Tag: Mark Warkentien

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Don’t expect any more Knicks front office shakeups

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After letting Donnie Walsh go — because all he did is return the team to the playoffs while slashing the payroll in half, why would you want to keep him around? — the question became who was on dock? What would owner James Dolan do next to screw up the stability of the franchise?

Turns out, looks like nothing. The inhouse guys that stepped in when Walsh was pushed out may be keeping their jobs for a while. So tweets Alan Hahn of Newsday.

Meanwhile, as in the Fix, hearing #Knicksmore content to keep Grunwald/Warkentien hierarchy in place and groom Allan Houston. Thoughts?

Well, those two haven’t made any bad decisions since July 1.

Seriously, this is the smart and stable move. Hahn is talking about Glen Grunwald and Mark Warkentien, who are fully capable of doing the job and keeping the rebuilding going.

Grunwald worked for Isiah Thomas in Toronto and came to the Knicks, but don’t hold that against him. He also served at the right hand of Walsh for years. Grunwald is respected around the league by peers. Warkentien came over from Denver (before the Carmelo Anthony trade, go ahead and think that’s a coincidence if you want) and is another guy who has had success building a team. They both report to team president Scott O’Neil.

Those are guys who intimately understood what Walsh was trying build, and they are guys with experience and know how to run a team. This is a good bit of stability.

Well, until Dolan wants to play with his toy again and screws it up.

Warkentien’s new contract with Knicks ends July 1

Mark Walkenstein
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And we thought the hiring of Mark Warkentien director of pro personnel was a sign of stability coming to the New York Knicks. Silly us. We should know better.

Warkentien’s contract ends July 1, according to Frank Isola at the New York Daily News.

If you’re paranoid — and if you live in New York you’re paranoid by nature — you could see this as a sign that owner James Dolan could clear the decks for a return to Isiah Thomas. Current president of basketball operations (read: GM) Donnie Walsh has to have his contract extended by April 30 or his deal expires at the end of this season, too. It’s easy to see how the unthinkable happens.

More realistically, Walsh will get his deal picked up and Warkentien’s will be extended. That is, unless another team fires their GM and comes calling for Warkentien. Having the contract expire July 1 gives both sides flexibility. But as crazy as things get in New York it’s hard to see the two sides really parting ways.

Walsh deserves the chance to hang on. He has not been perfect for the Knicks, but he did as good a job as can be expected for what he inherited from Thomas. He has gotten the payroll down to provide flexibility going after free agents, he brought in Amar’e Stoudemire and Raymond Felton. They’ve had some good draft picks (Landry Fields). The Knicks are not great but they’re above .500 and respectable, and that is a huge step forward.

When you make those kind of steps, you deserve the chance to take the next one. Which is what any logical franchise would do, go with some stability. But this is the Knicks, so know knows? We all could just be silly.

Walsh gets a win, Knicks hire former Nugget GM Warkentien

Mark Walkenstein
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In a week where he needed one, Knicks president of basketball operations Donnie Walsh got a win.

The Knicks have hired former Nuggets GM Mark Warkentien as their director of pro personnel, the team announced Saturday. Since he was expected to be hired as a consultant so this is a much more entrenched position within the organization. Where he now fits exactly in the Knicks front office hierarchy with assistant GM Allen Houston is unclear, but he is not just on the periphery.

Officially he will report to Walsh (the de facto GM) and will work primarily on the draft and scouting, but he will also have a role in personnel decisions. Warkentien comes from Denver where he helped trade Allen Iverson for Chauncey Billups among other moves. Warkentien’s reputation is as a guy who can find talent deep in the draft and someone who has good ties to players overseas.

Oh, by the way, Warkentien has a good relationship with Carmelo Anthony and his people. That doesn’t hurt.

With rumors floating around that Knicks owner James Dolan may not pick up the extension on Walsh’s contract (he has until April 30), having two trusted soldiers in Houston and Warkentien in the front office means some kind of continuity of decisions should remain in place if Walsh is allowed to walk. That is why this is a win for Walsh. (Although you could argue this gives Dolan more leverage to move Walsh out because others are there. Go ahead and argue it if you want, I prefer not to try to think like Dolan. It gives me a headache.)

