Donnie Walsh Rumors
The secondary problem is that the people with knowledge don’t tell them anything of substance. No team official is going to tell a “draft expert” who he’s hoping to take in the draft, and some will tell outright lies to keep other teams away from their choice. Walsh famously did that in his first draft, 1986, when he put out the word he was “going big” to enhance the likelihood his primary target, small forward Chuck Person, would be available. Person went on to become Rookie of the Year. “There’s a lot of lying that goes on, and a lot of gamesmanship,” Carr said. Walsh, like Carr, often accepts phone calls from mock drafters. But he reveals nothing. “I’ll start the conversation by saying, ‘I’m not going to tell you who we’re taking. And if you guess it right, I’m going to lie to you,'” Walsh said.
Amazing as Auerbach’s last admission sounds for the man who’s been making Boston’s draft picks and trades, other general managers say it’s the truth. “I think Red is probably the greatest general manager and coach we’ve ever had in this league up to this point,” says Donnie Walsh, now in his fourth season as the Indiana Pacers’ team president and GM. “I’ve read all his books, but I don’t think I’ve ever personally talked to him.”
Riley also liked that Curry was the son of a successful and respected ex-NBA player. Riley sold then-Warriors coach Don Nelson on Curry as well. Austin and Dell Curry still tried to keep the Warriors away from Stephen Curry. But Austin told then-Knicks president Donnie Walsh that unless they could trade up, he expected Golden State to draft Curry. Austin said Walsh didn’t believe him because the Warriors already had guard Monta Ellis. “I said, ‘Larry, I like you a lot and respect you a lot, but don’t take Steph. This is not the right place for him,’ ” Austin said. “We wanted him in New York.” Said Riley: “Dell was the same way. He was almost cold.”
Carmelo Anthony is well known as one of the top scorers in the NBA. But his detractors say he doesn’t do enough in the other facets of the game — rebounding, defense, passing — to be considered a top all-around player. Ex-Knicks president Donnie Walsh thinks the triangle offense can change all of that. “He can do everything. But most teams look at him to score, so he scores,” Walsh said in an interview with Sirius XM’s Adam Schein. “I think he can rebound. I think he can play defense when he wants to — I’ve seen it. He can rebound. I think he can pass the ball. Pretty much, he can do any of the skills required to play in that offense. And I think that will bring that out in him.”
He hasn’t smoked since. His tongue is still intact. And he is now a consultant for the Pacers. He gets screenings regularly and so far, so good. “It has not come back,” he said. “Nobody will ever tell you you are cured form cancer, I will tell you that.”
But Walsh had to head to New York for his new job, so he put it off. With some prodding from his wife, Judy, and the Knicks’ medical staff, he got the biopsy there. It was cancer. And he stood there in his hotel room. “I was scared to death,” he said. “In my mind, I thought they were going to cut my tongue off. I can’t do this job without my tongue. I was taking it all away.”
His career as Indiana Pacers president behind him, he was embarking on a new journey running the New York Knicks. But all he could do, at this moment in 2008, was stare at himself in the mirror. “I was looking in the mirror and I was saying to myself, ‘You are so stupid,’ ” Walsh said. “Because I smoked at that point. I said to myself, ‘You got your lungs checked. You got everything else checked, but you didn’t get the thing that you put the thing on checked.’ ” The thing (tongue) that he put the thing (cigarette) on hadn’t been checked out by a doctor in 50 years of smoking. And now, inside the hotel room, he was staring down a terrifying diagnosis. Walsh had tongue cancer. “How stupid,” he remembers thinking.
The 74-year-old Walsh, back in Indiana as the team’s consultant to basketball operations, is remembered for clearing cap space, bringing in Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, but leaving the Knicks’ cupboard bare. It wasn’t necessarily by his choice, as multiple sources said Walsh didn’t want to give up all those assets to Denver for Anthony in February 2011 but was encouraged by star-struck owner James Dolan. Walsh declined to sign a contract extension, leaving in 2011 after three seasons. “My feeling was we had to build a good team beyond the stars and so I never did that because I left,’’ said Walsh, sitting courtside at Bankers Life Field House. “That’s what will have to be done. Good players and great players. You can’t just get a couple of great players and say, ‘OK, we’re done now.’ ’’
Donnie Walsh, who serves as a consultant for the Indiana Pacers, played college basketball at the University of North Carolina. Before the start of Walsh’s senior year, Dean Smith was announced as the new head coach. That 1961-62 Tar Heels roster also included former Pacers coach Larry Brown. Coach Smith, who coached two NCAA national championship teams and the 1976 Olympic gold medal team, passed away last night at his home in North Carolina. The following is a statement from Donnie Walsh about Coach Smith. “The announcement of the passing of Dean is a sad time for all the members of the North Carolina basketball and University family. He was a wonderful man and mentor and he was one of the largest influences in my life. The basketball world in general will mourn his passing and celebrate the many innovations he brought to the game but his legacy to all of us was as a decent and caring gentleman. Our coach and mentor.” – Donnie Walsh
From Indianapolis, Walsh can only wonder, wistfully, how Curry might have changed the course of recent Knicks history. “Every time I see him play, I think of it,” he said. “He was the guy I was really looking for, and his agent kept telling me he wanted to be in New York. So it just broke my heart when we didn’t get him because I knew we had missed out on something special.”
