NEW YORK – James Dolan’s reluctance to pick up Donnie Walsh’s $5 million option for next season the moment the Knicks qualified for the playoffs says it all about where this shadowy situation is headed.
Instead of earning as little as that requisite reward – though a multi-year extension offer certainly wouldn’t have be unreasonable – from his boss, the person most responsible for reviving the franchise’s relevance got the silent treatment and the cold shoulder, at least for public consumption.
I’m sure (well, maybe) Dolan thanked Walsh for reversing the depressing talk of the town within three years of becoming Knicks president. But not doing something definitive cheapened the accomplishment.
Instead of showering Walsh with love, Dolan has doused him with disrespect … regardless of how things may turn out in the end. Who knows, should the Knicks make a second-round indentation or beyond it would be next to impossible, even for someone as arrogant and obdurate as Dolan, not to allow Walsh to finish what he started three seasons ago.
Yet, at this point in time, the smart money is betting parting gifts already have been picked out that will compensate Walsh suitably for having his authority usurped on a regular basis, enduring the indignity of almost being force-fed Isiah Thomas as GM, and theoretically keeping his lips sealed for x amount of years.
Time to go to your pocket or purse and start fingering your rosary beads to help Walsh pray a valuable package is looming. Because, really, if not for the millions, who needs to have Thomas lurking in every Garden cubbyhole, nook and cranny?
Then again, when the obvious becomes obvious to one and all, it’s often wise to go the other way to see if there’s someone significantly obscure (or not) hiding in the suns’ glare.
Thomas might want to down a Lunesta before reading further.
Mike D’Antoni, too.
According to a team executive, who knows a thing or two about a thing or two regarding goings-on behind the screens, Dolan may have eyes for Kentucky’s John Calipari … to run the front office and coach.
Do I have confirmation on this?
I unsuccessfully reached out to Calipari and left a message why I was calling.
Does it make sense?
Yes, especially in view of Dolan’s disinclination to do right by Walsh.
We’re talking about a marquee (there’s that word again) college coach fresh from another Final Four, who owns pro experience (some of it good with the Nets), is an outstanding recruiter (though NBA’s salary cap may limit impact) and relates remarkably well with young black players.
What’s more, Calipari is represented by William (World Wide) Wesley who works for Creative Artists Agency, Hollywood’s most powerful entertainment agency.
One of its many patrons is Chris Paul, who figures to be on the market within a matter of months. Wes also reps Mark Warkentien, current temporary Knicks West Coast scout and former Nuggets’ VP. It’s believed felt he would caddy for Cal in the office.
Last year at this time, fictitious reports surfaced that Wesley was shopping Calipari and LeBron James, another CAA client, as a package to the Bulls. Reporters assume Wesley has the juice to pull something like that off. He doesn’t and he didn’t.
CAA, on the other hand, does … and the Garden, looking to load up on its concert talent and collaborate on other ventures, appears to be building a binding relationship. Whether Calipari is part of those weighty dealings is strictly conjecture…so far.
While on the subject of prospective goings and comings, the coaching carousel is in danger of developing some airliner type cracks from overuse over the next 16 weeks.
Fifteen almost assuredly will be back with their current team – Gregg Popovich, George Karl, Nate McMillan, Doug Collins, Tom Thibodeau, Scott Skiles, Lionel Hollins, Avery Johnson, Scott Brooks, Paul Silas, Monty Williams, Byron Scott, Alvin Gentry, Vinny Del Negro and Ty Corbin.
The remaining half have given notice (Phil Jackson), are on unspoken notice should their teams fail to meet expectations, or are in jeopardy to be served evictions notices.
Virtually guaranteed to go are Pistons’ John Kuester, Timberwolves’ Kurt Rambis, Hawks’ Larry Drew (unless team pulls a first-round upset and even then I see it), Pacers Frank Vogel (same-same), Warriors’ Keith Smart, Wizards’ Flip Saunders and Raptors’ Jay Triano, particularly if Bryan Colangelo doesn’t get a new deal … and maybe even if he does despite adhering to agreed-upon plan by those in charge to play almost exclusively young.
Paul Westphal, not that he deserves to be fired, might have saved his Kings (Royals?) job by winning some games the last couple of weeks, Fact is, he ought to get a raise for having to put up every day with DeMarcus Cousins’ antics, said to be way worse than advertised.
We’ve already mentioned D’Antoni’s uncertain circumstances. Rising free agent Rick Adelman, in spite of a superlative showing minus Yao Ming, is giving no indication he wants back with the Rockets.
Your guess is as good as mine regarding what happens to Erik Spoelstra (Heat), Stan Van Gundy (Magic), and Rick Carlisle (Mavericks) should their respective teams distribute playoff shares in April, early May or even later in the month.
Peter Vecsey covers the NBA for the New York Post.