’s produced, although it didn’t work out for Denver.
July 20 2006
Re-signed forward Nenê; re-signed guard Howard Eisley and traded him with two 2007 second-round picks to the Chicago Bulls for guard JR Smith.
First, re-signing Nene was a gutsy move at the time. Hilario played only one game in 2006 before injuring his knee. He tore his anterior cruciate ligament, sprained his medial collateral ligament and had a torn meniscus. Also consider that at the time Nene wasn’t a high volume scorer (14.4 pts/36 in 2006), strong rebounder (8.9 reb/36) or shot blocker (1.3 blk/36). Despite another year lost (to cancer) the Hillario signing has worked for Denver. Since his new contract, Nene led the league in TS% twice, and this year he is first in eFG%.
As for his other move that summer, getting J.R. Smith for Howard Eisley and a couple of second round picks was a steal. It was another risky move for Warkentien. Smith had gotten benched by Hornets coach Byron Scott just months prior to the trade, because Smith clashed with his head coach on numerous occasions. Despite his past, Smith has produced well for Denver. In his first three seasons he posted a TS% of 57.5% or higher, with 19.8 pts/36 or more. Luckily for Chicago fans, Howard Eisley never suited up.
September 8 2006
Re-signed forward Reggie Evans.
Reggie Evans, rebounder extraordinaire, had his highest TS% (55.0%) after signing a one year deal with Denver. Despite his journeyman status, Evans is valued by statisticians for his tremendous rebounding prowess. It’s rumored that Dave Berri is lobbying for a statue of Evans pulling down a rebound in front of the economics building on the campus of Southern Utah.
December 19 2006
Traded guard Andre Miller, forward Joe Smith and two 2007 first-round picks to the Philadelphia 76ers for guard Allen Iverson and forward Ivan McFarlin.
Not a trade, I would have made. But look at it this way. Allen Iverson’s most efficient full season was in 2007 for Denver. The diminutive guard had a TS% of 55.0%, while averaging 22.8 pts/36. Considering he finished his career with a TS% of 50.1%, that’s quite an accomplishment. In Dave Berri’s statue of Reggie Evans, Iverson is in the background talking on his cell phone staring away from the play.