“He’d get the ball in the backcourt and boom, he was gone,” Walsh said by telephone from Indianapolis. “It wasn’t just his quickness; he saw everything. I’m sitting there thinking, ‘We’ve got D’Antoni coaching our team and this kid would fit perfectly.’ ”
In a telephone interview, Curry’s father, Dell, who played 16 N.B.A. seasons as a sweet-shooting guard, said: “The Warriors had some questionable characters on their team, the Knicks really needed a point guard, and we felt that Stephen would fit perfectly with a coach like Mike D’Antoni, playing that fast up-and-down style. He loved the idea of playing at Madison Square Garden.”
For Walsh, the most painful part of the episode is that leading into the draft, Curry wanted no part of the Warriors and, assuming he was not going to be drafted higher, had pointed to the Knicks as his preferred landing site. Curry refused to so much as visit or work out for the Warriors.
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Pacers basketball operations consultant Donnie Walsh has presided over some Indiana teams that were title contenders, but this one finally could get him a championship. “I think we’re in with a small group of teams that could win a championship,” Walsh said. “We have a good team. We play as a team. We have good guys that want to win, that so far have been committed to doing that. They share the ball, they play hard — all the good things everybody wants, they do. So I love being around them.”
On Nets coach Jason Kidd’s struggles in his first year coaching, Walsh noted the team’s injuries and said “I think he’ll be a great coach, but you can’t judge him on the first 10 games.” Walsh also ripped into the anonymous scout quoted in a Bleacher Report story in which the scout said Kidd “doesn’t do anything.” “Are those the anonymous scouts? Tell them to put their names on it,” Walsh said. “I think he’s gonna be a good coach. You’ve got my name. Too many gutless guys in this league.”
Former executives Donnie Walsh and Glen Grunwald passed on Faried in the draft to take Shumpert after the scouting combine in Chicago because they didn’t feel he had the length to be a top-notch rebounder. But Faried has proven to be an fierce boardman, averaging 8.8 rebounds in 24 minutes.
Arlena can still recall the elation in his voice the day he called to tell her the Indiana Pacers, a new team in a new league, had made him the franchise’s first player. “From there,” she says, “it was just history.” He averaged 17.6 points a game over an eight-year career and led the Pacers to three titles, winning playoff MVP honors in 1970. His name was later cleared in the gambling scandal, but he refused entry into the NBA near the end of his career. He retired in 1975 among the best in ABA history. “The Pacers were the class of the league, and Roger was the class of the class,” Julius Erving said in Green’s documentary. “He would have been known as one of the greatest players of all-time, but he never got that chance,” longtime NBA executive Donnie Walsh added. “The greatest Pacer ever,” Reggie Miller said.
Larry Bird: “I feel better. I had some injuries and mentally I felt better. It was nine-straight years. Donnie felt like he wanted to come back and I didn’t know if I was going to come back this year. They continued to call, leave messages, I spoke to the owner and Donnie [Walsh] numerous times and if you’re going to do it better do it now because it’s not going to get any easier down the road.
“The year off gave me a chance to reflect, to rest, to take care of some health issues and it re-charged me,” said Bird. “Donnie and Kevin did a great job and I will lean on both heavily as we move forward toward the goal of competing for a championship.”
The Indiana Pacers announced Wednesday that Larry Bird will return to the team as President of Basketball Operations. Bird agreed to a multi-year deal and per team policy, no terms will be released. Donnie Walsh, who held that position the last year, will be a consultant to the franchise and Kevin Pritchard remains as the Pacers’ General Manager.
General manager Kevin Pritchard will remain on as Bird’s No. 2 while Donnie Walsh, who said last week he’d be ready to step aside if Bird returned, will become a consultant. Bird will not be involved in Thursday’s draft, which Walsh and Pritchard have been working on for months.
Pacers president Donnie Walsh also has interest in Copeland after watching him in the playoff series against Indiana. But Indiana is not under the salary cap. Copeland has stated his strong preference is to remain a Knick, but the financial situation may make that impossible.
The Nets head coaching search eventually filtered down to two candidates, Jason Kidd and Indiana Pacers assistant Brian Shaw, said general manager Billy King. In actuality at the end, there was only one, Kidd, even while Shaw went through a lengthy interview on Wednesday. “I’m disappointed because I did not speak to Billy directly but I did give him permission to talk to him and wrote him a note letting him know what I thought [about Shaw],” said Pacers president of basketball operations Donnie Walsh Thursday. “He’s going to be a great head coach. Great head coach.”
Walsh hasn’t talked to Bird in more than a month, since the Pacers went deep into the playoffs. Should Bird wish to return and an agreement can be made with owner Herb Simon, Walsh said he’s prepared to step away. A three-headed monster with Walsh, Bird and Pritchard would be just that, and wouldn’t be good for the organization.