Donnie Walsh will step down as president of the New York Knicks, the team announced Friday. At the center of the decision would appear to be full sovereignty on personnel decisions; recent reports indicated that the major sticking point in contract extension negotiations between Walsh and franchise owner James Dolan was ultimate power on transactions. Dolan famously consults with previous Knicks president Isiah Thomas on basketball matters. Reports of Isiah interference circle every Knicks rumor.
But the questions about the nature of Walsh's decision also bring into question the fate of Mike D'Antoni, the team's only head coach under Walsh. Will the Knicks and their new decision-maker decide to make a move on the bench as well?
There's a hint in the Knicks' statement on the Walsh decision. The final line of Dolan's statements reads as follows:
"With some of the NBA's premier players, an oustanding coach and one of the league's most passionate and loyal fanbases, we are extremely confident about the future of the Knicks franchise."
The emphasis is ours. Of course, if the statement hadn't mentioned D'Antoni in addition to the players and fans, red flags would have shot into the air immediately. As such, it's hard to read too much into D'Antoni's future with the team.
But either way, his fate is a lot less certain with Walsh in the back seat than it was with the man who hired him driving. D'Antoni's future could ride on whoever Dolan picks as the new team president, and that's a risky place to be.