New York Knicks: Why Glen Grunwald Is the NBA's Most Underappreciated GM
NBA executives aren't always the most popular people in the basketball world, and sometimes we ignore just how admirable a job some of them do.
More so than any other, this is the case with the Knicks' Glen Grunwald, who has done a fantastic job since taking over the team in the summer of 2011.
Inheriting a top-heavy team with around $50 million going to three players—Amar'e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups—Grunwald has built today what should be a title-contending roster.
Whilst he had his two superstars in place, building a supporting cast with so little room to maneuver is one of the hardest tasks in basketball. But, by the looks of this deep Knicks squad, Grunwald has nailed it.
Just a year ago, the Knicks literally had no defense whatsoever, but in his first three moves as the Knicks' interim GM, Grunwald solved this.
The first piece of the puzzle was drafting Iman Shumpert—who was booed on draft night—in what turned out to be the steal of the draft—and a player who instantly joined the likes of Tony Allen and Andre Iguodala as one of the NBA's best perimeter defenders.
Now, Grunwald's predecessor, Donnie Walsh, was still around at the time of the draft pick, so some will look to credit him for the move. But, Grunwald's next two moves had nothing to do with the man who is now working for the Indiana Pacers.
In what was a controversial move at the time, Grunwald hired a high profile defensive assistant for the Knicks, both to shore up the D and, in a way, to provide an alternative to Mike D'Antoni if he couldn't get things done.
Has Glen Grunwald done a good job as the Knicks' GM?
As it turns out, D'Antoni wasn't the man for the job, leaving Mike Woodson to take over as interim head coach in March—a job which he excelled in as the Knicks went 18-6 to close out the season.
Hiring Woodson back then allowed him to build a relationship with his players from day one so that, when the time came for him to take over, there was a smooth transition from one head coach to another.
Had D'Antoni instead proved himself worthy of the job, the Knicks simply would have had themselves a great defensive assistant go along with him—a win-win situation.
The next defensive-minded move was one of pure genius.
With most expecting Ronny Turiaf or a mediocre free agent to start at center for the Knicks, Grunwald instead went out and got Tyson Chandler, who had just come off anchoring the Dallas Mavericks' defense in their title run of 2011.
In doing so, Grunwald had to amnesty the aging Chauncey Billups and, though it's sad to say, no one was really surprised when he went down injured early in the season.
Along with Billups, Grunwald gave up very little in the sign-and-trade for Chandler, with only Turiaf, Andy Rautins, a second-round pick and cash leaving New York.
As we now know, Chandler turned out to be the Defensive Player of the Year, as the Knicks went from being one of the worst defensive teams in the league to one of the best.
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With the financial situation as it was, Grunwald had to do a lot with very little after signing Chandler, and he did that—converting two league minimum contracts into the league's best three-point shooter and a worldwide phenomenon known as "Linsanity."
This offseason, Grunwald's moves have been less drastic—but equally as good—as he's built a deep bench to go with his big-name players.
For whatever reason—be that the Knicks not wanting to spend too much on an unproven player or owner James Dolan feeling betrayed by the Harvard product—Jeremy Lin will not be returning to MSG next season. But, Grunwald has done his part to make sure the Knicks don't miss a beat.
In his place, Grunwald has picked up Raymond Felton—who was a borderline All-Star during his first stint in New York— and a future Hall-of-Famer in Jason Kidd to back him up.
Marcus Camby, Kurt Thomas and now Ronnie Brewer are some of the other names who'll join Kidd in bolstering the Knicks' bench next season—all of whom are upgrades over those the Knicks had before them.
Not bad work with only the mini mid-level exception to spend.
Yet—as can be expected in New York—the media, and even the fans to some extent, tend to focus more on the negatives.
Why did he use the amnesty provision on Billups instead of keeping it for Stoudemire?
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Why did he draft a player who won't even be in the NBA until 2013-14?
How could he just let Jeremy Lin walk?
Well, the answer to all those questions is right in front of us. It all went towards building what is as talented a squad as there is in the Eastern Conference, and one that has the chance to do something special if they gel under Coach Woodson.
This roster isn't perfect by any means but, considering the top-heavy situation he inherited, can you really ask for more?
The talent has been assembled, and eyes should now turn to the players, as it is their job to bring back to New York what fans haven't seen for some 40 years.
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