Two Steps Forward, One Step Backwards by Marc Rasbury

Last Friday I was running a few errands and ESPN broke the news that New York Knicks Team President, Donnie Walsh, would not be returning next season. I almost crashed into the car in front of me. You might have questioned some of his moves but no one can argue that this man has this team moving in the right direction and changed the perception of the organization. Now the only question is why in God’s name did the New York Knicks allow Donnie Walsh to walk out the door and who will replace him?

Most Knicks fans, like yours truly, were furious when news came out about Walsh’s departure. Now this is not to say that the man had the Midas Touch. He did passed on Eric Gordon in favor of Danilo Gallinari in 2008 and Brandon Jennings in favor of Jordan Hill in 2009.  As much as I feel that Gallinari will be a quality NBA player in near future, the addition of either Gordon or Jennings would have expedited the Knicks turnaround. Then there is selection Mike D’Antoni as the head coach when Tom Tibedou was available.

New York sports teams are normally synonymous with the word defense and that word is not part of D’Antoni’s vocabulary. At first I did not like the choice but after attending his introductory press conference, I thought that D’Antoni could be a good fit for some reason. In all fairness to D’Antoni he has not been dealt a fair deck. The Knicks roster has been a revolving door during the embattled coach’s reign. Now D’Antoni is officially on the clock to show what he can do with two legit superstars in Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire for a full season.

It was a pipe dream three years ago to think that the Knicks would land two bonafide superstars this soon especially considering what Walsh inherited. Former Team President Isiah Thomas left this organization in chaos on and off the court. Walsh had to deal with a talented team with horrible chemistry and the residual effect of the cloud that the Anocha Brown Sanders’ wrongful termination and sexual harassment law suit casted over the entire organization.

Walsh’s first line of business was to clear cap space. By trading away most of the talented players like Jamal Crawford, Zach Randolph and David Lee, Walsh put the Knicks in position to have gone after one or two of the prize free agents this past summer including LeBron James. Unfortunately, James decided to take his talents to South Beach but Anthony and Stoudemere should not be considered some poor consolation.

In the process of working his cap space magic, he also brought a sense of dignity back to the Garden just by his sheer presence. No longer was that air anxiety that permeated over the Garden. For the last three years, MSG has been a more peaceful place and that can be contributed to Walsh.

Rumors have it that Knick’s Owner James Dolan was furious that Walsh did not land James and other rumors claim that Walsh did not appreciate Dolan getting involved with the Anthony trade negotiation. Walsh, along with most folks in the know, felt that the Knicks gave up too much for Anthony and Dolan’s involvement was the reason why.

Allegedly, and rightfully so, Walsh wanted total autonomy and Dolan was not willing to give it to him. Now that Walsh is out of the picture, who will Dolan tab to be the next GM and/or Team President?

Some feel Dolan will stay in house a name President of MSG Sports Scott O’Neil or Vice President of Basketball Operations Glen Grunwald. Then there is the Thomas factor. There are those who feel that the current Florida International University Head Basketball Coach never left the Knicks inner circle. There is no secret that Dolan worships the ground that Thomas walks on. Thomas told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith that he has no interest in becoming the Knicks next GM and that he is happy at FIU. However he also referred to the Knicks as “Us” during the same interview. It may have been a Freudian Slip but intriguing nevertheless. One more thing, Grunwald and Thomas have been good friends since high school. Do not be surprised to see Thomas back at 33rd Street and 7th Avenue if Grunwald gets the job.

You can debate whether Walsh has been effective during his tenure as the Team President but no one can debate the impact this man had on the franchise. He elevated the franchise back to respectability emerging from the muck and mire of the Thomas era. He walked into a disaster and left the organization with a sense of hope. The Knicks appear to be on their way to becoming one of the relevant teams in the League. It is a shame that Walsh will not be around to complete the mission he started.

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The Razz and Jazz Sports Blog was created by Marc "Razz" Rasbury and Derrel "Jazz" Johnson to create fresh opinions on New York Sports and beyond from two credentialed members of the media.
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2 Responses to Two Steps Forward, One Step Backwards by Marc Rasbury

  1. Al says:

    Donnie Walsh is a legend, multi-millionaire and he’s 70= years OLD! It’s time to take a break. He’s made good moves and equally bad moves. How many championships has he won? I raise my glass to him. Let him go home and drink his Johnnie Walker Blue. Always remember in Pro sports. Dolan and the other billionaire owners have the final say. Food for thought. With all the anti- LeBron noise from the press, outside of Miami fans, Cleveland and etc. If a clause in his contract stated that he can become a free agent in the next 24 hours. Dan Gilbert= Cavs Billionaire owner and his 29 other cronies would fight each other to sign LeBron even after a not so good Championship lost. The dollar will make you hollar!

  2. jamaal St.John says:

    James Dolan is an idiot. He gave Isiah Thomas complete freedom to destroy this once proud franchise but wouldn’t give Donnie Walsh the freedom to rebuild it? What a moron! No, Donnie Walsh hasn’t drafted as well as he could have but he did mae great deals to clear cap space and he did sign Amar’e Stoudemire. The Knicks already had a playoff bound team(not to mention the highest scoring team in the NBA) before the Carmelo Anthony trade. We gave up 3 players who were averaging 18pts. A game. We gave up a good back up Center and a bunch of draft picks over the next few seasons. For what? An aging PG who has proven to be injury prone and A guy who can score but not do much else! I said the moment that trade was made that The Knicks gave up way too much. Neither Walsh nor D’antoni were on board with this trade for very good reason. First of all, Donnie Walsh is a “basketball guy”, meaning that he knows the ins and outs of the game and what players work best for his team. He proved this by drafting Landry Fields, Signing Raymond Felton, and getting Amar’e Stoudemire. Those players were perfect fits in D’antoni’s system and played extremely well together in it. Felton was having his best season as a pro,Fields was emerging as a possible Rookie of The Year candidate, and Amar’e was having an MVP type season. Knicks fans loved that team and would have been happy making the playoffs for the first time in 10 years. But James Dolan decided to blow this team up and sacrificee great young talent . The smart thing to do would have been to wait for the Summer of 2012 to snatch up Dwight Howard and let Carmelo go to NJ. Walsh understood that sometimes the best deals are the ones you don’t make. Dolan,on the other hand, became impetuous and jumped the gun even after assuring Knicks fans that he would gut the team for one star player. Walsh also understood that a hard salary cap like the one that The NBA is proposing would keep the Knicks from Signing Chris Paul or Deron Williams which is the only thing that would even make the ‘Melo trade viable. Dolan was also blatantly trying to copy Miami’s blueprint for winning a title by siging 3 superstars. However, The Dallas Mavericks proved in beating Miami that 3 star players don’t make a great TEAM. You have to have balance, star players, role players, good bench players to be successful. If the league implements a hard cap The Knicks have no way of signing a star PG and the ‘Melo trade becomes another Albatross, just like other Dolan moves(Allan Houston’s 100 million dollar contract, Stephon Marbury trade, Eddy Curry trade). If we had been patient we could have had a team of STAT @ PF, Raymond Felton @ PG, Danillo Gallinari @ SF,Dwight Howard @ C, and Wilson Chandler @ SG. Instead we may be right back at square one with salary capp issues becasue we have a ton of money tied up in 2 players. And now, thanks to Dolan we don’t have anybody to fix those issues. What a moron.

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