Donnie Walsh is officially our leader, and today's press conference should breathe some hope into the fanbase of this Knick franchise. For those of you that missed the presser, I was watching and took notes.
- James Dolan opened with his first real words to the media in quite a while. As one of the writers in attendance pointed out, JD used the word "autonomy" twice (!) in reference to Walsh's new job.
- Walsh was bombarded with a dozen different versions of the same question, that of Isiah Thomas' future with the Knicks. Walsh responded, often with an edge of sarcasm at the pesky media, that his plan was to sit down with Isiah, other front office members, and Knick players, and then begin to take steps towards the future. Walsh emphasized going into the meetings without any pretense, and without jumping to conclusions based on what he observed from afar. He expressed that Isiah "has the skills to help this franchise", but in no way leaned one way or another as far as keeping him. I think it's gonna take a little while for New York writers to learn to take what this guy says at face value. They're used to reading between Isiah's lines, and were desperately trying to unearth some of Walsh's plans, while he remained firm that he isn't yet prepared to make any calls, and justifiably so. The man just got here.
- Another point of emphasis was cap flexibility in 3 years. Walsh made a point of wanting to be able to test the free agent market down the road, and the closest he came to revealing his plan was a suggestion of avoiding acquisition of long-term contracts for the next few seasons. Regarding the immediate future, Walsh insisted that "it isn't so much the players themselves. It's the mix of players", and that getting the team at least to the point of contention is a goal for the near future.
- The final, and perhaps most refreshing, announcement was that Walsh would have "autonomy to establish the policies in relating to the media". He envisions "a policy that is more open and more accessible" while still protecting players and media members alike.
Update: More from Henry Abbott suggesting that Walsh is, above all, a reasonable guy and a good, respectable person. That's a good step in changing the face of an embattled franchise.