Jimmy Dolan Has Got to Go…
We can all hope, right? The man inherited a media conglomerate (Cablevision) from his father, then began to run the New York Knicks and New York Rangers in unilateral, subversive and constantly meddlesome fashion. Despite both Madison Square Garden tenants having two distinct Championship caliber rosters at some point since 1994 — this, marking the 20th year of the Dolan/Cablevision conglomerate owning the Garden and both teams — the Knicks were coming off an NBA Finals appearance just before the purchase from Gulf & Western/Paramount/Viacom, whateverthefuck, and the Rangers, who were coming off a championship in the NHL in 1994, just before the purchase as well.
Both teams ran through several general managers, coaches, overpaid/washed-up former stars and mismatched teams when they have gotten legitimate stars in their primes. Each time Glen “Slats” Sather has built a championship team for the Rangers, Dolan has forced trades, or mandated shake-ups of coaching staffs. The Knicks made another visit to the NBA Finals in 1999, only for Dolan to force beloved GM Dave Checketts to trade Patrick Ewing against Checketts’ wishes, after the following season.
Watch Rangers’ defenceman Michael Del Zotto be traded this season, despite there being no need to do so.
Once again, in 2011, the Knicks were in prime position to build a contending team. Once again, Dolan came swooping in to “save the day” (by wrecking everything). The Knicks had developed a nice core of role players with SF Wilson Chandler, SF Danilo Gallinari, backup C Timofey Mozgov, and would have been able to retain each of them (and subsequent 1st Round picks in 2012 and 2014), had the Knicks stood pat on their plan to acquired then free-agent-to-be, Carmelo Anthony, from the Denver Nuggets. Anthony had made it clear that he would only sign with the Knicks, thereby erasing any need for the Knicks to trade for Anthony until after the July 9 moratorium ended, and free agent signings would have been official. No team was going to give Denver multiple 1st Round picks (or any, for that matter) for a guy that they knew would not sign anywhere other than in New York. Then-GM Donnie Walsh knew this, and had done a great job filling the roster with players that would have complimented Anthony, and Amare Stoudemire — who had signed with the Knicks the previous summer, once no other team would seek to sign him to a maximum (but uninsured) contract — while developing cohesion and becoming a contending team.
The Knicks, despite all the upheaval, still made the playoffs in 2011. They were a quick exit, because the aforementioned players who were traded, would have served as the depth that the Knicks sorely lacked against the Boston Celtics. To compound matters, the Knicks had to give up two 1st Round picks (in 2012 and 2014), and a 2nd Round pick, to go along with those players. Even worse still, the Knicks were now in a precarious situation with the salary cap, thereby erasing any chance to improve via the NBA Draft OR free agency.
Good work, Jim.
Never mind the health woes of Amare Stoudemire. Never mind the headcase antics of JR Smith (who many people felt the Knicks should have allowed to walk during 2013 free agency). Never mind the coaching changes over the past decade, the Knicks were still in good position heading into the 2013 offseason, if they played their cards right with the only 1st Round pick that they’ll have for most of the decade (selecting G Tim Hardaway, Jr. in 2013, and he has paid dividends). However, Dolan forced out Walsh in favor of Glen Grunwald two years ago.
If you are keeping a tally of how many forced moves that Dolan initiated, that’s six in a decade.
As soon as Grunwald built the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 Knicks — the 2013 team having won 54 games and the Atlantic Division, while advancing further than they had in 12 years in the playoffs — Dolan mysteriously forces a trade for Toronto Raptors’ C Andrea Bargnani. The trade itself was not bad. Bargnani has paid dividends, and is making strides with his new teammates who love him — as do the fans at the Garden and at home — however, the Knicks surrendered yet another 1st Round pick (2016) in the process of unloading regular season thrill/playoff zero Steve Novak and others to the Raptors. Steve Mills, who Knicks fans remember from his 11-year run at MSG previously (including being Garden President while the Anucha Browne-Sanders/Isiah Thomas spat ran its course, along with the worst six-year stretch in team history — all under Thomas), returned to the Knicks as GM. Who even knows what this means. However, one common denominator exists: everyone from Anthony, Bargnani to Smith to Coach Mike Woodson, to Chris Smith (who is the brother of JR Smith, and whose roster spot is 100% a product of nepotism, thereby showing a new level of retardation and dysfunction at Madison Square Garden), to Mills, Allan Houston and a few other members within the Knicks’ organization are represented by Creative Artists Agency. I am not certain what this means, but the fact remains. Then again, CAA dominates sports and entertainment with their representation. It seems like they call all the shots with the Knicks. It’s almost as if the team is spellbound.
One thing is for certain with this current mismatched amalgamation of slag that is currently 3-9 on the season at the time of this pressing — this is Dolan’s creation, and this is the team that Dolan “expects to win an NBA Title.”
Jimmy, you had that — with a few tweaks such as acquiring Bargnani without giving up a pick and smartly drafting Hardaway, and instead of giving the money that you gave to Pablo Prigioni to scoring maven, Chris Copeland — who is rotting away on the bench of the Indiana Pacers, who themselves only signed him to weaken the conference rival Knicks, with no desire to actually play him. This team will be lucky to even win a playoff series. And all because Dolan continues to force moves at the worst possible time, all mortgaging the Knicks’ short-term and long-term viability as a contender.
And let’s not even begin talking about the Rangers, who have had a Stanley Cup contending team for three years, and continue to underachieve for the 16th straight season, despite having nothing but (former) great player after great player, bloated contract after bloated contract.
The only thing Knicks and Rangers fans are grateful for with Dolan is that he has never been averse to spending money. We’d like that to continue, but making sure it is spent on the right guys, while Dolan stays out of the way and allows his GMs to do their job. He meddled with Checketts, Ernie Grunfeld (but let Scott Layden systematically ruin this team without impediment, and Isiah Thomas even MORE SO???), Walsh — who cleaned up Layden and Thomas’ colossal disasters — and now Grunfeld, while running through a half dozen head coaches since Jeff Van Gundy had enough of Dolan’s nonsense and abruptly quit nearly 12 years ago today.
You have to wonder if Mike Woodson wouldn’t be RELIEVED if he is well… RELIEVED of his duties (and made to be the scapegoat) of all that ails the Knicks…
… which is squarely and unequivocally James L. Dolan.