Carmelo Anthony Trade Aftermath: Donnie Walsh and Mike D'Antoni on Borrowed Time

Tom LianosContributor IIIFebruary 22, 2011

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Nine whole months. That's it. 

The road map that was laid out by GM Donnie Walsh and implemented by coach Mike D'Antoni lasted all of nine months. 

Prior to the trade, the Knicks were an average, but entertaining team, capable of the occasional victory over an elite team, but just as likely to lose to the bottom of the league. 

What this team had in its favor was a young roster and a well-managed salary cap.  The team also had hope for a better future as long as it stuck to the plan and did not go after the quick fix. 

The quick fix is in. 

The long-term direction of the team is no longer in the hands of a professional talent evaluator and team builder. The long-term direction of the team is now in the hands of team owner James Dolan and his consigliere Isiah Thomas. 

The trade to acquire Carmelo Anthony is easy to defend.  Anthony is a top-20 talent and one of the top three offensive players in the league.  The price paid will not be considered steep as long as the Knicks remain relevant and contend for the title. 

My issue with the trade is that it illustrates two views of how to negotiate.  When Walsh was leading the trade talks, the Knicks had the appearance of leverage.  With Dolan leading the talks, the Nuggets had all the leverage.  In a game of high-stakes poker, Dolan showed his hand. 

For Walsh, the writing is on the wall.  It has been rumored for weeks that Dolan had no intention of exercising the club option to extend his GM for another year.  With Dolan orchestrating this trade, this is all but a certainty.

The honeymoon period with Carmelo Anthony will last until the Knicks' eventual first-round ouster at the hands of the Bulls, Celtics, Heat or Magic.  If the Knicks are swept out of the first round, D'Antoni is assuredly fired with just one year left to go on his contract. 

If the Knicks are competitive and the Carmelo/Stoudemire frontcourt proves effective in the "Seven Seconds or Less" offense, D'Antoni may have a stay of execution until the first losing streak in the 2011-12 season. 

By the end of next season, the Knicks will have a new GM and a new coach.  What you won't get is a "fresh perspective" no matter what Dolan tries to sell.  It is simply the return to the mismanagement and personal embarrassment of the last decade. 

You know who is happy about this turn of events?  The New York Mets and the Wilpons.  They won't be the only clueless organization in New York City.