On Dec. 22, 2003, James Dolan and the Knicks hired Isiah Thomas as president of basketball operations.
Even worse, he took over the head coaching job on June 22, 2006 after Larry Brown was fired.
Thomas made some of the dumbest moves, including adding Eddy Curry for tons of draft picks. Curry had a 60 million contract and found a seat on the bench later in his contract, as well as Marbury, when Thomas left.
Spending the second highest total in the 05-06 season, the Knicks finished with a record of 23-59, the second-to-worst total in the league.
Thomas was supposed to come in and turn the Knicks around. He couldn't be someone who did.
Finally, on April 2, 2008, Donnie Walsh took over for Thomas as the president of basketball operations. Thomas was also replaced by Mike D'Antoni for the head coaching position.
Right away, Walsh went right to work, trying to clear space for LeBron James when he was going to become a free agent for the 2010-11 season.
For the sixth-overall pick of the 2008 draft, Walsh and the Knicks selected Danilo Gallinari. Danilo was sidelined for most of his first year with back problems, finally seeing action on Jan. 17. Many fans were upset with the draft pick and thought the "Knicks rebuilding process wouldn't be a success."
But the pick wasn't so bad after all.
The Knicks made many trades on 2008, cutting down their pay roll for the likes of James.
Although his first move wasn't the brightest in the 2009 draft, when he drafted Jordan Hill eighth overall, he was able to trade the Lakers for the draft rights to Toney Douglas at the 29th pick. After that, Walsh got rid of Quentin Richardson's contract to the Grizzles in a small trade that brought Darko Milicic to the Knicks. That was the first move of many to save cap space.
Thomas, who loved Curry, also loved Stephon Marbury. He also had a humongous contract and sat on the bench with Curry. Walsh had enough of Marbury causing issues, so he placed him on waivers with pay just to force him off the Knicks bench. His contract was from 2003-2009 (five years) for $90 million. His contract, luckily, ended the same year the Knicks were expecting James to consider going to New York.
The 2010-2011 season came, and the Knicks went after James. James decided to go to the Heat, and the Knicks were left struggling to find a superstar after all the hard work Walsh did for this season.
They signed Amar'e Stoudemire to be their superstar. David Lee, like every other player, had his contract expire, and the Knicks made a deal with the Warriors in a sign-and-trade deal. Once again, the Knicks got players who weren't worth much money, including Ronny Turiaf.
They added Raymond Felton as well, and the Knicks were back into contending mode.
Walsh added Carmelo Anthony by the trade deadline in a blockbuster deal, getting rid of guys with high hopes like Felton, Wilson Chandler and Gallinari.
With Walsh becoming sick, he resigned from his position, but did one last thing, and that was drafting in this year's draft. He drafted Shumpert and got the rights to Harrelson, and that most likely helped today's interim general manager, Glen Grunwald, in picking up Tyson Chandler and waiving Chauncey Billups to do so.
Now, the Knicks starting five is filled with three stars and two draft picks by Donnie Walsh.
So, why can't the Mets have a story like this?
As you all know, Fred Wilpon lost tons of money in the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme, leaving the Mets with little money to work with.
Omar Minaya, the former general manager, didn't help the Mets' cause, giving outrageous contracts to Francisco Rodriguez, Johan Santana, Jason Bay, Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo. Like the Knicks, the Mets spent loads of money and had losing seasons, or at least seasons where they didn't get into the playoffs (in New York, a winning season is making it into the playoffs, and for the Yankees, you must go to the World Series).
Fred Wilpon wasn't happy with Minaya, as Dolan was with Thomas, and he fired Minaya and brought in Sandy Alderson to clear space to get money to pay what's owed. The Mets also got a new coach in Terry Collins, saying good bye to Jerry Manuel after a terrible year.
This season, Alderson knocked down over 30 percent of the entire payroll, and still, the Mets have a team that will compete.
Better yet, the Mets are close to selling four to seven minority shares in the next few weeks at $20 million a piece. The Mets will get at least $80 million to work with, and that can only help their cause for now.
Walsh used rookies as rebuilding chips, and that's exactly what Alderson is going to do.
With four very good pitching prospects coming up to the majors soon, the Mets will become a superstar team around a big three of David Wright, Ike Davis and Jon Niese.
Walsh's and Sandy Alderson's tactics are very similar. Their style is being careful with any signing and waiingt until the right time to sign a big free agent. Alderson did not sign Jose Reyes to any crazy deal, which was smart because the Mets don't have the money at this time.
Don't forget, like Walsh did to Curry and Marbury, Alderson let go of Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo when they each had one year left on their contract, just because they were giving the Mets a bad name and weren't playing near as well as they should have.
Sandy Alderson is just getting started rebuilding the Mets into being contenders once again.
The Knicks did it; why can't the Mets?