By John Schmeelk
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Glen Grunwald is a name some Knicks fans might not even know. He was very quietly hired as the Knicks assistant general manager in September of 2006, after Isiah Thomas was forced into the head coach position, replacing the disgraced Larry Brown. It should be noted this was after the 2006 disaster of a draft when Isiah Thomas made Renaldo Balkman and Mardy Collins the Knicks first round picks. He then quietly kept his job under Donnie Walsh, until replacing him as general manager last season.
During Grunwald’s term the Knicks first round draft picks include Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Jordan Hill, and Iman Shumpert. Two of the three second round picks during his tenure were Landry Fields and Josh Harrellson. Besides Jordan Hill, which was a major mistake, the other first round picks were virtual home runs. Getting two useful players in the second round are victories as well. Obviously Donnie Walsh had a lot to do with those selections, but Glen Grunwald was given a lot of draft responsibilities and he deserves some as well.
There’s also something to be said for Grunwald living through the nuclear apocalypse that was the end of the Isiah Thomas era. He saw the results of what Scott Layden, and then Isiah did to what was once a great franchise. Those are invaluable lessons he can take forward in managing the Knicks and salary cap. The general theme: Don’t overpay mediocre players and don’t trade away first round draft picks very often. Also, don’t draft Renaldo Balkman over Rajon Rondo. That’s a gift that keeps on giving.
He saw that the damage done by Isiah forced the Knicks into being terrible for two transition years, one rebuilding year, and finally this season where the team actually has the ability to content. He was with Donnie Walsh as he went about rebuilding this roster the right way, through free agency, the draft, and via trades. There is no better person to learn from.
Since taking over for Walsh, the Knicks would not be a playoff team without Grunwald’s moves. Drafting Iman Shumpert is the first, someone who has already proven he has top ten talent. Donnie Walsh was still employed at the time of the pick, but Grunwald had great influence. Shawne Williams departed but Glen Grunwald replaced him with an even better shooter in Steve Novak. Grunwald found Jeremy Lin, who helped save the Knicks season. He took a chance on Baron Davis, the Knicks starting point guard in the playoffs. He took a chance on the mercurial JR Smith, who was returning from China and is as erratic as they come. Smith is now an integral part of the Knicks bench and a potential X-factor in their playoff run.
In his biggest move, Grunwald took a great risk using the Knicks only amnesty provision on Chauncey Billups so they could sign Tyson Chandler. It looks like a homerun decision now, with Billups season ending achilles injury and the emergence of Jeremy Lin. But at the time, Billups was the team’s only experienced point guard in a system that needs one for it to be effective. Chandler had his flaws like being injury and foul prone but those have been overcome. Instead the Knicks got a guy who could very well be their team MVP and the potential Defensive Player of the Year. It was creative, and genius.
Grunwald is also able to get along with James Dolan, no easy task. Going back further, he helped turn the Raptors into a contending team with Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady. He has seen the bad days with the Knicks, and I think he has learned from them. The Isiah Thomas connection doesn’t worry me. He and Mike Woodson get along. He is a good basketball man without the glitz and glamour. Knicks fans should be very happy he is the guy steering their basketball ship.
– I love the people lining up to defend Ron Artest. For the record, I refuse to refer to him as Metta World Peace. There is no doubt in my mind he knew James Harden was there. He felt him on his shoulder, and then decided to wind up and throw an errant high elbow. To me, that is the equivalent of an intentional punch. The seven game suspension the NBA gave out is about right, and should force him to miss an entire round of the playoffs.
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