CHICAGO — Longtime NBA executive Jerry Colangelo thinks incoming Knicks president Leon Rose has a chance to succeed, but sounded skeptical the new trend of naming agents to run franchises will last.
Colangelo, who now runs USA basketball and is chairman of the board for the Naismith Hall of Fame, is one of the pioneer team executives, running the Suns and recently the 76ers.
In 1968, Colangelo became the youngest general manager in professional sports with Phoenix was a four-time NBA Executive of the Year and moved into ownership before cutting ties with the Suns in 2004.
His word matters.
“The flavor of the month, the flavor of the year right now is this new prototype,’’ Colangelo said of hiring agents. “There was just a time it was young techies. Now we’ve gone to another. It’s like style of play. Somebody starts winning with shooting 3’s and running up and down the court and all of a sudden everybody copies that because of success. You follow success. There’s been some success stories with this new model. So that’s the flavor of the month. There will be a new one. I don’t know when.”
The agent-as-team president has worked with Bob Myers of the Warriors and Rob Pelinka of the Lakers, but didn’t fare as well recently with Lon Babby in Phoenix or Arn Tellem with the struggling Pistons.
Colangelo credits Rose with being a solid agent who could make the transition, but there’s no guarantee. Colangelo said he never heard from owner James Dolan, who fired Steve Mills two weeks ago.
“I’ve known Leon Rose as an agent,’’ Colangelo said at the Hall-of-Fame ceremony announcing finalists, including Kobe Bryant, Tim Dunan and Kevin Garnett. “I think he knows basketball. I think he really loves the game. He certainly has a lot of relationships. The key here in the game today is relationships.
“I have respect for Leon Rose. In the role he had, I trusted him as an agent. He knew what he was talking about. He can be a very good, but time will tell.’’
The most important question, Colangelo said, is having the right people around Rose, who hasn’t officially taken over as he ties up loose ends with CAA.
“How do you structure an organization when [an agent] is a lead guy and who to put around him?’’ Colangelo said.
At Team USA, Colangelo brought in two coaches who are expected to be on Rose’s short list of candidates — Jeff Van Gundy and Tom Thibodeau. Colangelo gave a full endorsement.
“Great basketball guys, terrific coaches,’’ Colangelo said. “I have great respect for both of them. They’re different but alike in some ways. They were born to coach. The fact that they’re not, there are teams out there who can use those guys for sure.”
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