If you believe the NY Daily News, the Knicks just might be putting together what Bill Simmons would call "the crappy GM summit" in their front office.

Seriously, I'm getting the Photoshop on my laptop this week, so I can put the right faces on these guys:
These guys are responsible for the style of dress of many a blogger ..
According to Mitch Lawrence, Donnie Walsh has a "handshake agreement with the Knicks on a three-year, $15 million contract to come home and rebuild the Knicks".  Sounds good.

Then he adds that there is a possibility that Walsh will keep Isiah Thomas on as head coach.  It's apparently a strong enough possibility that Lawrence both headlines his column with it, and spends most of the column trying to argue against it.  Even if you think it seems unlikely, keep these two things in mind:  One, owner James Dolan owes Isiah another three years and $18-21 million, so he's going to have to decide whether to eat that cost or not.  Dolan might just not want to.  And two, Donnie Walsh is the only GM to hire Isiah Thomas as a coach besides Isiah himself.  They have a good relationship, going back to their time in Indiana.  So... it's not that unlikely that Walsh might keep Isiah on, or that it may even be part of the conditions that he is/was hired under.

But here's the part of Lawrence's article that really threw me for a loop, near the end:

Walsh will need some help to get the Knicks turned around, and is expected to hire a new general manger. Denver's Mark Warkentien is widely regarded as his No.1 choice, but is under contract with the Nuggets. Former Sixers GM Billy King is also held in high esteem by Walsh.

Awesome!  Yes, let's bring in Billy King as GM.  That's tremendous.  I'm going to pause now and recap what we Knick fans might be looking at:

Head Coach: Isiah Thomas.  His reputation as GM/coach, while I feel a bit misleading, is well known.  Particularly since he bares a large chunk of responsibility for the current salary cap situation by signing or trading for the following overpaid players: Jamal Crawford, Eddy Curry, Zach Randolph, Jerome James, and Jared Jeffries.  We'll give him a bye on Stephon Marbury, because he was worth close to what he was getting paid at the time of the trade. 

GM:  Billy King, the man responsible for some of the worst salary cap management ever during his stint as the Philly 76ers' GM:
  • King traded for a washed-up Chris Webber and his $20 million a year contract, which actually outlasted Webber himself in the NBA - Webber retired yesterday (two seasons after getting cut from the 76ers), while his $20 million contract is still on Philly's cap until the end of the season.
  • He's sign some pretty bad contracts of his own - see Samuel Dalembert, Kyle Korver, and Kenny Thomas' contracts for examples.
  • He also traded second-year budding star Larry Hughes and Bruce Bowen for a washed-up Toni Kukoc.
  • Somehow found a way to waste the talents of one of the best guards ever (Allen Iverson), a Hall of Fame player who, in his peak, somehow willed his team to 50 wins a Finals berth despite his second best player being a washed up Mutumbo.  Then, because of all his bad trades and bad contracts (particularly the Webber one), he had no choice but to trade away the best player on his team for next to nothing!
President: Donnie Walsh.  I like Donnie, and I think he did a great job in Indiana building one of the best teams of the 90's.  However, at some point it would be nice if someone explained to me how much responsibility he bares for the disaster that the Pacers have become, versus how much is Larry Bird's fault.  Because, looking at that team, you see a salary cap disaster that rivals King's 76ers and the Isiah/Layden's Knicks:
  • Jermaine O'Neal, a guy who can only stay healthy for about 50 games a year, is getting paid $20 million a season until 2010.
  • Jamaal Tinsley, a point guard who, at his best, is maybe the 16th best guard in the league, is getting $7 million a year until 2011!
  • Thanks to the Pacers' dump trade of Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington, they got stuck with two of the worst contracts in the league - Mike Dunleavy and Troy Murphy, both of whom will get over $10 million a year until 2011.
  • Dumped Ron Artest at his lowest value (there were times they could have moved him, even after the Fight at Auburn Hills, for a little more) for a washed up Peja Stojanovic, who they let walk at the end of the season as a free agent.  No sign and trade, no draft picks or young players acquired in either the Artest dump nor the follow-up free agency of Peja.  In fact, it says a lot that this deal is considered the worst move of the past three years, and not the trade that landed Murphy and Dunleavy.
So how much of that is Larry Bird's fault, and how much is Donnie Walsh's?  Was Donnie Walsh just sitting back and watching while Bird ran the franchise into the ground, or was Walsh an active participant, too?  And if he was sitting back and watching... um, what's he going to do differently if King is his GM?

