|New York Knicks set to announce hiring of Pacers' Donnie Walsh as team president|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 02 April 2008 05:38|
``No, I look back and I look at what we started with and where we're going and I think we have a very bright future,'' Thomas said Tuesday night.
On Wednesday, the Knicks turn their basketball operations over to Walsh. The Knicks will announce Walsh as their new president at an afternoon news conference at Madison Square Garden, a person with knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press on Tuesday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the Knicks have not yet made the move official.
Walsh, the longtime Indiana Pacers executive, will replace Thomas, who is also the Knicks' coach. Thomas' future remains unclear. He repeatedly has said he expects to be with the Knicks next season, but that likely will be up to Walsh, who hired Thomas to coach the Pacers in 2000.
The Knicks fell to 20-54 with a 119-115 overtime loss at Milwaukee on Tuesday. They continue their five-game road trip at Memphis on Wednesday.
The 67-year-old Walsh recently announced he was leaving the Pacers after 24 years with the organization. He joined the Pacers' front office as general manager in 1986, became team president in 1988 and CEO in 2003. He helped the franchise rise from NBA laughingstock to title contender.
``One of the highest things on my list is Donnie's happiness,'' Pacers co-owner Herb Simon said. ``If that is what he wants, I'm very happy for him. He has given us 24 years of incredible service. I think he'll do a great job.''
Indiana reached the Eastern Conference finals six times and won the Central Division four times during Walsh's stay as an executive. The Pacers reached the NBA finals in 2000, when they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers, and had the league's best record in 2004.
``I've often, when I needed some basketball advice, he's on a short list of people that I pick up the phone and call around the league for just basketball matters,'' NBA commissioner David Stern said last week. ``And he works and works and works.''
He'll have plenty of work to do in New York, where the Knicks are finishing their seventh straight losing season and won't be easily fixed, because they have a number of players whose high salaries make them difficult to trade.
The Knicks haven't won a playoff game since Thomas arrived as president in December 2003 and could be headed for the first 60-loss season in franchise history. Still, Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan has remained loyal to Thomas, though he has not spoken to the media since rewarding him with a multiyear contract extension last March.
Now Dolan and the Knicks turn to a native New Yorker who has long been one of the NBA's most respected executives. The Pacers made the playoffs in 16 of the past 18 years, though the past three seasons have been littered with losing, personnel changes and off-the-court problems that have damaged the reputation of the franchise.
Walsh had taken a lesser role by then following the Pacers' hiring of Larry Bird as their president in 2003. When he announced he would leave the team after the season, Walsh said he wouldn't reveal any plans about his future until after the season.
Reports had already surfaced that Dolan had preliminary talks with Walsh. Negotiations moved quickly, with the Knicks apparently not even interviewing anyone else for the job.
Walsh will now be in charge of the team that in the 1990s became the Pacers' big rival.
``It's interesting,'' Simon said. ``I just spoke with Reggie (Miller). We both admire and love Donnie. We're going to find it hard to root for one of our rivals, but we'll always be rooting for Donnie.''