What, you thought I meant Bill?
It's been over two months since Donnie Walsh had hip surgery and he's still using a walker, but is hoping he won't need it much longer. The rehabilitation has been a pain in the butt, literally. [That's where the scar is from the procedure and this is where my career is going: I am writing about Donnie Walsh's rear end.]
And despite his blank expressions and non-answers, Walsh doesn't seem at all pained by this time of year and the opportunity to land yet another star. He saw the Nets succumb to rumors and posturing from all angles. But Walsh shrugs that stuff off.
"It doesn't help, doesn't help," he said of all the chatter that comes with being a GM in New York. "But I accepted that when I got here."
He likes the challenge of the daily depositions that attempt to pull out even the slightest bit of information. His poker face is priceless.
Carmelo? Carmelo who?
Before Monday's game, Walsh suggested that right now he is merely checking around the league like any other GM to see if there are any deals that will help improve the team.
The entire league, meanwhile, is pointing toward Denver.
Walsh was told about the Sporting News report that quoted an anonymous NBA general manager saying just about everyone in the league felt it was "inevitable" that Carmelo Anthony would wind up with the Knicks. The GM added, "It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when."
And Walsh cocked his head to the side and replied, "What general manager was quoted?"
See that's the thing about anonymous quotes . . .
"Because you're going to quote me . . . When they put their name behind it, then I'll answer the question," Walsh then said.
When they put their name behind it, then that means the deal has been done.
The pregame media scrum was trademark Walsh. Despite the sense around the league that Melo and the Knicks are on a collision course, at Sunday's practice, Walsh gave a very casual outlook from his perspective. And for good reason: there's no hurry.
Sure, the Nuggets are likely going to have to face reality soon enough, perhaps on Feb. 24, when the NBA's trade deadline arrives. But right now they have five straight games against teams with losing records and a very favorable schedule over the coming month that will help them get closer to solidifying a playoff berth in the West. They're in the seventh spot right now, but trail the sixth place Jazz by just 2.5 games. They're also ahead of the ninth-place Grizzlies by four games.
So let's just assume that Denver might want to squeeze as much as they can -- a playoff berth means at least two home games, which is important income -- out of Carmelo until the 11th hour arrives.
As we saw last year at the trade deadline, Walsh can handle 11th hour deals. The Tracy McGrady trade twice seemed dead, including 24 hours before the deadline. But it still went down and, though two assets were lost in Jordan Hill and the 2012 first round pick, the trade did open up the cap space to allow the Knicks to sign Raymond Felton.
[Bloghost note: By the way, Carmelo sure looks a lot happier on the court since the Nets talk disappeared. Perhaps he's a little more comfortable with his future?]
In one breath, Walsh says, "I don't want to give up the whole team, or something, for a player" but then says he doesn't believe there are any untouchable players. "There are very few players you'd say, off hand, I will never trade this guy," he said. "I didn't say that about Reggie Miller."
Of course not. There was always the chance Jerry Krause might get fed up with Michael Jordan, right?
Personally, I believe Walsh and the Knicks want Carmelo, but being greedy -- which is how you always enter a negotiation -- they'd rather get him without giving up too many key pieces to the team. Remember, in the end the Knicks might find they are bidding against themselves. So why overpay now when you might get him at your original price later?
And even if Anthony did stay in Denver, or was dealt elsewhere without an extension and opt-out as a free agent, the Knicks would likely still have to renounce Wilson Chandler's Bird Rights and/or dump other players, just to create enough salary cap space for a full max contract. And, really, anything about free agency is pure speculation because there will be a new collective bargaining agreement, with a new system and new rules that no one can predict at this point.
Still, considering what the team's payroll looks like in 2011 and 2012, Walsh speaks quite confidently about his team's situation in comparison to the rest of the league. "I'm comfortable that we'll be better off than a lot of the other guys," he said. Even if the cap goes down, contracts will go down with it and, Walsh added, "we'll still be in a good position."
Then I asked him if, with the uncertainty of the next CBA, if he feels any anxiousness to make a move to get a player now rather than worry about maneuvering to make sure he can sign a star player who might be available.
"That may enter into it," Walsh admitted, "but I haven't had to be put in that situation."
No, not yet. There's still plenty of time between now and the trade deadline.
* * *
* - Raymond Felton's 15 assists against the Wizards on Monday was his 22nd double figure assist performance of the season. That's the most since Stephon Marbury had 25 during the 2004-05 season. He was also wearing these all-orange Adidas sneakers. I don't know why you'd want to wear bright colors on your feet on a basketball court. How easy are you to defend off the ball? His feet are easy to spot in peripheral vision and . . . OK I just seriously have an issue with the color orange.
* - Wilson Chandler seemed to finally get his groove back. After an 0-for-4 first quarter, Chandler hit nine of his last 16 shots. He drained a three early in the second quarter and looked up to the Garden ceiling. "I just needed to see a few shots go in," he said. Asked if missing shots had anything to do with hearing his name connected to trade rumors, Wilson replied, "Nah, just not making them. Wasn't having good games."
* - Observation I made on Twitter during the game: Andray Blatche would have fit perfectly as a Knick circa 2004-2009. What an abominable package of lazy talent and contract apathy.
* - Danilo Gallinari had 17 points and though he didn't shoot the ball exceptionally well (5 of 13, 1 of 5 from downtown), what was encouraging to see was that he took seven shots in the fourth quarter and had seven of the teams' 22 points in the final quarter to help put the game away. Gallinari had a strong first half in OKC, but disappeared from the offense in the second half of that game. It was something Mike D'Antoni said needed to be addressed and clearly it was. Gallinari is most effective when he's engaged and involved in the offense. When he's not, he's just a really tall spectator with fashionable hair.
* - I get the feeling from watching Timofey Mozgov lately in practice and in his pre-game workouts that he's just about ready for a second chance in the rotation. The Knicks obviously could use his size and after going through a tough stretch in which the game got so complicated for him he couldn't even catch a pass, Mozgov seems like he has his confidence back. The trick is to get on the court in meaningful minutes to prove he can make a positive contribution. D'Antoni continues to promote the small-ball strategy -- the latest theory is that it's better for Amar'e to play center because it forces other teams to play small and then there's only one big for him to go up against -- and yet Walsh said he thinks the team needs more size. "We could use another big man," Walsh said. "That's for sure." What good is acquiring a middle-of-the-road center if he's only going to take the bench seat vacated by whomever you traded for him? The goal may be to develop Mozgov to where he can fill that need on a regular basis. And somehow convince D'Antoni to give him a second chance.
* - Sweatshirt of the week: Bill Walker's read "I (heart) My Money." He keeps making threes and providing instant perimeter offense off the bench, the pending free agent will have more of it next season.