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Tag:management
Posted on: June 3, 2011 2:46 pm
 

Walsh says departure was a matter of age

Posted by Matt Moore

On a conference call Friday afternoon after it was announced he would be leaving his position as President of the Knicks, Donnie Walsh pinpointed age and the need fro the President going forward to work under a multi-year deal as the primary reasons why he would be departing the Knicks after three years.  

"Jim (Dolan) and I started working on some sort of extension that would be a multi-year deal. The more we talked about it, the more I realized I wouldn't want a multi-year deal. I can understand why he'd want that. I just realized I probably wasn't the guy to go forward with."

Walsh, ever the company man and a man who does business "the right way" denied reports that autonomy was an issue between he and Dolan, with rumors implying Dolan wanted more control over decision-making than Dolan was comfortable with. Still, there were things Walsh said to suggest everything is not peachy within MSG. 

"I basically had a good relationship with Jim," Walsh said. "He treated me very well." Walsh spoke about how it's commonplace for owners to be involved in negotiations like what occurred during the trade negotiations for Carmelo Anthony. He denied that Dolan's involvement led in any way to his departure.

"No, it had nothing to do with it. I don't understand why people make a deal about an owner getting involved in a negotiation. I was called and told by (Dolan) before the deal, 'I can't make this decision. This is your decision.'" 

Walsh spoke highly of the organization, the fans, his staff, and Mike D'Antoni, saying he had spoken with the Knicks head coach prior to the announcement and given him his support to "finish the job."

As far as the future of the Knicks, Walsh spoke often about "filling in the blanks" or "gaps" on the Knicks' roster with players to support the two franchise superstars, Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire. He said he will relocated to Indiana but maintain an apartment in New York in his role as a consultant to help with "whatever (he) can." 

Most forcefully, Walsh denied Isiah Thomas' involvement in the situation. 

"I don't think Isiah Thomas had anything to do with basically anything I'm doing right now. I've always had a relationship with Isiah, I'm not going to give that up because everyone's talking and writing about it. I haven't seen Isiah in a long time."

The New York Daily News reports that part of the offer from James Dolan to Walsh to stay on including a 40 percent pay cut.
Posted on: June 3, 2011 11:32 am
Edited on: June 3, 2011 12:51 pm
 

Donnie Walsh out as Knicks' President



Posted by Matt Moore

In an absolutely stunning development, the New York Knicks announced Friday that Donnie Walsh would be leaving his position as President of Basketball Operations. Read more on the Knicks' decision from Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, who says the Knicks are facing dark days ahead without Walsh. The Knicks' statement from owner James Dolan:

“Following a long series of discussions regarding his future role with the New York Knicks, 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.

 “We will now begin an immediate search for a new president and general manager, but do not have a timetable for the decision. Glen Grunwald, the Knicks' senior vice president, basketball operations, will serve as interim general manager beginning in July, overseeing all player transactions. With some of the NBA’s premier players, an outstanding coach and one of the league's most passionate and loyal fanbases, we are extremely confident about the future of the Knicks franchise.”


Talk had begun of a two-year extension between the Knicks and Walsh as early as April 25th following the Knicks' first-round exit, Ken Berger of CBSSports.com had reported. The New York Post reported on May 5th that Isiah Thomas was possibly not returning as an advisor. Now the question will be what happened between the April 27th report that the extension of Walsh was coming within days, and Friday's dramatic re-invention of the Knicks. 

Interim GM Glen Grunwald served as VP of the Denver Nuggets in the 90's before being hired as an Assistant General Manager for the Toronto Raptors by... Isiah Thomas. From a 2006 profile of Grunwald after joining Thomas in New York:
 

Thomas and Grunwald of course go all the way back to the University of Indiana where they were co-captains on the 1981 NCAA Championship team. Then, while Isiah Thomas was still leading the hopes and dreams of Torontos expansion franchise, he hired Grunwald and after Thomas headed south of the border, Grunwald was left to run the show. Grunwald spent seven seasons with the Raptors and while his contract as GM was not renewed after the Raptors 2003-04 season, he was responsible for many of the Raptors "highs" including three consecutive playoff appearances at one point. However even after his dismissal from the Raptors, Grunwald remained in Toronto taking a job with the Board of Trade and it seemed like Grunwald had found his new calling. But Isiah Thomas move from the front-office back to the bench where he will coach the Knicks this upcoming season changed all that. Thomas decided he needed some front-office help and reached out to his former right-hand man.
via The Strange Tale of Glen Grunwald - Raptors HQ.

