In Thursday night's 2011 NBA Draft, the New York Knicks had the opportunity to replenish the assets they lost in the Carmelo Anthony deal.
As a Knicks fan, I was hoping outgoing president Donnie Walsh was going to wheel and deal like Kevin Pritchard in his final draft with Portland when he was a lame duck GM. The Blazers had the 22nd pick in the first round, traded up from No. 44 to No. 34 in the second round, and traded Martell Webster for Luke Babbitt (1st round pick) and Ryan Gomes.
The Knicks had the 17th pick in the first round and it was widely assumed with James Dolan's bankroll the Knicks would look to add one or maybe even more picks in the late first, early second round. This would allow them to build up the depth they lost trading Danillo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Timofey Mozgov, Raymond Felton and Anthony Randolph.
The 2011 Draft was so important for the Knicks because with uncertain labor issues this was the best way for them to improve the team. If Donnie Walsh nailed two picks, New York had the potential to become a top four team in the East.
This night could have been a game changer. The incredible part: everything broke right and somehow they came away with Iman Shumpert and Josh Harrellson.
Iman Shumpert could turn into a very good basketball player. He is athletic, has excellent size, and can play defense. Maybe Josh Harrellson plays better than expectations and becomes a solid 7th man.
None of that would change the fact Donnie Walsh blew his final draft as GM. He misplayed the value in the draft.
Chris Singleton was the right pick for the Knicks to take at 17. Some have said it would be difficult for Singleton to get minutes on the Knicks. Everyone remembers Mike D'Antoni is the Knicks coach right? Singleton is 6'9" and 230 pounds. Shawn Marion who is 6'7" and 228 pounds was D'Antoni's starting PF in Phoenix.
It's a pipe dream Mike D'Antoni will completely scrap going small with Amar'e Stoudemire at center.
In addition, Stoudemire has health issues and should be kept between 33-35 minutes a night. Not to mention 'Melo can't play 48 minutes a game.
There were plenty of minutes for Chris Singleton on the Knicks.
With Singleton already gone at 17, it would have allowed New York to concentrate on a guard with a second purchased pick instead of nabbing Josh Harrellson.
Reggie Jackson, Norris Cole, Shelvin Mack, Darius Morris, Malcom Lee, Charles Jenkins, Andrew Goudelock and Josh Selby were a solid group of point guards possibly available. Out of the group Reggie Jackson and Norris Cole ended up being unrealistic. If New York wanted to make a play for any of the others on the list they could have.
At 31, the Minnesota Timberwolves with David Kahn at the helm, who happens to be Donnie Walsh's protégé (how come no one ever mentions this as a gigantic demerit on Donnie Walsh's resume?) sell their pick to the New Jersey Nets for cash.
Donnie Walsh, are you awake?
The Charlotte Bobcats sold the 39th pick to the Golden State Warriors.
Donnie Walsh, are you still sleeping?
These were two prime opportunities for the Knicks to jump and get a player with much better value than they did at 45 with Josh Harrellson.
There really should be no debate; New York would have been better off leaving Newark with Chris Singleton and one of the guards listed above than Iman Shumpert and Josh Harrellson.
With the Knicks current team Donnie Walsh's tenure is equal to Isiah Thomas. If Walsh kept the team Isiah built together the Knicks would have been a 6-8 seed with around 42-45 wins. The team Walsh has built is in that same range, but probably a little higher if they had an incredibly lucky year.
The only way for Walsh's time in New York to be remembered in a better context is if Shumpert is part of a deal grabbing the Knicks Chris Paul or Steve Nash. In that case, Mr. Walsh would get the last laugh.