The New York Knicks have removed the interim label from Glen Grunwald's title. He is now the formal successor to Donnie Walsh, and as such, occupies two enormous boots.
There didn't seem to be any question Grunwald would maintain this position. He's done an admirable job, considering Steve Novak and Jeremy Lin came from nowhere to be enormous contributors. Certainly, there's a trace of good fortune in those acquisitions, but the General Manager receives enough flak when deals go awry. He can take credit when things work out.
The interesting sidebar to Grunwald's tenure now becomes the fate of interim coach Mike Woodson - the Knicks sure have a lot of interims. The case for keeping Woodson is solid. He's 16-6 with this group. Name another Knick coach that can claim any such stretch over the last 10 years. He's also somehow connected with Carmelo Anthony, probably by simply giving him the ball 100% of the time on offense.
But the most profound reason for removing Woodson's interim tag can be summarized in one word - defense. Remarkably, he has glued together a disparate bunch of offense players and motivated them to be pesky and active, if nothing else, on the defensive end. There have been some games in which the Knick defense has been stifling. How refreshing.
But of course, with the Knicks, there's always a flip side. If James Dolan lines up in Mike Woodson's corner, you can make a case it has to be a bad idea, as clueless and wrong-headed as he is at virtually every critical basketball moment. There's the Indiana connection as well, and we all know what that means. Grunwald in the front office and Woodson on the bench might also signal the return, in some capacity, of Isiah Thomas, Dolan's good friend and confidante. Of course, that would be an unmitigated disaster.
Let's also keep in mind that while Woodson is 16-6, it's a small sample. There's a honeymoon period with new coaches, especially when they're replacing disliked former coaches - and for whatever reason, Mike D'Antoni was not beloved by the stars, most notably 'Melo. We all understand D'Antoni's philosophy concerning sharing the ball, and it's obviously not focused on superstar play. So who really knows if Woodson translates into championship caliber beyond 2012.
With playoff expectations fairly low, there's little Woodson can do this year to hurt his candidacy.
Glenn Vallach has been a New York Knick fan since the days of Howie Komives and Walt Bellamy, when he regularly boarded the IRT Subway at 180th Street in the Bronx for a trip to the Garden to see his heroes. Since the last championship in 1973, he has alternately yearned and suffered, hoped and lamented...he's waited long enough.