After 21 years as General Manager of the Indiana Pacers, Donnie Walsh felt he needed a new challenge after leading the team to the playoffs in 17 of 18 years.
The new challenge he chose was taking over the New York Knicks.
Walsh has come in and has transformed the entire culture of the Knicks. He said from the beginning he was looking to clear salary for the summer of 2010 when Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, and a whole lot of superstars become free agents. He fired Isaiah Thomas and hired offensive guru Mike D'antoni and drafted the raw Danilo Gallinari, who has star potential, out of Italy.
Walsh has since done a fantastic job as president of the Knicks.
He has been patient with this group of players he inherited. He banished star guard Stephon Marbury, traded away the Knicks two best offensive scorers—Jamal Crawford and Zach Randolph—for Al Harrington, Cuttino Mobley and Tim Thomas, so the team could be competitive and have salary space to land a premier free agent in 2010.
While Mobley was forced to retire due to a heart ailment, Al Harrington has played like an All-Sta,r averaging 20 points and 6.5 rebounds, while Tim Thomas has proved to be an integral part of the Knicks bench.
Just when we thought Walsh was done wheeling and dealing for the year, he shows us how savvy he truly is. Today, just before the NBA Trade Deadline at 3 P.M, Walsh acquired shooting guard Larry Hughes from the Chicago Bulls in exchange for Tim Thomas, Jerome James, and Anthony Roberson. In a separate deal, Walsh landed power forward Chris Wilcox for Malik Rose.
By making these trades, Walsh has solidified the chances of not just making the playoffs, but possibly even making some noise in the playoffs. I said earlier in the week the Knicks needed to acquire a guard or a defensive minded front court player.
Walsh did both.
Hughes was disgruntled all year with his limited role in Chicago's crowded back-court. He gives the Knicks a very solid shooting guard who can score the ball and play defense, which they've been lacking since the trade of Jamal Crawford.
Wilcox, who was very close to being drafted by the Knicks, will provide the Knicks with some toughness up front. Wilcox doesn't really have jump shot, but he rebounds the ball and can score on put-backs.
Walsh has proven, yet again, that patience pays off. He has resurrected a depleted Knicks team and turned them into a playoff contender, and has made his team better by protecting their ultimate goal of cap room for the summer of 2010.
If the Knicks make the playoffs, Donnie Walsh deserves his long over-due Executive of the Year Award, and when the summer of 2010 rolls around, Walsh has all-but guaranteed a good team turning into a great team.
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