Is Donnie Walsh really a genius? Has he really done a better job than Isiah?

It looks like Donnie Walsh will be coming back, though no contract is signed, but Walsh is proceeding like he is coming back. It is amazing that Dolan hasn’t finalized that contract but Dolan is a disaster and has the opposite of the midas touch so why should this be any different. The question I have is whether Donnie Walsh deserves to come back. I get that he is a great basketball mind but no one seems to question the job he has done here. Every commentator seems to have drawn the same conclusion that Walsh has done an amazing job in clearing the Knicks of all their bad contracts and in getting Carmelo and Amare here, and he deserves another season. To question the idea that the Knicks were a complete disaster when he came over is like questioning the gospel.

Do I think Donnie should come back? No. Do I think he has done a great job? No. What commentators should be asking is whether the Knicks won more games because they had Walsh and whether they now have a brighter future because they have Walsh. I am not advocating the return of Isiah (I cringe at that thought) and I am not really arguing that Isiah would have done better than Walsh. What I am going to argue is that the direction Walsh took this team in was poorly thought out and unsuccessful. While I am not going to go over every move Walsh has made, here are some points to ponder (to be fair it is easier to question moves in hindsight):

  • The team right now is Carmelo and Amare and not much else. There is an extremely thin bench, no 7 footers, a placeholder at PG and a coach who doesn’t know how to coach defense.
  • The team’s direction now seems to be to scrap next season and hope to compete in 2012-13 with the addition of Paul, Deron or Howard. This team they will hopefully build will likely have 3 great players and zero depth.
  • Did Walsh really not know Deron Williams was available? I would trade one of our big two for Deron Williams in a heartbeat.
  • When Walsh got here the team had Zach Randolph and Jamal Crawford. Both those players are playing very well and their teams are still in the playoffs. The Knicks would love to get Randolph back, he would be a tremendous addition. Crawford would be as well. Are Amare and Carmelo so much better than Randolph and Crawford it was worth gutting the team to get them? Wouldn’t a more balanced team with Randolph and Crawford be better?
  • Did we get real value for Randolph and Crawford or even David Lee? We dumped some fairly good players and have nothing to show.
  • Add to the Randolph and Crawford team some names like David Lee, Channing Frye, Wilson Chandler, Danilo Galinari. We still need a point guard but this team is suddenly looking pretty decent. Maybe some of the draft picks would have been different and maybe we would have kept more of our draft picks going forward. Would this team have a worse future than the current squad?
  • Walsh gets a ton of credit for getting rid of some bad contracts like Stephon Marbury, Jerome James, Eddie Curry, Jared Jeffries. Well he just let Marbury’s contract expire, not exactly a genius decision, and trading Curry two months before his contract isn’t masterful work. Great, we got rid of Jerome James and we still have Jared Jeffries, though with a better contract.
  • The purpose of clearing all the cap space was not to get Amare nor Carmelo. The purpose was to bring Lebron or Wade here. That was the goal and he did not succeed in that goal. He is building a poor man’s Miami Heat which is not what the plan was when he got here.

I want a GM who builds more through the draft and modest acquisitions. Signing one superstar makes sense but you have to build a balanced team around them. Or, if you are just going to get superstars well you better be getting truly amazing players like the Heat did (I hate the Heatles).

Download Episode 63

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2 thoughts on “Is Donnie Walsh really a genius? Has he really done a better job than Isiah?

  1. Hey guys,

    Love the podcast, but I think you are a little harsh on Walsh for a number of reasons. If Lebron had signed in the summer of 2010, then all the cap clearing moves would have been worth it. Unfortunately, Lebron went elsewhere. What did you want Walsh to do? Not make a play for Lebron? Was that your position two years ago. You also blame Walsh for trading Z-Bo and Crawford as if he could predict three years into the future that they would be incredible. Give him a break.

    Fred Jones started 26 games for the team that Donnie Walsh inherited. If you had told me on April 2, 2008 that in less than three years the Knicks would have Chauncey Billups ( and his expiring $14 million contract) AND Amar’e Stoudemire AND Carmelo Anthony, I would have been ecstatic. I’m not sure there would be a price the Knicks could pay that would make it not worth it.

    Anyway, keep up the great work. I live in Maine and can’t get enough of your podcasts. Even my wife, the Celts fan, thinks you guys are great.

  2. Fair points. I guess I am just disputing the strategy of going all in for Lebron. It looks like Walsh is coming back so I just hope he has a plan beyond let’s get a third superstar and pray.

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