UPDATE: Donnie Walsh has finished his conference call to the media, and the overriding theme seems to have been that this was not a firing and not a result of a rift with James Dolan. Dolan wanted Walsh to sign a multi-year deal, but Walsh felt he couldn’t commit to more than one season for health reasons. Walsh will be a point man in the hiring of the next general manager, and apparently he already has a short list of candidates in mind. (Aside: I hope that Kevin Pritchard and even young whippersnapper Allan Houston are on that list.)
That’s Walsh’s end of the story, but there are undercurrents that Dolan wanted to reduce Walsh’s salary (Alan Hahn reports from $5M to $2M) and they disagreed over what sort of control Walsh would have over basketball decisions as GM. Still, it’s nice to see that this is an apparently amicable parting of ways, and that Walsh will be on the scene to minimize any organizational turmoil as we hit the offseason.
With the draft only 20 days away, it’s at least somewhat heartening to note that Walsh will remain with the team in a consultant’s capacity. Still, this is pretty sobering stuff.
The press release from the Knicks reads thus:
“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.”
More on Walsh’s future, who might replace him, and whether Chris Broussard will reflexively conjecture that, hey now, James Dolan is great friends with Isiah Thomas so maybe Isiah could come back (UPDATE: He totally did! And so did Jackie MacMullan, who made sure to add a quick and journalistically responsible “Obviously I don’t know that, I’m just sitting here at Shaquille O’Neal’s wedding,” to remind us that this is what real journalists do), as it all breaks…