Anyway, this is all pure speculation.  I find the local press more humorous than anything else.  The reality is they have no clue whether Donnie Walsh is really on his way or if he's just using the Knicks to get a better offer from the Milwaukee Bucks.  They have no idea if Isiah Thomas is going or staying.  They have no idea if Billy King is really a possibility, or if that's just another name being pushed by his agent.  And, of course, neither do I.  So until we all know for sure what's going on, I going to try to sit back and enjoy the show.  Because this is actually pretty entertaining...


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12 Comments

Comments

[March 26, 2008 11:18 AM]  |  link  |  reply
Joe said

Knicks really just need a guy who is committed to rebuilding the right way. Zach Randolph will be there along with several other contracts for what? 4 more years? The Knicks need to just take their time and stockpile talent for the next 3-4 years then evaluate where they are. They then need to make decisions on those contracts. Should they trade those expiring contracts for big names or just let them expire? It is New York though so who knows what is on the way... patience isn't really a strong suit for that city.

I feel a need to comment what you say about the Sixers. Sorry.

"GM: Billy King, the man responsible for some of the worst salary cap management ever during his stint as the Philly 76ers' GM:"

Adequate description. Good evaluator of talent though. He built a pretty talented Sixers team.

"he had no choice but to trade away the best player on his team for next to nothing!"

I watched AI everyday for about 10 years? I have watched Miller for let's say 100 games. These 100 games are the best set of 100 games I have ever seen from a guard in my life. Pure opinion I know, but I am being honest. I believe people watch too much sportscenter. Iverson is a career sub-40% playoff shooter.

[March 26, 2008 12:48 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Brian said

To be fair, King and Walsh did create messes in Philly and Indy, but nothing even close to the mess that is the New York Knicks. They couldn't possibly do worse than Isiah has with this team, so by default, either would be an upgrade.

[March 26, 2008 1:56 PM]  |  link  |  reply
stopmikelupica said

Joe: Agreed. The Knicks best move, in terms of rebuilding, would be to sit back, let the young players play, and add in the top-5 pick they are working so hard to get this year.

I would also add, since they are over the cap until 2010, that they shouldn't pick up any contracts that extend past that season. However... since it doesn't matter if you are over the cap $1 or $50 million over, they should use their natural advantage, namely James Dolan's willingness to spend. That means I have no problem with trading Malik Rose and Stephon Marbury's expiring contracts next year, provided the contracts they get back don't extend further than 2010. And if they pick up some good young players, draft picks, or other assets, good.

The biggest mistake trade of Isiah Thomas GM term was, ironically, the one he got the most props for - last year's draft day deal of Steve Francis for Zach Randolph. If the Knicks had just brought out Francis... one, this season might have been better. Curry might have continued to develop, etc. Two, the Knicks would have been almost under the cap (about $42 million, plus David Lee and Nate Robinson's extensions) in 2009, and certainly in 2010.

But with Randolph signed through the end of the 2010 season, it seems iffy that the Knicks can get enough under the cap for that season to make a run at LeBron. Unless Eddy Curry or Jared Jeffries opts out, or the Knicks trade Randolph, it don't look too good.

On Andre Miller: He's one of my favorite point guards. I often will make sure to place him in my top-10 list, and have even written things like "If Miller was in Phoenix playing in the Suns system, with Marion and Amare, the Suns would be almost as good". So that's no knocking Miller on my part.

But Iverson was the best player on that team. That's all I was saying. And yes, he Miller deserves better than being called "next to nothing". But the 76ers traded a Hall of Famer, in his prime, for way undervalue.

Brian: I would argue the mess in Philly and Indy (and Minnesota, too) are worse than the mess here, because of the starting points. King had an MVP in Iverson; Isiah had Allan Houston's contract on the books until 2007. King had a franchise player to build around, and messed it up. Isiah had nothing close to that in NYC. Big difference.

[March 26, 2008 2:15 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Brian replied to stopmikelupica

I don't care where he started, Isiah has a 23-win season, 33-win season, and now probably another low 20's win total under his belt with a payroll way over the luxury tax each year. They weren't this bad before he came on board when the Eastern Conference was more competitive. Not only have his results been just pitiful, he's also put them in a position where they won't have cap space for at least 2 more years. This is, without a doubt, the worst job any GM has ever done, in any sport. McHale is garbage, but at least he has Al Jefferson, cap space and picks to show for it. What do the Knicks have?