Grunwald and Thomas' connection is obviously strong, as evidenced by the Knicks' statement from Thomas upon his hiring in 2006:

“Glen is a skilled NBA executive whose expertise will be a great asset to the New York Knicks,” Thomas said. “I know him well from our days as co-captains on the 1981 NCAA Championship team at Indiana University and I hired him in Toronto, where he helped assemble a roster that made three consecutive postseason appearances. I consider him to be a quality evaluator of talent and a skilled communicator.”
via KNICKS: Knicks Hire Glen Grunwald.

The obvious question is whether this move leads to a return by Thomas into power of the Knicks. Thomas was rumored to have been the deciding voice in the Knicks' quest to acquire Carmelo Anthony, prompting Dolan to override Walsh and surrender the house, the car, and the baby stroller to get Melo. When asked if Walsh minded Thomas' possible influence on Dolan after the trade, Walsh said he couldn't care less. From CBSSports.com's Ken Berger: 

What role did Isiah Thomas have in the Knicks’ successful pursuit of Carmelo Anthony?

"I have no idea,” Walsh said, understandably reacting testily to the incessant drumbeat about Isiah’s role. “Only what I read in your papers. … I’m assuming Isiah’s getting ready for the NCAA Tournament. That’s what I’m assuming.”

Maybe in the office pool, but not on the court. Thomas’ Florida International team is 9-17.

Asked if it would bother Walsh if Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan was keeping with his word and continuing to solicit Thomas’ views – as he said in a statement announcing the team was no longer pursuing Thomas’ employment as a consultant – Walsh said, “I could care less. There are a lot of people that talk to him, all right? I could care less.”
via Walsh doesn't care about Isiah's role - CBSSports.com.

A May 2010 New York Post report indicated that Grunwald's contract was expiring and he may not even return. Now he's in charge of the Knicks' decision making on personnel until a new GM can be put in place.  It's possible Grunwald won't have any impact on decision making, in light of the nearly certain lockout on July 1st. By the time the labor dispute is settled, a new regime could be in place. Still, the move reeks of a storm cloud moving in called Isiah.

The decision also stands out as the Knicks have non-Thomas affiliated personnel who could have taken over in Alan Houston, former Nuggets' exeutive Mark Warkentien, and John Gabriel. Grunwald is said to be a shrewd talent evaluator, but his decision history over the last decade leaves quite a bit of concern. 

Ken Berger reports on why this move may have gone down and it's a one-word answer: control.
 
Throughout Walsh’s discussions with Dolan about his future, it was clear from multiple sources with knowledge of the talks that Walsh would not stay with the Knicks if A) he would not have final say over basketball decisions, or B) there was a chance he could be overruled by the Garden’s many agenda-driven outside influences. The most sinister of those was former team president Isiah Thomas, who remains in close communication with Dolan and in the MSG chairman’s circle of trust – despite running the franchise into the ground and turning the Knicks into a league-wide embarrassment.

“They were a joke for six years,” a rival team executive said Friday. “What Donnie has done for that organization, you’ve got to be kidding me. Come on. The whole world has paid attention to basketball in New York because of the guy – in a positive way.”

And they’re paying attention again – for all the wrong reasons.
via Wash's departure means dark days back for Knicks - CBSSports.com.
Posted on: May 23, 2011 7:12 pm
Edited on: May 23, 2011 9:40 pm
 

Blazers President Larry Miller defends Cho firing

Posted by Ben Golliver

PORTLAND, Ore – For the second time in less than twelve months, the Portland Trail Blazers have parted ways with a respected general manager. On the night of the 2010 NBA Draft, word surfaced that the team had agreed to part ways with former General Manager Kevin Pritchard. On Monday, the team announced that it was doing the same with his successor – Rich Cho – roughly one month before the 2011 NBA Draft.

Cho, known for his salary cap acumen and analytical approach, made two moves of substance during his tenure, trading away guard Jerryd Bayless and trading for forward Gerald Wallace. He had meticulously planned his draft war room structure for months, turning a conference room into a think tank with flat screen televisions and white boards adorning all the walls.

He never got a chance to use it.

“I think the big issue was chemistry between him and the owner,” Blazers president Larry Miller told CBSSports.com. “They were just never able to click. Rich is a smart guy, a really nice guy, brings some talents to the table but I think if the chemistry isn’t right, it’s hard for it to work.”

Portland’s owner, of course, is billionaire Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. In his memoir, Idea Man, released a little more than one month ago, Allen writes: “After replacing Kevin Pritchard (who struggled in the managerial parts of his job) with Rich Cho, we believe that we've found a leadership team that can get us back to the Finals."

