Tag:James Dolan
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 5, 2011 3:39 pm

Report: Isiah Thomas not coming back to Knicks

Posted by Royce Young

There's always been reason to believe Isiah Thomas wasn't done with the New York Knicks. He's owner James Dolan's friend, Dolan tried to hire him as an "advisor" last summer and reportedly, Thomas was actively involved in bringing Carmelo Anthony to the Big Apple.

But it's going to end there, according to the New York Post.

Current president Donnie Walsh is close to signing a contract extension and Dolan has informed Walsh that Thomas won't be brought back in any capacity. That has always appeared to be a contentious thing within the Knicks front office was who actually had power. The Melodrama was a big example of that.

As the Post reports though, Walsh is "expected to be granted permission to hire his successor as a central part of a new agreement that should be announced shortly."

If you've somehow forgotten, Thomas essentially destroyed the Knicks' cap situation, overpaid everyone, got himself involved in a lawsuit and set the franchise back a good five years. Walsh has resurrected basketball at Madison Square Garden by getting New York's cap under control while also accumulating a good amount of young talent.

There's absolutely no reason to flirt with Thomas again and ignore Walsh. Sounds like Dolan is finally making a very good call here that's in the best interest of his organization and not his personal ones. Not that there isn't some curiosity justified by wondering why it took this long to finally ditch Thomas and commit to Walsh though. But hey, better late than never.

Walsh has reportedly been keen on former Knicks guard Allan Houston as a possible replacement, though I'm sure the Knicks will at least check out the current market. The good news is though, Isiah Thomas won't be one of them.
Posted on: April 27, 2011 10:01 am
Edited on: April 27, 2011 10:28 am

Knicks to extend Donnie Walsh this week?

The New York Knicks are reportedly on the verge of re-signing president Donnie Walsh. Posted by Ben Golliver. donnie-walsh

On Monday, CBSSports.com's Ken Berger reported that the New York Knicks were considering a two-year extension for president Donnie Walsh, with an announcement coming shortly.

On Wednesday, that talk continues, as the New York Post reported that Knicks owner James Dolan is "on the verge" of announcing that Walsh will be retained.
Knicks owner James Dolan is on the verge of announcing Donnie Walsh will be back as Knicks president for next season with an agreement all but sealed, according to multiple sources. One league source said it could be a done deal by this week.
"Jim really wants him back and the only issue left is Donnie getting assurances he's in charge of the basketball operations," the league source said.
According to sources, Walsh had become concerned about the increasing influence of some of Dolan's MSG lieutenants regarding basketball matters. Walsh had taken the job three years ago with the promise he would be the head of basketball operations.
The New York Times also reported Wednesday that an extension is coming in the short term.
Walsh and Dolan are expected to meet within the next few days, according to several people with ties to the team, all of whom asked for anonymity to protect their relationships. All expressed confidence that Walsh would be back, probably with a two-year contract extension.
Money is not an issue, nor is Walsh’s health or his enthusiasm for the job.
Walsh led the Knicks back to the playoffs for the first time since 2003-2004, signing free agent All-Star forward Amar'e Stoudemire last summer and trading for All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony days before this season's trade deadline.

The Knicks were swept out of the first round by the Boston Celtics over the weekend. As noted this weekend, retaining Walsh is a no-brainer given the substantial progress made under his leadership.
Posted on: April 8, 2011 3:16 pm

Knicks interested in UK coach John Calipari?

Are the New York Knicks interested in University of Kentucky coach John Calipari? Posted by Ben Golliver. john-calipari

Another day, another rumor surrounding the New York Knicks front office. All the hot air stems from the fact that Knicks owner James Dolan, to this point, has not picked up the contract option for team president Donnie Walsh, leading to speculation that this will be Walsh's final season in the big apple.

