The New York Knicks, on the verge of training camp opening up next week, have made yet another change to the organization. The move has an impact on the whole organization but is not directly related to the roster as it was not a player being replaced; instead General Manger Glen Grunwald was replaced as GM and reassigned to an adviser role. Grunwald, who had been GM of the Knicks for the last two seasons, will be replaced by Steve Mills.
Hold on one second, that can’t be, no please don’t tell me; yes, that is the same Steve Mills who previously worked with the Knicks for 10 years as president and GM and hired Isiah Thomas. Thomas, who might be the only person unanimously disliked by the whole Knicks fan base, oversaw one of the least, if not the least successful stretch in Knicks franchise history. Nothing positive came out of the Mills tenure the first time around so it is fair that Knick fans are already becoming leery and nervous heading into a season that some people had high hopes for just a few days ago.
Mills was demoted by the Knicks in 2008, the same time Thomas was fired and the Knicks finally started turning things around and looking like a real NBA organization once again. Mills of course was happy to be named the new GM and President of the Knicks, saying, “It is an honor and a privilege to work for such a storied franchise, and I look forward to doing whatever it takes to make the Knicks a successful franchise and a team that fans can be proud of, both now and in the future.”
It is an honor and privilege because for someone who screwed up so royally the first time around has to be even a little shocked he would get a second chance with the same team, but hey, this is the Knicks and with James Dolan running the show nothing should come as a surprise anymore. The only thing that has become accustomed in New York is that when things start looking bright Dolan will be there to close the blinds and make it look dim again. Mills is not qualified for this job and has already shown that once; he would never have received a position like this for any other franchise in the NBA.
The only positive to this is that Allan Houston looks to be in a position to be groomed to take over the GM and President spot sooner rather than later. Houston has been perfecting his craft overseeing the Knicks NBDL affiliate the Erie BayHawks. Also, it may cause head coach Mike Woodson to change some of his ways. We all are aware of the trigger finger Dolan possesses and firing Woodson does not seem out of the realm of possibility if the Knicks do not progress further in the postseason this year. This all becomes more likely because one of the biggest Woodson backers was Grunwald, who now as very little if any say in what goes on behind the scenes with the Knicks.
This is a move that is shocking and surprising on a lot of levels as Grunwald oversaw the most successful Knicks team in over a decade. 54 wins and an appearance in the second round was not enough for Grunwald to keep his job, even though the Knicks improved in both seasons under his watch. One person who was very vocal about Grunwald’s ouster was Rick Kaplan, the agent for former Knicks Center Marcus Camby.
“Glen’s firing is absurd and the timing is cruel. Here is a guy that remarkably created a winning atmosphere in one of the most toxic NBA environments today,” Kaplan said in an e-mail to ESPNNewyork.com. “He did everything he was asked to do by his owner, and did it with a smile on his face. The only good news is that some lucky team will have Glen fall in its lap and he can finally work for a team that appreciates his enormous talent and class.
Kaplan was also quoted saying how well Grunwald went about delivering the news that his client Camby had been traded to the Raptors, lauding the professionalism he showed for such a tough situation. It is hard to root against for people who leave the Knicks organization but I share some of the same sentiment as Kaplan and look forward to Grunwald getting a job somewhere else and succeeding with it. You have to think one of the biggest threats currently to the Knicks in the Eastern Conference in the Indiana Pacers would not be where they are now had the Knicks not treated Donnie Walsh with the same lack of class they have shown Grunwald.
Dolan continues to show that he is making a mockery of the Knicks as winning and productive basketball does not look to be on the top of his agenda for running a team. He cares solely about making money so if he can generate enough news worthy headlines and drama amongst the team to get people in the seats he will be happy. It is hard enough to win in a place with as much pressure as New York but when you know your owner will not fully back you unless you do everything he wants and says it makes it that much tougher to bring in quality people with great thinking minds. It is a sad truth for Knicks fans that they care more about their team’s success than the owner does. I will continue dreaming at night of what a team in the market as the Knicks would do with an owner who cares as much as Mark Cuban or as smart in building a good product as Peter Holt.