And, then, Monday’s abrupt news.

“There wasn’t an incident,” Miller maintained. “I think we learned from last year, that sometimes it’s better when you know something, to move sooner than later. If we know this is not going to work, let’s not drag it out. Let’s not put it off, let’s just go ahead and move on it now.”

Cho declined interview requests, but did release a statement through the team's public relations department. "Obviously it's a difficult day, but I want to truly thank Paul Allen and Larry Miller for the opportunity they gave me here in Portland," Cho said. "I also want to thank the fans, players, coaches, business office staff and especially my basketball operations staff who have supported me along the way. I feel good about the work we've done here and I know the Trail Blazers are headed in the right direction."

Asked for Cho's reaction to the news, Miller said simply: "Rich was shocked."

While Cho kept a very low profile in Portland, rarely making public statements, at least two rifts emerged during his tenure. First, an apparent disagreement in how to handle guard Brandon Roy, who made critical comments about his playing time and role both during the season and during the playoffs. Second, a difference in public strategy in terms of handling injured center Greg Oden. While Miller said publicly that the team would likely extend Oden a qualifying offer this summer shortly after he underwent microfracture surgery, Cho remained tight-lipped, not offering a public statement until weeks later.

Miller said Monday that neither issue figured into the decision to part ways with Cho.

“I don’t know whether there were philosophical issues,” Miller said. “The whole deal about Brandon … that really didn’t play into this decision. That was something that was talked about with Rich about how we should handle that around Brandon. We kind of agreed that the best thing was for Rich to talk to him and let him know if something happened again, there would be a suspension. That was the extent of that. It wasn’t like there was any issue around that.”

As for Oden’s future, Miller said the management team was and is in lockstep. “I think we were on the same page, although I may have expressed it one way and Rich may have expressed it another way. From an organization perspective we were on the same page. If Greg does the things that we need him to do or that we expect him to do, then we are going to issue a qualifying offer to him. Rich may have just said the same thing differently than the way I said it. The reality is, even up to Mr. Allen, we’re on the same page.”

That timing of the firing and the quickness with which it came left many Blazers fans scratching their heads and others outraged at organizational incompetence. Indeed, Miller’s explanation about a chemistry rift is a 180 degree turn from previous statements. The team had publicly vouched for Cho’s ability to hit it off with Allen during his job interview and officials had regularly spoken about the new management group’s relationship together.

Miller acknowledged those concerns but chalked it up to a casualty of doing business. “I can understand how fans and people would say, ‘But you guys said this was the right guy.’ The reality is we thought this was the right guy or we wouldn’t have hired him. The fit is just not right. I’ve seen this in other business situations where I’ve worked before. You’ve hired someone at a senior level and you think that the skillset and they’re smart people, they have all the right tools to come in and do a job. Then, you hire them at some point into it you realize that they’re not the right person for that job. The difference is that this is a public situation but to me it’s not unusual. This does happen from time to time.”

The Blazers have no timetable for replacing Cho, and Miller noted that it’s “possible” the team enters training camp in the fall without naming a full-time replacement. In the meantime, the team’s Director of College Scouting Chad Buchanan will serve as Interim GM. “I think we feel comfortable with Chad and the rest of the team out there as far as going into the draft is concerned.”

Buchanan, who has worked for the Blazers for seven years, leap-frogs over Cho’s two hand-picked assistant GMs: Bill Branch and Steve Rosenberry. Miller says both men will remain with the team and are still under contract.

“Chad has been around here,” Miller said. “Even though their titles were different, their responsibilities were not that different. They all reported into Rich at the same level. The reporting structure was the same, it was just a difference in title. I wouldn’t say he’s jumping over them.”

Still, the situation is as bad as it looks. A team beset by injuries on the court and drama off of it.

Miller defended his owner from charges of irascibility. “Mr. Allen is determined to get this right. He’s determined to try to build a championship team here. Determined to make sure this team is going to be the best it can possibly be.”

Miller also brushed aside the notion that he’s serving as the de facto GM. “I do have some things I can bring to the table to help with some of those decision but the decisions are going to be driven by the basketball operations staff. I’ll be there to help and assist those guys in any way that I can.”

Whether or not Miller is correct that the team learned from its mistakes, it’s clear the organization’s leadership doesn’t want to be here again.

“We’re going to make sure we take our time and do it right this time,” Miller said.” I don’t want to go through another summer like this.”

Maybe the third time will be the charm.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com