Friday's rumor, courtesy of the New York Post, has Dolan considering college basketball's top recruiter and former New Jersey Nets coach John Calipari.
According to a team executive, who knows a thing or two about a thing or two regarding goings-on behind the screens, believes Dolan may have eyes for John Calipari….to run the front office and coach. Do I have confirmation on this? No. I unsuccessfully reached out to Calipari and left a message why I was calling. Does it make sense? Yes, especially in view of Dolan’s disinclination to do right by Walsh.
We’re talking about a marquee (there’s that word again) college coach fresh from another Final Four, who owns pro experience (some of it good with the Nets), is an outstanding recruiter (though NBA’s salary cap may limit impact) and relates remarkably well with young black players.
Shortly after that rumor hit, SI.com acknowledged that it was a possibility but also raised some questions. 
There are also reasons to question whether the Knicks would consummate the relationship. Calipari's credentials as a bench coach will be questioned: Even though he has experience as a head coach for the Nets, he has failed to win an NCAA championship with Memphis or Kentucky. Coaching in the NBA is far more difficult than in college, and anyone who wants to shoot down the speculation can make the case that Calipari would represent a bench downgrade from Mike D'Antoni.
Will the next collective bargaining agreement maintain free-agency in its current form? How important will recruiting be in future? This story is going to generate a lot of discussion, but it's hard to imagine the Knicks taking such a risk unless they're absolutely convinced Calipari's presence will deliver a third star to New York.
Dolan is way out there as an NBA owner, but this is too much for him. If you're going to hire a big name recruiter, why bother saddling him with coaching responsibilties? If you already have a relatively proven coach in D'Antoni, why replace him for someone that bombed out of the NBA and has proven to be much more effective in college? 

It's clear Calipari wields significant influence in basketball circles. His former players -- even guys like Blazers center Marcus Camby who played for him ages ago -- always sing his praises. But he loves the limelight and he's got all the limelight he can handle in Kentucky, where he's revered as a local idol and just made this year's Final Four. 

Prying him away could eventually happen but not when he's at the top of his game.
Posted on: April 5, 2011 11:18 am
Edited on: April 5, 2011 11:21 am

Donnie Walsh's future in his own hands?

New York Knicks president Donnie Walsh reportedly controls his own destiny with the team. Posted by Ben Golliver. donnie-walsh

New York Knicks president Donnie Walsh has transformed his franchise, landing two superstars over the last 12 months and building the first playoff team the organization has had since 2003-2004. Sure, the Knicks are still sitting at .500 as of Tuesday but they should finish the season with at least 40 wins, something they haven't accomplished since 2000-2001.

The Knicks' future is even brighter. One question: Will Walsh be around for it?

That's been a common question over the last few months in the New York media, as the deadline to pick up the option on Walsh's contract is April 30. Knicks owner James Dolan is often painted as a wild card and some are confused as to why Walsh's option hasn't already been picked up.

The New York Post reports that Walsh's future is in his own hands.
Two league sources say they believe it is up to Walsh, 70, on whether he comes back next season. One of those sources said money was a non-issue, but Walsh had a difficult decision to make as to whether he wanted to return or felt his work at the Garden was complete.
"My dream from Day 1 is to put this team on the path to a championship level," Walsh said. "I don't think it's there now, but we're getting close. That's what I said I'd do in three years. That's what I've done."
"We're on the way now, yeah. We've got a core group that can be the makings of a very good team," said Walsh, sounding like a man who could walk away content in a job well done.
The paper notes that Walsh's contract runs through the end of June, so negotiations on a new deal could take place even if his contract option isn't picked up this month.

Unless there's an issue with his health or age or there's a back room power struggle that the public isn't privy to, Walsh has every reason to finish what he's started in New York. And the Knicks would be crazy not to retain him. The results, and Walsh's decades worth of experience, speak for themselves.
Posted on: March 31, 2011 2:51 am
Edited on: March 31, 2011 11:29 am

Isiah Thomas on Melo going to NY, other things

Posted by Royce Young

I'll cut right to it: Go read this piece on Isiah Thomas at FoxSports.com. It's terrific. It's a wide ranging feature that basically sums up everything about Thomas in a couple thousand words. Some good, some bad and some strange.

One question that was asked of Thomas was his involvement in getting Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks. There was a lot of speculation that was the case as well as solid reporting on it too. Thomas, who of course was once the general manager of the team and is still close friends with owner James Dolan, was said to be quite wrapped up in the Melodrama.

