As we noted on Friday, Donnie Walsh, the man who spearheaded the Knicks' turnaround from laughingstock to playoff team in just three seasons, is no longer a part of the organization after owner James Dolan asked him to take a major pay cut. A franchise that seemed to be turning the corner is now in another transitional period. No one really knows what will happen to them now.
That includes the players, many of whom came to New York under the assumption that Walsh would continue to make personnel decisions and build the Knicks into a championship contender. Carmelo Anthony is one of those guys, and he was taken aback by the news. From Newsday (via PBT):
The Knicks forward said Monday that he was getting treatment at the Knicks ' practice facility Friday when he heard that Walsh will be ending his tenure as team president.
"It was awkward,'' Anthony said when asked how he felt. "I was up in Westchester and someone pulled me aside and told me. It caught a lot of people by surprise, because no one knew what was going on."
Anthony said he has a good relationship with Glen Grunwald, who has been named the team's interim general manager. He also has a close relationship with Mark Warkentien, the former Nuggets GM who joined the Knicks as an adviser on Jan. 30.
On a basic level, Dolan probably should have told his two most important employees -- Melo and Amar'e Stoudemire -- about this decision before it was announced to the public. He didn't have to clear it with them ahead of time, but it's nice to keep your best players informed of major decisions so they feel like they're in the franchise's inner circle.
Still, even if that had occurred, it's possible Melo would have trouble with this news. It's somewhat common to think he came to New York to play in a major market, which is true. But that move was only really possible because of what Walsh did for the team, both in terms of his bringing in quality assets for a trade and making the Knicks into a more attractive destination than they were before he got there. Anthony wanted to play in New York City, but he also wanted to play for a reasonably talented team. With Walsh there, he likely assumed the Knicks would only get better.
Melo has faith in Grunwald and Warkentien, and probably doesn't regret his decision to play for the Knicks. It's just important to remember that Walsh leaving doesn't only affect the Knicks' future personnel decisions. It has an impact on the current players, too.
- Donnie Walsh
- Carmelo Anthony