Don't get me wrong. Bringing Billy King in would be a mistake, but he isn't going to make them any worse off than they are right now. Anyone would be an improvement, even McHale.

[March 26, 2008 6:39 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Joe replied to stopmikelupica

Instead of trading Marbury, let it expire. If you take on somebody else who has 2 years left you are going to lose 40 million dollars.

Instead of wasting the money, just it for something useful like just buying draft picks. I know no one really does it, but I think you can. I know the Blazers have come out and just bought picks in the past.

Call up Steve Kerr and offer him 5 million for the Hawks' 1st rounder and he will bite probably.

Isn't Lebron going to Jay Z's Nets anyway??

I believe the Sixers got the better of the deal. We won't come to an agreement here I think. I don't consider Steve Nash a top 5 point guard either to be fair. I think people undervalue size at the guard position and overvalue size at the forward position.

[March 26, 2008 11:27 PM]  |  link  |  reply
andrew said

small correction: the pacers didn't let stojakovic walk for nothing - they actually did a sign-and-trade for the draft rights to andrew betts (who?), and got a $7.5 million trade exception out of the deal (which they then used to get al harrington). i'm sure i remember that deal actually being praised, because peja COULD'VE walked for nothing, but somehow the pacers convinced the hornets to do this instead.

[March 27, 2008 11:38 AM]  |  link  |  reply
BARF said

SML- we must either be two of the stupidest m-f-ers arounds, the stubbornest or the most impenetrable heads for the local press cuz I agree that considering where the franchise was, and who was on the rosters...putting all the doom and gloom of this most current season aside, the job here in NY isn't close to the worst.

Up until last year, Boston was having a pretty terrible last 3 yrs. And if you listen to Dolan and Isiah tell it, the Knicks could be this yrs Boston.

Moral of the story? For as bad as it may seem this yr, things definitely could be worse. The brightest spot to me as a Knick fan during these last few yrs is that I like the individual talent on this team, both young and old, from 1 - 10, exclusing Rose, JJames and Marbury.

The mix and chemistry on the floor is tough to watch sometimes because there's absolutely no balance to the roster...and ZBo is far from the answer NYC thought him to be during the summer but with Malik and Steph's $30 mil worth of expiring contracts and a potential high lottery pick...the outlook has been a lot worse in NYKnickland.

I understand the fuss about Isiah, I just don't really agree. Or maybe I should say, I agree...just not to the extreme that the local press and it's fans take it to.

Peace SML - good stuff

I feel funny

[March 27, 2008 12:44 PM]  |  link  |  reply
stopmikelupica said

Barf, I'm with you - despite the local media, national media, and guys like Brian, insistance... I think there are far worse GMs than Isiah.

For example, I can only think of two situation in which the prime of an MVP player was wasted on a lottery team - Iverson and Garnett. Kobe came close, but even he was good enough to get the Lakers to the playoffs. When you look at the real MVP-level players of the past 20-30 years - Shaq, Duncan, Kobe, LeBron, Garnett, Iverson, Dirk, Nash, soon (next two to three years) Chris Paul, going back to Jordan, Malone, Robinson, Magic, Hakeem, Bird - there are only two MVPs who spend their prime on back to back lottery teams - Iverson and Garnett. Not even Barkley. That says more about those teams than anything else. Because generally an MVP doesn't stop playing like an MVP in his prime.

And that tells me that McHale, and King, are two of the most inept GMs of all time. When you show me an example of Isiah wasting a talent, then you can put him in that category of ineptitude. Yes, like Scott Layden, Isiah has failed to acquire enough talent to turn this team into a playoff contender. But that hardly makes him the first GM to fail to turn a sh*tty team around - look at the Hawks and Clippers for the past ten years. Let's see where the T-Wolves are after the fire McHale, or the 76ers in three to five years, or even the Bulls, who thought they had finally turned the corner, but apparently haven't....

[March 27, 2008 1:20 PM]  |  link  |  reply
BARF said

Now, the next installment to the argument is:

"But Isiah has a $20 mil player in Stephon who has failed".

To which I say, Steph had his problems before he arrived here. His problems were no secret.

What's it say about the state of the Knicks that a GM take a shot on Marbury?

