Two words that mean different things to different people, but when you talk about Knicks president Donnie Walsh the term pretty much describes Walsh to a tee.
Walsh wants to finish the job here, that is no secret, but he would prefer to let his work speak for him, sources say. He doesn't want the talk of his extension being played out in the media.
Walsh is 69, fighting back after two surgeries, and as badly as he wants to finish the Knicks’ rebuilding job, he refuses to raise the issue of his future with ownership. He won’t make his case, won’t plead. The body of work speaks for itself. Or it doesn’t. And whatever deals are being made behind his back, well, Walsh doesn’t play the political game.Unless I'm mistaken there is only one level of basketball operations above Walsh and while Dolan and Thomas have remained in contact, sources confirm, people I've talked to believe it would be impossible to rebuff the horrible PR that would result from Dolan re-hiring Thomas in upper management. So the idea that Isiah will be Donnie's replacement seems overstated.
Several executives and agents believe the Knicks’ hiring of former Denver Nuggets executive Mark Warkentien as a top consultant was made at a level above Walsh. Walsh likes Warkentien, respects his acumen, his talent, but he’s had chances to hire Warkentien in the past and never did. Why now? Well, Warkentien changed representation to CAA – home of dealmaker William Wesley, the famous Worldwide Wes – and clearly Knicks ownership wants to do business with Wes. His agency has Carmelo Anthony(notes) and Chris Paul(notes) as clients, and those are the Knicks’ top targets in the short and long term. How much Wesley can do to deliver those players is much in doubt, except to the fool owners who buy into the belief he can do so all by himself.
Walsh is certainly in the dark as it relates to the extension. All summer Isiah used all of his resources in the media to get back into the picture, and to make sure that Walsh was made aware because Donnie didn't sign off on Zeke's hire. That's an important point. While people say that Dolan is the puppet master he respected Walsh enough not to bring Thomas back into the picture because it would have been at the expense of the man who had cleaned up a mess that Thomas had a heavy hand in creating.
If Dolan is leery of extending Walsh too soon because the job isn't finished yet that's understandable. If he's hesitant because he extended Isiah too soon, that makes sense. It would mean there has been a change in the owner, who defined the term "significant progress" several years back.
There has been significant progress under Walsh, and what the article fails to point out is that this isn't a recruiting mission in need of CAA. It's not about Lebron. Despite several outlets trying to force NJ on Anthony, his top choice has always been the Knicks an idea that is now common knowledge. Can the Knicks and Carmelo come together? That remains to be seen. Maybe the owner is waiting for that to happen.
Again, Walsh is old school and is far from hanging it up. He could easily land an executive job elsewhere or consult for the league, but his mission is to win a ring here and based on the work he's done since 2008 the Knicks are well on their way to being an annual playoff team as their young players develop around Amar'e Stoudemire. Patience wears thin in New York which is why the pressure to bring in Anthony is so great. Making the playoffs is nice, but being an average playoff team won't cut it.
Walsh knows his job isn't finished, and the bottom line is that he would prefer to be fairly evaluated and compensated based on success on the court without the constant talk of his future off of it.