After an abysmal performance last year, the New York Knicks look to start a new era of successful professional New York basketball.
So far, there has only been success with the Knicks this offseason. First, former head coach Isiah Thomas was finally fired, after years of below-average basketball and terrible transactions. It was thought that Thomas essentially crippled the New York Knicks after the five years under his rule, but that is mistaken.
Once the Knicks were rid of Thomas, the next step was to select a head of basketball operations. After days of speculation by the media, the Knicks finally announced on April 2, 2008 that the new president of basketball operations was going to be Donnie Walsh.
This was not a surprise to many Knicks enthusiasts, since Walsh has expressed some interest in making the Knicks his project for the next couple years. This is exactly when Donnie Walsh took complete control of the Knicks' reins.
The next step towards a successful future was the selection of a new head coach to fill the void left by Thomas. There were many viable candidates for this position, including former great Knick point guard Mark Jackson, but ultimately Donnie Walsh decided that the man to lead his team to victory would be none other than Mike D’Antoni, former head coach of the Phoenix Suns.
This was very controversial, because many analysts agreed that D’Antoni is an offensive-oriented coach, unable to impart the defense teachings that the untamed Knicks players needed. But this choice was the correct choice, because Mike D’Antoni’s fast-paced offense seems to trigger more intense defense on the other end of the court.
Howeverm this was not Donnie Walsh’s final product.
After openly admitting that Stephon Marbury was not the point guard D’Antoni needed, Walsh scoured the free-agent market and stumbled on Chris Duhon, formerly the starting point guard for the Chicago Bulls. Duhon has the ability to keep up with a fast-paced offense, and is a pass-first, shoot-second point guard—unlike Marbury. On top of Duhon’s offensive prowess, he is also known as an exceptional defender, something that is essential in such a strong Atlantic Division and something that the Knicks have lacked.
Along with the addition of Chris Duhon, Donnie Walsh drafted Danillo Gallinari with the sixth-overall pick. Gallinari was an extremely controversial pick, because not much is known about the 19-year-old Italian. Previously, Gallinari played for teams in Milan and Pavia, Italy. What basketball fans do know about the 6'10" forward is the he has a very smooth jump shot, and is the epitome of a European big man.
With these two transactions as the only huge additions made by the team, the Knicks are relying not only on the new guys, but also on the old guys. Ironically, the same basketball players that Isaah Thomas could only win twenty games with seem to be producing for Coach Mike D’Antoni.
Some of these "old" guys include David Lee, Zach Randolph, Jamal Crawford, and Nate Robinson. Many of these players are going to be relied upon to carry the team and help Donnie Walsh usher in a new era of New York Knicks basketball.
Overall, Walsh seems to have done a great job. He has made great decisions on coaching and player signings. Additionally, Walsh has not made spontaneous decisions regarding trades or buyouts. He realizes that the Knicks will not become a great team overnight. Instead, he understands that the next few years in New York will be transition years to wait out hefty contracts and scour a more highly regarded free-agent class.
If the Knicks do become successful, Donnie Walsh deserves unanimous praise, considering the conditions he had to overcome. Under Walsh’s, rule the Knicks have entered somewhat of a basketball renaissance—but only time will tell whether he has truly made the correct decisions.