Because at that time, I remember being mentally unable to sit through a game of watching the Knicks. Fool's gold or not, Stephon to the Knicks made them relevant again. Not so much so that I thought they were going to the playoffs but that they were at least interested in acquiring the talent required to compete.

I think Isiah accomplished that. I think he fouled up his experiment by adding ZBo ( who I think is the leading candidate as the snitch of the Knicks as a newbie the roster) and 2 more young'ns (Morris and Chandler).

Marbury was never as bad for the team as he was this year. I didn't think Marbury was Isiah's biggest mistake until this year. I think maybe Marbury let the ZBO trade heighten his expectation before anyone actually put any work in. For as bad as I think he is for the team, he's their best player, skillwise. They need him to contribute consistently to win consistently.

That never happened, so the team, being led by ZBO and an out of position Crawford...was doomed.

Pick up Walsh, let Isiah coach another year (or less considering how the Knicks come out of the gate next year) and try to balance out the roster with older guys.

That's next step in the Knicks continued rebuilding. If that doesn't work...then I say...f-ck it. Blow the team up and start over.

Year 5 will soon be upon us. It's a make or break year next year.

On another note: Isn't the Knicks payroll number at around $86 million. With Steph and Malik's contract up at the end of next year...that will bring the payroll number to around $56 million. Am I trippin? Doesn't that mean some cap room by the end of next year?

Isn't $59 million that salary cap number this year? Maybe $60 - 62 million next year?

[March 27, 2008 2:22 PM]  |  link  |  reply
stopmikelupica said

Barf: The salary cap is set at $60-61 million next year. So at the end of the 2008-2009 season it'll probably be $61-62 million.

The Knicks are paying $90 million next year, then Marbury and Rose ($30 million) comes off. The cap number right now for 2009-2010 is at $58 million. Specifically that $58 million covers: Randolph (16.0), the player options that Curry (10.5), Q-Rich (9.3), Crawford (9.4) and James (6.6) all are going to exercise, plus Jeffries (6.5). Total: 58 million.

Now add in the team options on Balkman (2.0), Chandler (1.3), and Collins (1.8).

Now add in the salary for this year's draft pick, let's say the #5 pick, which is probably slated at $2.5 for 2009-2010.

That doesn't include the Knick's 2009 Draft pick's salary either.

And we'll have to resign Nate Robinson and David Lee at the end of 2009, as they will be restricted free agents. Lee in particular might draw some interest. Let's say we resign both of them for around a total cost of $9-10 million for 2009-2010 season.

And Randolph Morris is still up in the air at the end of this season.

Presuming they are all around, we're looking at close to $80 million for the 2009-2010 season.

Until we get rid of Randolph, Crawford, Curry, James, Jeffries, and Richardson's contracts (or at least four of them), we can't get under the cap.

Now, in 2010-2011... we still have $45.4 committed to four of those six players (Richardson and James come off in the summer of 2010). Add in Lee/Robinson/Morris's free agent deals, the two first round draft picks (2008, 2009 - we don't have a 2010 pick), a new contract for Balkman, and our 2011 number is probably just a shade under $60 million.

The good news: We can probably trade one of more contracts as they get closer to expiring. For example, Randolph's contract might - might - be tradeable in 2010 for an expiring contract to a team desperate for a big man. Curry, too.

The rule I have for salary caps is this: You can't get under the cap until your worst contract expires. In the Knicks case, right now that is 2011. With that in mind, I'm a believer that trying to get under the cap is futile until your worst contract expires, and since it doesn't matter if you go over the cap by a $1 or $30 million... use that to your advantage. Trade Richardson to the Jazz for Kirilenko and our #1 pick back. Trade Marbury's expiring contract to T-Wolves for Marko Jaric, Antoine Walker, and Troy Hudson, plus a few of those extra draft picks they have. Maybe get a little foresight about it, and ask for Minnesota's #1 in 2009, and Boston's #1 in 2011. Both might be lottery picks those years. Those kind a deals might work, with the key being to not pick up a contract that goes past 2011, since that's when the other deals expire.

That might be the only way to truly "clean up" the mess, so to speak....

[May 9, 2008 5:35 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Bill said

Only hope is to trade for Artest. Dump either Curry or Randolph, but not both. Lee, Crawford, Robinson and others more than expendable.

[August 8, 2010 2:04 PM]  |  link  |  reply
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