The last time I spoke to Glen Grunwald in person, we exchanged pleasantries at Madison Square Garden — and I teased him about not speaking to the media on a regular basis. I even made the point that he had hurt his candidacy for Executive of the Year by being unavailable to the press corps when the ‘Bockers were off to their sizzling start.
Grunwald chuckled at the remark, smirked and shook his head from side to side. He understood my reasoning, and I’m certain he didn’t understand his organization’s lack of reasoning. Probably had something to do with Donnie Walsh doing things his own way and holding court with the press before nearly every home game. The control freaks at MSG hated Walsh for that.
When you work under James Dolan, the media is the enemy. It has been that way for many, many years, and the institutionalized paranoia regarding the fourth estate is off the charts. Dolan himself hasn’t spoken with the team’s beat writers for six years – something he used to do once each season, usually on a West Coast road trip.
So it was no surprise that nobody saw the surprise of the day coming – Steve Mills being re-hired by the organization, with Grunwald being demoted to advisor. And you can bet your bottom dollar that Grunwald will continue to clam up until he sees his last paycheck – and maybe even longer. When Scott Layden stepped down as GM of the Knicks, he gave Dolan his word that he would never talk about publicly about his time in New York – and Layden has kept his promise to this day.
Anyway, now that the Grunwald era is over, it is worth taking a look back at the moves he made over the past two years since replacing Walsh. There were a ton of them.
And we will grade each of those moves on a pass/fail basis.
None of these recent moves (except one) gets a grade, because it is too soon to pass judgment on the majority of them.
Acquired F Andrea Bargnani from the Toronto Raptors for Steve Novak, Quentin Richardson, Marcus Camby, a first-round pick in 2016 (the worse of Denver’s or New York’s) and two second-round picks. Grade: FAIL. Bargnani is one of the worst defensive players in the league, was booed in Toronto stronger than anyone not named Vince Carter and was on the trading block for two years. New Toronto GM Masai Ujiri absolutely fleeced New York on this one, to an astonishing degree – especially when considering what the Knicks gave up to get Camby, who never took his warmups off during the 2013 playoffs. (More on this subject in this column).
Drafted G Tim Hardaway Jr. with the No. 24 overall pick. Grade: INCOMPLETE. He looked good in summer league before spraining his wrist.
Signed C Jeremy Tyler to a multi-year, partially guaranteed contract. Grade: INCOMPLETE. Out until mid-November after undergoing surgery for a stress fracture in his foot.
Re-signed F Kenyon Martin. GRADE: INCOMPLETE: If Martin gives the Knicks what he gave them last season, this was a great move. But this season is not last season, and the power forward spot is crowded. Will likely be Tyson Chandler’s undersized backup at center (which ain’t gonna get it done against Indiana).
Signed free agent F Metta World Peace. Grade: INCOMPLETE. Will drive the team’s media relations staff nuts, guaranteed. Uncertain if he has much left in the tank.
Re-signed free agent guard J.R. Smith. Grade: INCOMPLETE. Never a bad thing when you re-sign the reigning Sixth Man of the Year when he could have gotten more on the open market. But it’s too bad the guy has a ganja habit that will lead to a five-game suspension when he is medically cleared to play. Still holder of Best Tweet Ever title.
Re-signed free agent guard Pablo Prigioni. Grade: INCOMPLETE. Better to keep him than to lose him, especially since Mike “Hot Seat” Woodson seems to prefer the aging Argentine over Raymond Felton.
Signed undrafted rookie PF C.J. Leslie. Grade INCOMPLETE: Hard to see where they will find playing time for his behind Amar’e Stoudemire, Kenyon Martin and Andrea Bargnani – all of whom figure to come off the bench.
Signed C Earl Barron. When all is said and done, the “Barron of Broadway” will appear in 100 times more Knicks-related Tweets than Knicks games. Grade: FAIL.
