Well, that just happened. Donnie Walsh is the Knicks general manager no more, and with this shocking news comes skepticism and uncertainty for New York basketball’s future. The next GM, the next coach, the next draft pick, the next free agent signing, the next trade; Walsh’s departure will have a snowball effect on the franchise. With the news, Jim Dolan has made the unthinkable his trademark, which is to say when unthinkable decisions are made they should henceforth be referred to as “A Dolan”, or in the verb form, “Dolaned” and “Dolaning”. As in, “Wow, I can’t believe Pittsburgh’s manager just intentionally walked Cincinnati’s pitcher with the bases loaded. He totally Dolaned that one.”
Despite the homesick issues he’d been experiencing over these past couple years, Walsh really wanted to finish what he started. Even though he laid down the rail which directed the Knicks back to playoff contention and basketball relevance—both incredibly impressive feats given what the man had to work with—Walsh left his position for reasons we may never know. It’s safe to say the overwhelming response to today’s news has been worry, fear, anguish, anger, and sadness, but—I hope I don’t come off sounding ungrateful and these words are heard with objective ears—in reality the job he did kinda felt like a valiant runner up trophy. Even though he works in a profession that’s revolved around fortune telling, hindsight second guessers, and lots of luck, Donnie wasn’t perfect.
The moves he’ll most be remembered for while general manager of the Knicks were Plan B fallbacks. The signing of Amar’e Stoudemire to a $100 million was done for two reasons: Nobody else would give him that money, and LeBron chose Miami. Year one was a resounding success, but the future of that contract (and Amar’e's health) is surrounded by a fat question mark. As is whether or not the two superstars who were brought together can coexist in the long haul.
Regarding Carmelo, it’s been reported that Walsh’s first option was in fact point guard Deron Williams, one of the game’s most talented floor generals. For the record I don’t believe any living man could’ve lured James to New York, but the Williams deal remains irksome. So irritating, in fact, that reports of the trade with Denver being done without Walsh’s backing make perfect sense, and to that reason he couldn’t possibly be blamed for Dolaning it up.
Still Walsh is human, and the job he did was an incomplete one littered with silver medals (again not his fault) that when compared to his predecessors make his accomplishments look like a Michael Phelps sweep of the gold. I guess the point I’m trying to make here is that Walsh isn’t the Knicks one and only competent option at GM. There will be a successor, and before we all give up on this team’s chances through the next four or five years, maybe we should wait and see who gets the job. Unfortunately for us all, Dolan remains the Knicks owner, meaning he’ll be the man choosing a decision making replacement. Here are a few popular options courtesy of ESPN Insider:
Allan Houston — who’s currently serving as an assistant GM — has been previously named as a possible Walsh successor, so they could turn to him.
Mark Warkentien — who previously was the GM of the Nuggets and was hired as a consultant of Walsh’s by the Knicks in January — could also get a look.
Chris Mullen is another name that’s been previously brought up as a potential Walsh replacement.
And a darkhorse: Isiah Thomas. It may seem far-fetched, but owner James Dolan reportedly still consults with Thomas and even tried to hire him back as a consultant in August of last year.
That last option…I literally can’t explain in words how much it’s making me shiver. If Madison Square Garden is The Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Isiah Thomas is Lord Voldemort 2.0. There’s really nothing more to say about He Who Shall Not Be Named except if he’s signed, expect the payroll to skyrocket and zero championships to be won. If you’re a Knicks fan get used to people averting their eyes when you walk down the street. But if you’re looking at it with a glass half full mentality, at least it opens up the possibility for an investigative report detailing the extensive blackmail HWSNBN has on Dolan. (Seriously. Somebody immediately hijack the man’s hard drive; I’d really like to know.)
In closing, farewell to Donnie Walsh, a true basketball icon. He will always be much appreciated and loved in New York for doing one hell of a job with this basketball team. I pity whoever has the unenviable task of filling his shoes.