And right before the deal was done, he didn't deny involvement. When he was asked in this most recent interview, he toed around the question carefully.
“I do have a lot of friends,” he says carefully. “And I am asked to advise in a lot of different scenarios. Players, coaches, and ... ” A very long pause. “I won't comment on the Knicks situation, but I do like helping the Knicks, and I do want them to do well.”
I kind of wonder if the Knicks were 17-4 with Melo instead of 9-12 if Thomas would be ready to take a little more credit for it. Of course he has to tread carefully with his dealings with the Knicks as he's still a college coach at Florida International and was already turned down by the league when offered a consulting job with the Knicks.

But the strangest moment of the interview came when Thomas was talking about how badly he wanted to get back into the NBA. He's convinced he soon will be, mainly on the legs that he has lots of friends. And at one point, he pushed the writer interviewing him to call up one of those friends on the spot. Problem was, the one he wanted him to call was one that was going to tell it like it is -- Charles Barkley.
We sit by the Biltmore pool and talk, and after a while I ask him for phone numbers of people who can speak to his situation. I ask him what Charles Barkley would say.

“Here's his number. Call him and ask him.”

I tell him I will.

“Call him now.”

I squirm. Reporters aren't crazy about conducting interviews in front of a story subject. For one thing, if Charles Barkley says bad things about Isiah … well, that could be awkward.

I start to dial and Isiah says, “Don't tell him I'm here! I want to know what he says,” and the full extent of Isiah Thomas' exile hits me.

Here is this accomplished, wealthy, famous, Hall of Fame athlete — and he needs me to tell him what Charles Barkley thinks about him. Exiled indeed.

But still, why not call? Isiah Thomas is dumping numbers on me, including for people, like Barkley, who might very well rip him to shreds. That speaks volumes about his comfort level with being analyzed and discussed. And it's not like whatever Barkley tells me won't appear in this story anyway.

It's going to be public and published, and Isiah will surely read Barkley's comments. Isiah knows this. Barkley, if he takes my call, will know this. I know this.

The phone keeps ringing, but Barkley doesn't answer, and so I hang up, relieved. I send a text instead. I feel like I'm off the hook, and then the phone rings.

“Hey, it's Charles.”

So, with Isiah listening intently, I ask if Isiah belongs in the NBA, as a coach or general manager.

“He's coaching right now,” Barkley says. “He got fired, and when you get fired you don't just go get another job. He's a great guy and I like him, but he made some bad decisions with the Knicks, like I think everyone knows. He has a job now, so that should be his No. 1 priority. Gotta do that.”

I hang up. I tell Isiah what Barkley said. His face falls.

Wildly interesting stuff. And a view into the weird world of Isiah Thomas. One of the all-time greats searching for approval from peers. He's still confident in himself, as he always has been. We all know his record of good and bad and as you'll see in the interview, he's not shy about sharing them, especially the good.

What to make of it all though? I don't really know. With everything on the Isiah Thomas resume, it seems hard to imagine him returning to the NBA soon. He obviously wants to though. But, like Barkley said, he has a job to do now with Florida International, one that he's not doing a very well with (FIU went 11-19 this season) and one that he already tried to divert attention from with the Knicks consulting thing.

Like he said though, having friends in high places is certainly a nice thing to have in your pocket. And it's pretty clear Thomas is still buds with James Dolan. Make of that what you will.

Posted on: February 20, 2011 3:10 pm

Knicks release statement for Melo damage control

Knicks release statement assuring they are in "constant communication" and that no outside individuals are involved in Carmelo Anthony trade talks. World raises eyebrow, says "Uh-huh."
Posted by Matt Moore

The New York Knicks released a statement Sunday affirming that they are all on the same page regarding the Carmelo Anthony discussions, are working together, and that no outside influence is involved in the ongoing talks. The release actually never specifically mentions who they're talking about, as is typical of this bizarre circus that has enveloped All-Star Weekend. From the release: 

“We want to make it abundantly clear that we have been in constant communication throughout this process and the three of us are in complete agreement with everything that we are currently working on. Together, we will do what is best for the long-term success of the franchise. In addition, we want to make it clear that no one from outside our organization has been involved in this process in any way. We will have no further comment at this time.”

