COMMENTARY | After finally recovering from a severe backwards course piloted by Isiah Thomas, the New York Knicks became relevant again under Glen Grunwald.
So, naturally, as the Knicks prepare for training camp next month, team owner James Dolan decided that now would be the ideal time to pull the plug on of all that growth.
Who needs progress, anyway?
Dolan Being Dolan
In a rather stunning move Thursday, September 26, Grunwald, who took over as the Knicks' general manager on an interim basis in June 2011, was reassigned to an advisory role with the club and replaced with new general manager Steve Mills -- ah, yes, the same fellow who recommended Thomas' hiring as New York's president in December 2003 and who as Madison Square Garden president from 2003-08, presided over one of the worst periods in the team's history.
Then again, nothing is quite that shocking anymore with the Dolan-owned Knicks.
After Walsh Cleaned Up Thomas' Mess, Grunwald Curiously Prevented From Finishing the Job
Time will tell how Dolan's latest questionable decision will work out, but what may be particularly painful for Knicks fans is that they waited a very long time for a competitive team in New York, and Grunwald appeared to at long last have the franchise back on the right track.
Under Grunwald's brief stewardship as general manager, the Knicks won their first division title in 19 years, their most regular-season games in 16 years, and captured their first playoff series win in 13 seasons last year.
That all came after Thomas' departure and former Knicks president and general manager Donnie Walsh subsequently ridding New York's roster of the drastically overvalued and underperforming contracts that Thomas consummated.
Knicks Fans Might Not Be the Only Ones to Dislike the Move
Although he'd never admit it publicly, Knicks head coach Mike Woodson can't be pleased with Dolan's decision since in Grunwald, he lost his chief front-office ally and former college teammate at the University of Indiana.
And there will also be some huge roster decisions to be made soon, with several key expiring contracts coming off of the team's books after a couple of years. And sooner than that, the potentiality of New York's best player, superstar Carmelo Anthony, opting out of his current deal next summer, though he has stated he wants to remain a Knick.
Only Dolan knows why he made the move from Grunwald to Mills, but the seemingly ill-fated logic of the decision sparked immediate reaction and conjecture throughout Knicks Nation and the media.
Some have said that Mills will eventually bring back Thomas, who although apart from the team officially, has reportedly remained a strong confidant of Dolan's.
Others have said that there is still far more than meets the eye with a 2006 sexual harassment lawsuit involving Thomas and the Garden (which resulted in the team to doling out $11.5 million) under Mills' watch.
And perhaps the notion that makes the most sense is that Mills' appointment (and Grunwald's removal) sets the stage for an eventual general manager hiring of current team assistant general manager Allan Houston, who, if ultimately given Mills' new role, would hopefully for the sake of Knicks fans steer clear of the type of awfully overvalued contract that New York awarded him in 2001 when he played for the club.
With Great Trepidation, Knicks Fans Can Only Hope for the Best
It's possible that Mills will step in and do a good job going forward. But removing one general manager who had been creating a positive turnaround for another who hired and then stuck with a team president that sent his team into a downward spiral, on the surface, lacks sound judgment.
Whatever happens, Knicks fans still have reason to be excited about seeing the deep and talented team that Grunwald left behind try to take the next step in competing for an NBA title -- a concept that under Thomas was a profoundly unrealistic fantasy.
Yet given the team's track record otherwise, they also can't help but feel extremely nervous about New York's most recent move, one that seems to fly in the face of any sort of common sense whatsoever.
Jonathan Wagner is a regular contributor for Yahoo Sports, covering the New York Knicks and New York Giants. You can also catch him as a Knicks beat writer for New York Sports Day and a co-host discussing a variety of sports topics on the New York Sports Geeks internet radio show. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanJWagner.
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