The New York Knicks have just one playoff series win this century and, by season’s end, will have finished with a winning record just two times in the last 16 years.
Many Knicks fans blame James Dolan for this.
“Mr. Dolan is desperate to try to find a way to win at the Garden,” former Knicks general manager Glen Grunwald said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “I thought when I was there as GM, sort of finishing the work that Donnie Walsh had started, that we were making good progress, but he wasn’t happy obviously because he fired me after a 54-win season. I can’t say that I have a good understanding of Mr. Dolan and why he does some things that he does. I do know he’s desperate to win, and it’s almost as if he can’t get out of his own way.”
Dolan tried to remedy that by bringing in Phil Jackson. That hasn’t worked.
“He’s given Phil Jackson full control and authority and that hasn’t gone particularly well yet, but it’s a very strange situation at the Garden sometimes,” Grunwald said. “Someone showed me an article from 1961, I think, that talked about the Knicks and the troubles they were having, and it sounded very similar to the issues that they’re having today. Maybe it’s New York. Maybe it’s the ghosts of Madison Square Garden. I don’t know, but it has been a very difficult situation there. Mr. Dolan’s record speaks for itself, I guess.”
One must wonder if Dolan regrets firing Grunwald after a 54-win season. That remains the Knicks’ best season since 1996-97, when they went 57-25 with Jeff Van Gundy and Patrick Ewing.
“When Donnie was in charge, (Dolan) was somewhat involved,” Grunwald said. “He gave a fair bit of leeway to Donnie Walsh, and then when I was there, he sort of wanted to be the GM, so basically all of the decisions had to run through him. I do think that Phil has been given full control of how to operate things, although I’m obviously not there day-to-day.”
Regardless of who’s in charge, the Knicks need to pick a path – and stick with it.
“I think strategically, they need to focus in terms of what they’re going to do,” Grunwald said. “When I was there, Mr. Dolan’s directive was to try and win a championship as soon as possible. That’s reflected in the moves that we made. I thought we had a slim chance in 2013 when we won the 54 games and Tyson Chandler was hurt and Jason Kidd had sort of the wheels fall off finally in his great career. He started out great but was struggling at the end of the year. That was what we were doing. When Phil came in, I thought the decision to resign Carmelo indicated that they were going down the same road – trying to win a championship as soon as possible. And now obviously it looks like, based upon some of the tweets from Phil, that they’re looking to go back to sort of a rebuilding situation. I think they need to pick a stagey and stick with it, and it’s time probably to look at a longer-term rebuild through the draft and young players.”