Knicks' prez takes D'Antoni off hook for team's struggles
A feisty Donnie Walsh said it’s his fault the club is not winning, not
Mike D’Antoni’s, and said he has no regrets about embarking two years
ago on this cap-clearing plan that gutted the roster.
The Knicks president also cautioned that he never promised he will hit
a home run this summer during free agency, that the process could take
longer to build a title contender. Walsh gave no indication D’Antoni’s
job is in danger or that he was disappointed in him.
"I already know Mike’s a good coach," Walsh said before the Knicks awoke last night to slam the awful Pistons, 128-104, at the Garden behind Tracy McGrady’s 21-point, 8-assist, 7-rebound outing. "And I’m taking the responsibility for these two seasons and I did it the first day I got here. I didn’t see how you could improve this franchise by making trades or building through the draft over a long period of time. So I looked for us to get under the cap."
After the latest round of cap-clearing trades Feb. 18, D’Antoni and Walsh have been under fire as the Knicks have become an inferior product, with last night’s aberrational victory putting their record at 21-39.
"Mike’s my coach," Walsh said, sitting in the front row, behind the Knicks bench before tip-off. "I have more responsibility for whatever you guys are writing about than he does. I should be the guy looked at.
"If that doesn’t work right away, I would continue to try to do it," Walsh said. "Or if I’m not the guy, I’ll leave. I don’t know how any other ways to say it. I don’t think I’ve put Mike in a situation that he should be winning."
Walsh also said that even if they don’t land the big fish — LeBron James or Dwyane Wade — this summer, it does not mean the plan was wrong — or over.
"I didn’t say (in) one summer we’re going to turn around and become a championship team," Walsh said. "And I’m not asking for time. I won’t have that much time. I know one thing. Now at least we have a flexible position, whether it’s next summer or the summer after to start adding players to this team that can head you in that direction."
Asked if he was confident he will get that big marquee name in July, Walsh said, "You’re never confident. Because you can’t talk to anybody. There’s no written agreements. I said the best way to get this team back and, to rebuild it, is to do it through free agency and managing the cap."
Walsh has put the Knicks nearly $32 million under the cap — enough to sign two maximum free agents. But with speculation growing James won’t leave the championship-contending Cavs, there have been skeptics on whether Walsh’s plan was flawed from the start.