As we head into the upcoming free-agency period, and season, with Glen Grunwald as the Knicks’ general manager, let’s take a minute to appreciate everything Donnie Walsh did for the Knicks, and show how important smart roster management is.
As Walsh looked at the Knicks’ roster in his first day in office, he saw the likes of Eddy Curry, Zach Randolph, Jared Jeffries, and Jamal Crawford, whose contracts totaled roughly $50 million for the 2010-2011 season. It seemed extremely unlikely that the Knicks would be able to participate in the star-studded free agency class of 2010… In ’08, the Knicks were almost $20 million over the salary cap.
However, after two years of masterful deal making, the Knicks headed into the free-agent class of 2010 with roughly $34 million to spend.
Let’s take a look at some of Walsh’s deals that he made to clean up the roster:
- April 2008 – Donnie Walsh fired Isiah Thomas, a deal most Knicks fans were extremely happy with.
- May 2008 – After a countless number of head coaches for the Knicks, Donnie Walsh lured Mike D’Antoni from Phoenix to New York.
- June 2008 – Danilo Gallinari, the 6’10 sharp-shooting 19 year old out of Italy, was drafted. While this draft pick might have been D’Antoni’s selection, Walsh still gets credited with bringing one of the Knicks’ most useful players for the future, to New York.
- November 2008 – At the time, Jamal Crawford and Zach Randolph were two of the main players helping the Knicks win games. While it was originally met with disappointment, Walsh traded Crawford to the Warriors and Randolph to the Clippers in order to shed large salaries that extended past the 2010 season.
- February 2010 – The Knicks traded Jared Jeffries, and his $7M dollar salary, along with Jordan Hill and a first round draft pick, to the Rockets for Tracy McGrady and his $23M dollar expiring contract. This move cleared up enough room for the Knicks to sign two max free agents in the summer of 2010.
Now, after an unbelievable job of creating caproom, Donnie Walsh had the freedom to create HIS team.
- July 2010 – Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh all passed on the opportunity to play in New York and decided to team up in Miami. However, the Knicks would not leave the summer empty-handed. The Knicks signed Amare Stoudemire to a five-year, nearly $100 million dollar contract.
- February 2011 – Donnie Walsh traded for Carmelo Anthony, Renaldo Balkman, Chauncey Billups, Anthony Carter, and Shelden Williams, while giving up Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mosgov, Wilson Chandler, a 1st round pick, two 2nd rounders, and $3 million. Acquiring ‘Melo gave the Knicks one of the most talented duos in all of basketball.
Donnie Walsh, in two years, managed to shed the Knicks of ugly, restricting contracts, and, ultimatley, was able to rebrand the Knicks as an elite team, once again.
Today, the Knicks need a point guard, a defensive-minded center, perimeter defense, and most importantly, more depth at each position. Under Donnie Walsh’s supervision, I would have no doubts that every need would be filled, in an efficient way. Sports management colleges should take note of Walsh’s excellence and pattern curriculum after his work. However, with Grunwald currently running the team, I have no idea what to expect.
I sure hope Grunwald is a creative individual, because with all this talk of Chris Paul coming to New York, he will certainly need to get creative in order to either build a team around Amare Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul, with little to no salary cap. Or, he will have $13M+ to build a balanced roster.
Only time will tell how Grunwald will do, but I would feel a lot more confident about the Knicks’ roster decisions if Donnie Walsh was still running the show.