Of course, all bets are off if Dolan brings Isiah Thomas back.

Will the Knicks pick up Donnie Walsh’s contract? And how is this even a question?

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Pat Riley will probably win it. I can see that. But Donnie Walsh of the Knicks deserves to be NBA Executive of the Year.

In three seasons Walsh has taken a team drowning in big contracts for bad players and has turned them into something respectable. The Knicks are not contenders, but they are pretty good and very entertaining. No team has come farther in the last few years to get where they are than New York.

And yet, there are worries within Madison Square Garden that Walsh’s job may not be safe. His contract is up at the end of this season and owner James Dolan has until April 1 to pick up his contract for next season.

Nobody knows if Dolan will do that, writes Howard Beck at the New York Times. Which has plenty of people nervous because if not Walsh… he wouldn’t really bring back Isiah Thomas, would he? Is Dolan wearing Bad Idea Jeans? Bringing back Thomas the New Coke of basketball decisions. That can’t really happen, can it?

The problem is Dolan is so unpredictable and so secretive nobody can rule it out.

In that light, the move by Walsh this week to hire Mark Warkentien — the former Nuggets GM — makes even more sense (it’s not just the Carmelo Anthony connections). With Warkentien and current second-in-command Allan Houston in house, if Walsh is pushed out the door there would be two reasonable replacement options already in the Knicks front office. Meaning one would not have to look for Florida college coaches to be your GM.

Know that Walsh wants to stick around.

“I never have; I don’t think about that,” Walsh said, but he confirmed that he wanted to continue. “If I’m the right guy, probably. But I’m not in charge of that, so I don’t worry about it. I feel good at this point, about how this has gone for the Knicks.”

To realize how good a job Walsh has done, you have to look back at the 23-win Knicks of 2008, the last season of Thomas’ reign. That team had Stephon Marbury playing in 30 games and shooting 41 percent for his $19 million. They had Zach Randolph at $13.3 million, Eddie Curry at $8.9 million (at the start of a contract the Knicks still can’t unload) and Quentin Richardson was making $8.1 million. The Knicks had a payroll of more than $95 million, and with the luxury tax they paid out much more to miss the playoffs entirely. And that’s just the on-the-court issues, the team found ways to embarrass the franchise off the court, too.

Walsh came in and changed everything. Already have 25 wins and seem destined for a playoff spot. He brought in a new face for the franchise in Amar’e Stoudemire. There is an energy and excitement in the Garden and around the Knicks that has been missing for a decade.

If the Knicks don’t pick up Walsh’s contract, it’s a sign that ultimately nothing has changed in New York. And that the city’s hoops fans are destined for another decade of disappointment.

Knicks to hire former Nuggets GM — and not just for the ‘Melo connections

Mark Walkenstein
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It seems to be a move about Carmelo Anthony in the short term, but this could be about the long-term future of the Knicks front office.

Knicks GM Donnie Walsh is close to hiring former Nuggets GM Mark Warkentien as a consultant, Adrian Wojnarowski reports at Yahoo. You know, the job that was going to belong to Isiah Thomas.

Warkentien was pushed out of Denver as Josh Kroenke and Masai Ujiri were put into top player personnel positions by owner Stan Kroenke. And no, the name thing is not a coincidence.

Warkentien has a good relationship with Anthony and his people. You know that is part of this.

But this is really about the long term for the Knicks front office. Walsh has an option on his contract that needs to be picked up by April 1 — which owner James Dolan should do as Walsh has done a good job undoing all the damage Thomas did and turning this franchise around. But even so, Walsh is expected to step down in the next couple of years.

Right now, Allan Houston is the number two guy in the Knicks front office. Warkentien brings a proven, successful GM into the that mix. Warkentien helped trade Allen Iverson for Chauncey Billups in Denver. Warkentien’s reputation is as a guy who can find talent deep in the draft and someone who has good ties to players overseas.

Who knows what the Knicks front office will look like in a couple of years, but they could do a lot worse than Warkentien.