Donnie Walsh has spent three years now pulling the Knicks franchise out of the hole it had dug itself. The hole that collapsed and trapped them. Even the notoriously impatient New York media got it and Walsh got a largely free pass because he was doing ugly work that had to be done.
Now they are out of the hole and enjoying the light again. But Walsh is not leading this team for many more years. His contract is up at the end of this season, and even if he and the Dolan family work out an extension it will not be a long one.
When Walsh does leave, he wants Chris Mullin to take over, he told the New York Daily News.
“If I could hire anybody Chris would be the guy,” Walsh told The News. “That’s who I want.”
Former Knick Allan Houston is currently Walsh’s right-hand guy. There is no plan to hire a GM right now under Walsh, but if that changes Mullin would be in the running.
Mullin was the general manager of the Golden State Warriors, and had a mixed bag of results. However, it’s a little tough to judge the quality of his work when owner Chris Cohen was cutting him off at the knees, and coach Don Nelson was at loggerheads with him over team direction. Mullin, long term, sounded like the sane voice there.
Here’s the conventional wisdom, the perception out there — new Phoenix president of basketball operations Lon Babby will be calling the player personnel shots for the Suns, the general manager will be the guy doing the leg work.
It was reported by Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski that Cleveland’s front office man Lance Blanks is in line to do that leg work.
Babby told the Arizona Republic none of that is true.
“It’s not a horse race,” Babby said. “There are no frontrunners. We’re going to have a thorough and systematic process, and it’ll be at the end of that process that we’ll move to evaluations.
“I’ve committed to myself and the candidates that I wouldn’t move forward to a decision until I’ve completed the interviews. Therefore, there can’t be a frontrunner.”
This is what Babby has to say, he has to spin and talk about the process. But this is like a horserace in one key way — someone is going to win. They may well be in the backstretch right now so who is out in front of the pack may well not be the one that crosses the line first, but someone will.
What it sounds like is Babby is going to take his time with this. He likely will go with a guy who is strong in player evaluations — a guy from the basketball background side. Which could be Blanks (a former NBA player), but could be a number of guys. Sit back and get comfortable, this likely will not end soon.
Dell Demps has a history of dealing with point guard controversies. He recently helped with the George Hill/Tony Parker situation. He knows that there’s a good part and a bad part to having two extremely talented point guards. This is a good thing, since he’ll be stepping into the exact same situation in New Orleans.
The Hornets are set to hire Demps for GM of New Orleans, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein. The Hornets needed a stable voice among the chaos of their offseason which has seen turnover in their general manager after the draft, a new coach brought in, and the impending sale of the team. Demps provides that, along with Monty Williams, their new head coach. Both Demps and Williams are products of the Spurs’ system in San Antonio, and Demps had experience with development as manager of the D-League affiliate Austin Toros (owned by the Spurs).
Demps’ development skills are going to be crucial for the team as it looks to build a roster for the future, with Peja Stojakovic and others’ long-term contracts going the way of the dodo. He also has experience in dealing with roster logjams, like that of the Hill-Parker conundrum, and trying to find minutes for Marcus Thornton. Finally, Demps brings a strong business background he’s worked to cultivate, alongside experience as a former player. It’s hard to argue it’s a bad choice, though some will question his pedigree.
Still, it means the Hornet’s front office has stabilized, and can now turn its attentions to the only question anyone wants to ask and that Demps may need to get used to.
“Can they keep Chris Paul?”