As the D-League continues to warrant a reputation as the best place to discover good enough talent for the NBA, it's vital squads in The Association develop strong relationships with their respective affiliates.
Should NBA teams truly embrace each affiliate as a formal minor league system, the D-League will only further cement itself as the hub for developing talented players who can eventually make key contributions on big league squads.
Erie BayHawks General Manager (and Knicks Assistant G.M.) Allan Houston seems to represent someone who is quite aware of the benefits of the D-League. The executive was on hand at Baruch College in New York City on Saturday, where the BayHawks held open tryouts, welcoming basketball journeymen and fans alike of all different backgrounds.
Joined by the BayHawks' coaching staff (led by new head coach Gene Cross) and even New York's G.M,, Glen Grunwald, later in the afternoon, Houston observed the workout of over sixty prospects. Voicing a desire to bridge the gap between the two squads, the former guard spoke with RidiculousUpside.com, expressing how important it was to treat the Knicks and BayHawks as one cohesive unit. Read on to check out his quick Q&A straight from tryouts.
Q: Your staff seems to have some confidence in the open tryout format, but sometimes it's difficult to find that diamond in the rough here. What would you say is the number one goal during the session?
A: I think it's a great opportunity for the BayHawks to continue to grow interest. Having tryouts right here in the New York market provides us with the chance to build awareness around what's going in on the D-League and our partnership with the Knicks.
Essentially, what I try to share with everyone here is that this team is truly an extension of the Knicks, and each and every one of them is a part of that.
Q: In the interest of helping the Knicks discover and develop talent, what do you look for in players that can potentially contribute to the NBA team at some point in the future?
A: At the end of the day, you're looking for guys that you can hopefully bring into camp. At that point, there's a whole new dynamic that comes into play. These guys have to learn a new system and know how to run different plays. There's a certain level of professionalism that goes along with being a pro, especially when it comes to the culture of the Knicks.
The first step is seeing if any of the guys that fit that mold come from here. The next step is obviously watching them develop to see if they can make that next jump into the NBA.
Q: The BayHawks recently hired Gene Cross, who's here at tryouts, as their new head coach. Can you talk about your thought process when coming to the decision to hire him? How will he impact the success of the Knicks as well?
A: Coach Cross has a lot experience evaluating and developing talent, not only at the college level, but in the D-League too. He's worked alongside teams like the Hawks and the Jazz in each of their own respective evaluation processes.
Coach brings a lot of energy and has a good demeanor. He's really passionate. His D-League experience has been good. He's won in this league before, so Coach knows what that winning culture is like.
You want the D-League affiliate to essentially be a part of this entire family. Coach Cross has already been a part of meetings with Knicks coach Mike Woodson and his staff to get a better understanding of one another. I'm sure they'll continue to be on the same page.
Q: You mentioned earlier how important it is to raise awareness around the D-League. A great way to do that these days is utilizing social media. You and Coach Cross both seem to understand that, actively interacting with fans on Twitter.
A: Twitter's a great tool to let people know who you are and kind of connect with everyone. I use it to build the brand of the Knicks, BayHawks, and even myself as an individual.
The more I do it, the more I enjoy it. With a busy schedule and family, it's difficult to do it as much as I like. I plan on expanding my role on there to see what really works for fans. It's important to not only embrace basketball fans, but everyone else too.
Q: With regard to building your own brand, I know you embrace your role as a notable figure in the Big Apple community with your Father Knows Best initiative. Can you tell me a little more about that?
A: In my roles with both the Knicks and BayHawks, I've had many opportunities to work with the youth. Events like this very tryout allow me to interact with a lot of young men.
I think everyone recognizes the concept of leadership, but not everybody knows the skills it takes to truly be a leader. As a coach's son myself, I understand our nation is in need of mentors.
That's my goal and my passion through all of this. As parents to seven kids, there's only so much teaching that my wife and I can do. The outreach certainly doesn't stop there.