For weeks now, the extension of Knicks team president Donnie Walsh’s contract has been presumed to be a formality. After all, the Knicks spent ten years punching themselves and their fans in the face until Walsh, the grown-up in the room, came in and fixed everything, freeing the franchise from salary-cap hell and ultimately bringing in two top-ten superstars in Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony. Obviously he’d be back. Obviously. Obviously. Obvi … oh sweet God no.
Yep: The Knicks just announced that Walsh will be leaving the Knicks when his contract expires at the end of the month. The chilling press release from Jim Dolan hit e-mail boxes at 11:17 a.m.
“Following a long series of discussions regarding his future role with the New York Knicks, Donnie Walsh and I have mutually agreed that he will be leaving his position as president, basketball operations of the Knicks at the end of June. Donnie will remain with the team as a consultant for the 2011-12 season. In a relatively short time with the Knicks, Donnie made a tremendous impact, which will be felt for many years to come. We thank Donnie for his leadership, hard work and many contributions to the revitalization of the team.
“We will now begin an immediate search for a new president and general manager, but do not have a timetable for the decision. Glen Grunwald, the Knicks’ senior vice president, basketball operations, will serve as interim general manager beginning in July, overseeing all player transactions. With some of the NBA’s premier players, an outstanding coach and one of the league’s most passionate and loyal fanbases, we are extremely confident about the future of the Knicks franchise.”
So, so much to unpack here. Was this in the plans all along? What does this mean for Mike D’Antoni? (It would have to mean bad things, we’d think.) Weren’t the Knicks going to stay quiet about this until the NBA Finals were over? What happened? Are we sure we’re comfortable with a lame-duck Glen Grunwald making Knicks’ first-round draft picks? Is Walsh okay? What in the world is going on?
And, lurking in the shadows, Iago whispering in Dolan’s ear, waiting for his precious to be returned to him, is every Knicks’ nightmare bogeyman … Isiah Thomas. [Shiver.]
Look out, folks: The Knicks’ summer just got a lot more terrifying. We’ll have more later today, after the 1:30 teleconference the Knicks have scheduled with Walsh. But for now: If you believe in God, pray for the Knicks. If you don’t, it might be time to start.