Signed G Quentin Richardson. This signing was important only because it gave the Knicks the right to sign-and-trade Q-Rich in the Bargnani deal. Richardson, who shot 1-for-11 in his only appearance last season for New York, got a “magic envelope” of $1.4 million, inspiring him to tweet: “GOD is so AWESOME.” Grade: FAIL (because it helped get Bargnani).
Signed F Kenyon Martin. One of Grunwald’s best moves, as it gave the Knicks a solid rotation player for their strong finish to the season and their romp over the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs. Grade: PASS.
Traded G Ronnie Brewer to Oklahoma City for a future second-round draft pick. The pick Grunwald acquired was the second second-rounder that was sent to Toronto in Ujiri’s Great Train Robbery, so therefore … GRADE: FAIL.
Signed F Rasheed Wallace. Was part of the GeriatKnicks movement. And since that ended in failure, with Prigioni and Martin the only old guys playing rotation minutes in the second-round series against the Pacers, we hereby declare … GRADE: FAIL.
Signed F Ronnie Brewer. The old fella actually had a great November for the Knicks, but then again, who didn’t? That one good month earns Glen a rare … GRADE: PASS
Signed G Pablo Prigioni. The elderly rookie adjusted quite nicely to the NBA in his first season after leaving Spain, becoming one of the best in the NA at stealing lazy inbounds passes. Played well against Pacers (in case you forgot, Jason Kidd was benched for the entire second half of the Knicks’ final playoff loss. So was Amare Stoudemire.) GRADE: PASS
Traded Jared Jeffries, Dan Gadzuric, the rights to Kostas Papanikaolau and a future second-round pick to Portland for Raymond Felton and Kurt Thomas. Grunwald landed himself a starting point guard, not giving up a lot to get him – unless the Greek kid turns into the next Eurostud – and he ain’t bad. Kurt was a nice guy, but he was another GeriatKnick who needed too much Geritol. He was waived on the eve of the playoffs. GRADE: PASS.
Signed G Jason Kidd to a multi-year contract. Who ever would have thunk Grunwald signed the successor to Avery Johnson/P.J. Carlesimo as coach of the Nets? Kidd went down in flames in the playoffs. Grade: FAIL.
Signed F Steve Novak to a multi-year contract. Was a no-brainer after Novak led the league in 3-point accuracy, but he fell out of Woodson’s rotation and was dumped on the Raptors. I’ll bet anyone a dollar that Novak finishes this season with more 3s made than Bargnani. GRADE: INCOMPLETE.
Acquired Marcus Camby from Houston for Josh Harrellson, Jerome Jordan, Toney Douglas and two future second-round draft picks. When Mills looks at the ledger and sees how many draft picks he owes, he may as well fire the entire scouting staff. The Knicks also sent $2.4 million to the Rockets in this deal — not a good thing when you can only trade $3 million in cash per season under the new CBA. GRADE: FAIL.
Signed F Chris Copeland. Nice signing, nice player. But the Knicks only gave him one year when they could have added a team option for a second year, which is standard procedure when bringing in older Americans from Europe. That oversight is why Copeland is now a member of the Indiana Pacers. And thus … GRADE: FAIL.
Declined to match Houston’s offer sheet to Jeremy Lin. This was a smart move because of the luxury tax ramifications – it would have cost the Knicks about $50 million, including luxury tax penalties, to have Lin on their roster next season. GRADE: PASS.
Declined to match Toronto’s offer sheet to Landry Fields. Ah, for the days of the Landry and Andy show. GRADE: PASS.
Signed G J.R. Smith and G James “Flight” White. The former won Sixth Man honors. The latter was fun to watch in the layup line. GRADE: PASS.
Quite a body of work, and not a lot of passing grades. It should be noted that Walsh, Grunwald’s predecessor, also traded away a slew of future draft picks, but get this: The Knicks have to give away their first-round picks in 2014 (Houston) and 2016 (Toronto), plus every second-round pick they would have had in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.
Chris Sheridan is publisher and editor-in-chief of SheridanHoops.com. Follow him on Twitter.