Tag: Walsh out

Boston Celtics v New York Knicks - Game Three

Carmelo Anthony surprised by Walsh’s departure

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How unexpected was the exit of Donnie Walsh from the power structure of the Knicks?

It caught Carmelo Anthony off guard, he told Newsday.

The Knicks forward said Monday that he was getting treatment at the Knicks ‘ practice facility Friday when he heard that Walsh will be ending his tenure as team president.

“It was awkward,” Anthony said when asked how he felt. “I was up in Westchester and someone pulled me aside and told me. It caught a lot of people by surprise, because no one knew what was going on.”

It also reportedly caught Walsh himself off guard. It caught everybody but owner James Dolan off guard. (And maybe Isiah Thomas.)

Dolan had no obligation to tell Anthony or Amar’e Stoudemire his plans in advance, nor did he need to consult them. But, that’s what good organizations do — they at least give their star players a head’s up, so they don’t learn about it from some random guy at the practice facility, or on ESPN (or PBT!). You show that kind of respect to your stars. But respect has not been a buzzword with the Knicks in a long time.

Donnie Walsh out as Knicks president in shocker

Donnie Walsh

UPDATE 4:16 pm: According to Howard Beck at the New York Times, another sticking point of negotiations was Dolan’s insistence that Walsh take a 40 percent paycut, from $5 million down to $3 million. Yes, it’s still a boatload of money, but what if your boss asked you to take a 40 percent paycut? It’s offensive, especially after he slashed the Knicks payroll in half.

The other thing of note is that decision seemed to catch Walsh and pretty much everyone with the organization off guard. It had been expected that he would return for at least another year to finish the rebuilding job.

11:34 am: Donnie Walsh, the man who returned the Knicks to the playoffs while getting them out of salary cap hell at the same time, is out as the president and general manager of the Knicks.

The move was announced in a press release Friday that called the move “mutual.” That’s a loose interpretation of the word, Walsh had said many times he wanted to finish the job he had started with the Knicks. Here is what Knicks owner James Dolan said.

“…Donnie Walsh and I have mutually agreed that he will be leaving his position as president, basketball operations of the Knicks at the end of June. Donnie will remain with the team as a consultant for the 2011-12 season. In a relatively short time with the Knicks, Donnie made a tremendous impact, which will be felt for many years to come. We thank Donnie for his leadership, hard work and many contributions to the revitalization of the team.

Glen Grunwald will step in as the interim GM. (For the record, Grunwald came to the Knicks from Toronto, where he was hired as an assistant GM by Isiah Thomas then brought with Thomas to the Big Apple… just saying). Former Denver executive Mark Warkentien also remains in the Knicks front office, but he didn’t get the main job.

Walsh’s contract was up after this season but he had stayed on since April 30 as two sides were reportedly close to a two-year extension. However, as part of that Walsh demanded autonomy to make basketball decisions — Dolan had come in and taken over the trade for Carmelo Anthony, offering far more than Walsh had wanted and stripping the team of role players. Walsh wanted control. Dolan clearly was not willing to give that up. At age 70, Walsh didn’t need to put up with this.

Walsh was in the right here. He had not been perfect — and in Dolan’s eyes Walsh was unable to deliver LeBron James, even though Dolan is largely the reason James had doubts — but from when he took over Walsh had cut the Knicks payroll in half while getting the team back to the playoffs. Walsh built the foundation of future success for this team, he deserved the chance to build the building.

The search for a long-term replacement is on.

However, Dolan is still tight with former GM Isiah Thomas and this can only be seen as a win for his influence in the organization.

Is Mike D’Antoni’s job now in danger in New York?

Mike D'Antoni, Toney Douglas

Donnie Walsh, the consummate professional who never speaks ill of ownership in public, said all the right things in his phone conference call Friday about him leaving as president of the Knicks. Well, the right things if you’re Knicks owner James Dolan. Nobody bought a word of it, but Walsh went through the motions, as you would expect.

But there was a vibe off his call that left many thinking changes were coming. And Mike D’Antoni as coach may well be one of them.

Walsh never said that. He said he gets along well with owner James Dolan. He said it wasn’t a disagreement about his autonomy to make trades and not have Dolan step on his toes (which is the opposite of what every off the record source will tell you). Walsh said at age 70 he couldn’t make a multi-year commitment to do this job with the energy needed, so he decided to step away. He tried to say he wasn’t pushed. Nobody believes him. Mike Kurylo — one of the great OG NBA bloggers — of Knickerblogger tweeted the quotes:

“[Autonomy] had nothing to do with it. I don’t understand why people make a big deal about an owner getting involved with negotiations.”

Walsh said Isiah Thomas was not involved as far as he knew. If you believe this, I have some land in Florida I’d like to sell you.

Kurylo and others noted that Walsh seemed to feel for the situation D’Antoni would be left with.

“I love working with Mike [D’Antoni] as a coach.”

“Mike & I like each other… we knew the 1st 2 years would be difficult…. I put him in a position where he didn’t have a chance to win.”

“I know [D’Antoni] can take this team to the next level.”

D’Antoni was given an impossible task his first two seasons with the Knicks, the roster sucked and needed to get worse to undo all the bad contracts Thomas left them with. Last season he had the team playing well before the Carmelo Anthony trade, afterwards it was hit and miss. As you expect with a team that got thrown together midseason with no good role players.

D’Antoni is in the middle of a clearly divided Knicks upper management. Some love his entertaining, fast paced style of play and think it will work with the right players. Others think he doesn’t make defense enough of a priority and that they can never win with him as coach.

Walsh was clearly a D’Antoni backer, but the new GM… who knows? If Dolan things — or can be convinced by friends and associates (*cough* Isiah Thomas *cough*) — that D’Antoni has to go, he will be gone maybe by next season.

Hazarding a guess as to what is next is a foolish exercise. But that leaves D’Antoni standing in a place that is not as solid as it was 24 hours ago.