The release comes hours after Ken Berger of CBSSports.com among others reported that Isiah Thomas has been brought back into the fold on the Melo negotiations, and has in fact undercut Donnie Walsh's attempts to maintain leverage in the negotiations. The phrase "amateur hour" was used by one source to Berger in regards to how Knicks owner James Dolan has taken Walsh's legs out as Thomas appears to have more and more influence in the conversations. This release will do nothing to stem that tide of opinion. Why?

Because who puts out a release to say it's not so?

The interesting cut of the release is the second to last line, stating "no one from outside the organization has been involved in this process in any way." The curious question there is exactly whether or not Thomas is "outside the organization." The league denied a request from the Knicks to allow Thomas to serve as an advisor while head coach of Florida International University. But Dolan has maintained that he has and will continue to seek counsel from Thomas as a trusted advisor. 

Dolan's continued reliance on arguably the worst executive in the history of professional sports management is boggling.  Even for an owner who hasn't shown himself to be the most patient, the most rational, the most deliberate owner out there, keeping Thomas after he nearly single-handedly brought the Garden to ruins is beyond comprehension.  There's no explaining it, not after it took Walsh nearly two and a half years to bring the Knicks back to a point where they could look to the playoffs again.  This is the kind of whim that can bring an organization back to rubble after just getting its foundation up, and that's evident by Berger's report that Walsh is reconsidering his long-term place with the Knicks should the pattern continue. 

Even if the situation is overstated and the release is on point, it's a damaging development. The Knicks have had to release a public statement to confirm that their president of basketball operations and head coach are still in charge of basketball decisions and that there's no rift. How are the Knicks going to maintain leverage in the fiercest trade negotiation we've ever seen if they're constantly having to cover their flank from talk of subversion by their former executive?

Forget Carmelo Anthony, forget revenue sharing, a change in BRI, 2012 free agency or any of that. What the Knicks organization really needs is a swift slap to the back of the head. 
Posted on: February 20, 2011 12:26 am
Edited on: February 20, 2011 3:16 am

Melo, Nets meet with no resolution

Carmelo Anthony and agent meets with Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov and Jay-Z in Los Angeles to discuss prospective trade for Nets to acquire All-Star. 
Posted by Matt Moore

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com has confirmed an AP report that Carmelo Anthony and Nets majority and minority owners Mikhail Prokhorov and Jay-Z met earlier Saturday night to discuss the Nets' interest in acquiring the All-Star small forward.  The meeting occurred just hours after Prokhorov released a statement through his spokesperson stating no meeting had taken place or was planned, and that they would have no further comment on the matter. The meeting also coincided with a renewed interest from the Knicks as owner James Dolan has become more involved in the talks, Berger reports. 

ESPN reports that the Nets meeting lasted 40 minutes and included Anthony's agent Leon Rose and advisor Bay Frazier, as well as Nets CEO Brett Yormark and GM Billy King. Melo was reportedly "noncomittal" following the meeting, and Yahoo! Sports reports that the Nets "didn't come away very confident." 

So the Nets got their meeting, and failed to hit the home run. But they're not out of it yet. Their biggest problem? James Dolan, who has become involved in the negotiations on the Knicks' side, and is offering up more and more assets to get the second superstar, threatening to damage the leverage Donnie Walsh has very carefully maintained throughout these negotiations. The Nets' biggest advantage? Their remaining ability to threaten Melo by not trading him, then taking his extension offer off the table, leaving him high and dry for the extra money entering a new CBA. 

The Nets have now offered three picks, Devin Harris and Derrick Favors for Melo in a three-way, walked away and said they were through, come back, offered the same deal plus an extra pick, said they weren't meeting with Melo, reaffirmed they weren't meeting with Melo, then met with Melo, and now they still don't have a deal. 

You've got to give it to the Russian, though. 

He's a persistent dude. 

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com