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Knicks to focus on free agency, not Phil Jackson replacement, sources say

The New York Knicks' focus over the next few weeks will be on free agency, and not on a replacement for departed team president Phil Jackson, league sources told ESPN's Ramona Shelburne.

General manager Steve Mills was leading the front office in talks with other teams Wednesday, sources said.

The Knicks have been linked to Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri as a possible Jackson replacement.

But with Ujiri in the midst of a recently signed five-year contract, league sources said it would be difficult for the Knicks to pry him away. New York has been reluctant to part with draft picks in recent years as it tries to build around young center Kristaps Porzingis. Because of this, league sources indicated that the Knicks will consider several candidates to replace Jackson.

Any discussion with Ujiri -- who is facing a potential rebuild of his own, should the Raptors lose free agents Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka, PJ Tucker andPatrick Patterson-- would first require permission and then steep compensation (such as draft picks), which league sources said was unlikely for the Knicks, given their current roster construction.

Another name that has been mentioned internally as a candidate is Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti, sources told ESPN. The Knicks would likely need to offer compensation to the Thunder for Presti, who is currently under contract.

A league source told ESPN's Dave McMenamin that Jerry West, who once tried to hire ex-Cavaliers GM David Griffin in Memphis, planned to reach out to the Oak View Group's Tim Leiweke to endorse Griffin as a candidate to replace Jackson. Leiweke, like West, has former ties to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Griffin has long coveted a big job like the Knicks and considers all of his experience in two-plus decades in the league as an apprenticeship for such a challenge. As of Wednesday afternoon, the Knicks had not reached out to Griffin's agent, Mark Carmony. However, a member of the Knicks organization has begun gathering background information on Griffin, including making a call to an executive on the Cavs' business side, a league source told ESPN.

The Knicks and Jackson announced Wednesday morning they had mutually agreed to part ways. Sources said conversations between Jackson and owner James Dolan about what was best for the team's futureaccelerated this week, when the franchise decided it would not buy out embattled forward Carmelo Anthony.

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