After posting their highest win total since 1997 and making their longest playoff run since 2000, the Knicks have seen it fit to replace their general manager.
Former Madison Square Garden president Steve Mills -- who oversaw the worst run in franchise history -- will return to the Knicks to serve as president and general manager, the team announced Thursday, and as was first reported by ESPN's Marc Stein. Grunwald will remain with the team in an advisory role.
That might be preferred to dismissing Grunwald entirely, but this is a baffling turn of events given how successful the Knicks have been specifically due to Grunwald's tinkering. Despite having minimal resources to work with as a result of New York's bloated payroll, he began his tenure as interim GM -- following the resignation of Donnie Walsh -- by drafting guard Iman Shumpert with the 17th pick and constructing a sign-and-trade agreement to acquire center Tyson Chandler. Over the next two seasons, he did a magnificent job of supplementing a talented core with terrific bargains. J.R. Smith was initially acquired on a two-year deal worth a mere $5.7 million; Pablo Prigioni and Chris Copeland were found and signed to minimum deals that they would outperform considerably; Jeremy Lin was claimed off of waivers; Raymond Felton was nabbed on a four-year contract for an entirely reasonable $14.9 million in total; Jason Kidd was swiped away from the Mavericks and became an important piece; Kenyon Martin was a helpful addition on a minimum contract; and even Rasheed Wallace was lured out of retirement to play well for the Knicks before suffering a season-ending injury.
Grunwald's tenure has its blemishes (the Knicks' recent acquisition of Andrea Bargnani perhaps chief among them), but none so egregious as to outweigh the good he's done for the franchise or suggest him undeserving of continuing his role as general manager. James Dolan apparently thinks otherwise, as reports -- including this one from Jared Zwerling of Bleacher Report -- point the finger in his direction:
https://twitter.com/JaredZwerling/statuses/383264453292093442 Even in the case that Grunwald had done his job so poorly as to be worthy of dismissal, it's hard to piece together the possible line of logic that would lead to his "reassignment" at this juncture -- with an offseason of work said and done, and just a few days remaining before training camp begins. It's a strange decision made at an even stranger time -- one completely befitting a franchise and owner prone to confounding choices.