The last time the New York Knicks were NBA champions, George Steinbrenner had just purchased the Yankees for $10 million, the World Trade Center towers opened in New York and Elvis Presley was doing a live concert from Hawaii. So it’s been a while.
But former GM and now team consultant — meaning they paid him to go away — Donnie Walsh thinks they’re close to another one. He says the core is there.
That is what he told Marc Berman of the New York Post.
“We have a core of players we can build around to build a [championship-contending] team,” Walsh said. “We’re not finished. There’s more pieces. But I think we got some really good players that can lead a team and form a core of that team. What we have are the most important things.”
They have some offensive firepower in Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire, that is for sure. They have the star power. But do they really have a team that can defend well enough to put them in the title conversation? They need some quality role players for that, but Walsh said he thinks bringing in assistant coach Mike Woodson will help.
“I think Mike will be good for Mike D’Antoni,” Walsh said. “I’ve heard good things about [Woodson] as a coach and guy. It’ll help them. It’s always good to have a guy come in from a different perspective. I know his mentors, Bobby Knight and Larry Brown, and [Woodson] can offer them [defensive] systems that will be good for them. I also think they may have better defensive personnel. Let’s hope so.”
I’m not sure what personnel Walsh is referring to, but it’s not Carmelo.
How the Knicks build around that core, and what they decide to do with Chauncey Billups in the last year of his contract will be fascinating. Especially in the condensed free agency frenzy that will follow the lockout. They do have a core, but the bigger question becomes is there core as good as the one in Miami? Or Chicago?
Mike Woodson hadn’t even been hired as the Knicks lead assistant coach — which became official Monday — the speculation had started. Coach Mike D’Antoni’s job is in serious danger.
When Donnie Walsh was pushed out the door, the ground under D’Antoni’s feet started to shift. Woodson, the former Hawks head coach, gives the Knicks a viable alternative if D’Antoni is shipped out. Plus, Woodson and Knicks acting president Glen Grunwald were teammates at Indiana. And Woodson has ties to Isiah Thomas, whose shadow still lingers over the organization (and still seems to have owner James Dolan’s ear).
You know the New York media is all over that. D’Antoni gets it, too, as reported at the New York Post.
“I think all coaches are on a one-year deal,” D’Antoni said on a conference call. “It’s whether you get a paid vacation, but we all have to do something to earn another year, especially with the Knicks.
“It’s not like they have to keep [you] around because they’re financially strapped. We have to produce. Whether it’s one or 10, it doesn’t matter. It’s going to come down to next year.”
Either way, this is a good move for Woodson. If he can get the Knicks to play better defense — no easy feat considering the players on that roster — he’s have his choice of head coaching jobs next year. If D’Antoni does get kicked to the curb, Woodson is standing right there.
All that said, I’d have a better chance guessing what Ron Artest is thinking than guessing what the Knicks will do next.
After listening to Reggie Miller broadcast NBA games, would you hire him to be your team’s general manager?
I wouldn’t even let him run my fantasy team, but if a GM gig gets him out of the broadcast booth I am fully supportive of it.
Larry Bird is going to step down at the end of this season as the guy running the Indiana Pacers basketball operations, and owner Herb Simon apparently does not watch the same broadcasts you and I do and he wants Miller to replace Bird, reports Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Simon has considered this possibility for several years, sources said, and thinks the timing could be right to groom Miller to run his basketball operations. This is likely Miller’s one chance to ever run a team. And where else would he rather do it, but in the city, the state, where he became basketball royalty?
Nevertheless, there’s risk for everyone. Miller has a cushy national TV analyst’s job with TNT, and he’d have to jeopardize his standing as an iconic Indiana figure. He’s the greatest, most beloved player in Pacers history. He’ll take hits upstairs that he never had to take on the court.
It is possible Simon would do something like re-hire Donnie Walsh (who ran the Pacers before going to the Knicks) to teach Miller the ropes for a couple years before letting Reggie have the run of the place.
If Simon is set on a star former Pacer running the show, I would go with Chris Mullin personally. But again, if this gets Miller out of the broadcast booth, I am supportive in the same way I was when the Warriors hired Mark Jackson.
Donnie Walsh is currently a consultant for the Knicks. Which essentially means he is being paid to go away. That despite getting the team back to the playoffs and brining in stars while cutting the payroll in half. Most places that gets you a raise and job security, with the Knicks it gets you kicked to the curb.
Walsh wanted Chris Mullin, the former Warriors GM and new Hall of Famer, to follow him as the decision maker in New York, but the battle over who makes the calls on players and the line of succession is part of why Walsh is back home in Indiana.
Mullin and Walsh are tight, and Mullin doesn’t think that Walsh is done he told the New York Daily News.
“He’s as good as anyone,” Mullin said Monday following a taping of “CenterStage” on YES. “I think it’s just a matter of if he wants to do it. And what I know of Donnie, he’s a worker. He likes to work. That’s part of his makeup. I haven’t talked to him about it but if you asked me I would think (Walsh will work again).”
The question is health and how bad Walsh wants another chance. He has had three surgeries in the past three years and is now 70 years old.
“He’s getting healthy,” Mullin said. “He was never as bad as people let on.”
A lot of teams would be better off with Walsh making the basketball decisions. Including the Knicks. If he wants the gig next year, teams would be smart to see if he will take it.
As Chris Mullin heads into the Hall of Fame telling cool stories about him and Larry Bird, there is a tinge of regret in New York.
When Mullin was pushed out the door as general manager of the Golden State Warriors — so Don Nelson’s cabal could have more power — there were other teams around the league that showed interest in picking him up. But nobody more so than Donnie Walsh with the Knicks, Marc Berman reminds us at the New York Post.
Being able to pick his successor was important to Walsh because, well, does anyone who cares about the Knicks want James Dolan to do make that call? But Dolan did make the call and now Walsh is gone, too.
According to a league source close to Donnie Walsh, his biggest regret as Knicks president was not being able to hire Mullin as the team general manager and then groom him as his successor. In fact, the source said if owner James Dolan had granted Walsh permission to hire Mullin last summer as GM, Walsh likely would still be the president — and not an Indiana-based club consultant.’
Sources said Walsh backed out of a verbal agreement on a two-year extension due to contract language partly related to control in hiring his successor…
The source said Dolan did not view Mullin as polished enough to be the face of the Knicks. He once described Mullin’s thick Brooklyn accent in the “Book of Basketball” as a cross between Bruce Springsteen and WFAN’s Mike Francesa.
Not that the Knicks landed in bad hands, but Mullin would have been a great fit — New York kid comes home to run the franchise and leads it back to glory. Great story. But this is Dolan’s Knicks, so that never happened.