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How will Donnie Walsh’s departure affect the Knicks?

The New York Knicks, awful for so long, have just begun on the path back to responsibility, and what do they do – get rid of Donnie Walsh. The man behind getting rid of all the bad contracts and dealing with the aftermath of the Isiah reign is gone. But what does this mean for the Knicks?

Donnie Walsh has gone because he reportedly couldn’t come to agreements over his future with the team. The president of basketball operations faced off with owner James Dolan and lost the battle. Walsh wanted total control over trades and team affairs, Dolan said no. Walsh wanted a shorter deal, Dolan wanted him to stay on for longer. The list goes on.

Donnie Walsh was the man responsible for reversing all the bad deals of the Isiah Thomas reign as Knicks president, and had to cut the bloated payroll of the team, with several players on “franchise-crippling” contracts – the likes of Jerome James, Jared Jeffries, Stephon Marbury and Zach Randolph were all traded. In two years, Walsh was able to clear cap space to sign free agent Amar’e Stoudemire to a max-$100m deal, add Carmelo Anthony this year and the Knicks have a future.

Part of the reason Walsh wanted more control was because he was upset over the Melo trade in February. Walsh wanted to wait until the summer when Carmelo was a free agent, Dolan didn’t – and sent basically the whole team over to Denver for Melo and Chauncey Billups.

After Walsh’s departure, what does the future hold for the Knicks? I’m not going to speculate on their next GM, but look at the Knicks’ potential over the next few years.

The Knicks have two superstars in Melo and Amar’e, Billups is a solid contributor and has one year left on his deal. The ultimate dream for the Knicks: get a top free agent in 2012 and pair either Dwight Howard or Chris Paul to create a New York Big Three.

The problem with the Knicks though, and one which will definitely hinder them in the playoffs against the likes of the Heat, Celtics, Magic, Bulls and even the Hawks, is their lack of defence. Mike D’Antoni is not a defensive coach, and it’s well known defence wins championships.

A Dwight Howard next to Stoudemire would work, to combat Amar’e’s complete lack of defense and allergy to rebounding, but sign a max-level free agent and the Knicks have no money to do anything else. What they need is a team, a center who can protect the paint and rebound, a PG to replace Billups in a year’s time, a few defensive wings would be a good addition. Basically, a whole team apart from Anthony and Stoudemire.

Tyson Chandler would be nice at center, but he’s going to cost quite a bit and would require a multi-year deal, which would upset the Knicks’ chances to get a premier free agent in 2012.

As long as the new GM of New York can follow in Walsh’s footsteps and continue to build a team around their two superstars, then the Knicks can challenge the Heat and Bulls for supremacy in the East. If Isiah comes back and signs the likes of Adam Morrison, Yi Jianlian and Mike Bibby to huge multi-year deals, then that’s three years completely wasted.

What do you think of Donnie Walsh’s departure from the Knicks? Let me know and comment below…

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