Mike D'Antoni Hiring: Is Donnie Walsh Repeating Isiah's Mistakes?

Jake LangbeckerCorrespondent IMay 10, 2008

    When Isiah Thomas became President of Basketball Operations for the Knicks in December 2003, he brought with him some excitement to a city that had been drained by Scott Layden.

    Isiah Thomas' first move to try and rejuvenate the Knicks' fan base was by bringing home the prodigal son of New York, Stephon Marbury, from the desert in Phoenix. Well, everyone is aware how that move and a series of other moves helped ruin the Knicks.

    After 4 1/2 years of abysmal basketball, including a 23-59 record as coach last season, it was clear Isiah's days were numbered.

    When the ax finally fell, James Dolan and the Knicks faithful put the franchise in the hands of Donnie Walsh. He is renowned as a good GM with a good basketball mind, although considering how the Pacers have performed recently and the current state of their roster, that's hard to believe.

    Donnie Walsh's first task as President was to find a new coach. After weeks of speculation that Mark Jackson all but had the job. Walsh decided to sign former Phoenix Suns coach Mike D'Antoni. There are four years and 24 million reasons why D'Antoni would be willing to take on this reformation project.

     D'Antoni undoubtedly brings a winning attitude with him after very successful regular seasons with the Suns, although those seasons ended with short playoff runs. One can't help but wonder about whether D'Antoni's up-tempo style can mesh with this Knicks roster. The team has a few players (Nate Robinson, Jamal Crawford, Renaldo Balkman, Wilson Chandler and David Lee), who all could fit into a D'Antoni style offense. 

    So is Walsh making the same mistakes Isiah was? Turning to the desert for answers, trying to force big names to fit in a situation where they don't really belong? It is a decision that can't be made until D'Antoni's run is over.

   The Knicks will be able to shed the likes of Curry, Randolph, and Marbury over the span of D'Antoni's contract. However, this move could stunt the growth of the team, much like Larry Brown's one-year term as coach.