Walsh and Dolan are expected to meet within the next few days, according to several people with ties to the team, all of whom asked for anonymity to protect their relationships. All expressed confidence that Walsh would be back, probably with a two-year contract extension.
Walsh’s contract is set to expire June 30, unless Dolan picks up a one-year option by Saturday or signs him to an extension before July 1. Dolan has apparently indicated that he wants Walsh to stay.
Some issues have to be resolved.
Walsh wants reassurance that he will have full autonomy on basketball decisions — a promise Dolan made when he hired him three years ago. Although Walsh has generally called the shots, there have been notable exceptions.
Last summer, Dolan tried to hire , the former team president, as a consultant, over Walsh’s strenuous objections. The later disallowed the arrangement because Thomas is also a college coach, at Florida International University.
In February, Dolan pushed through the trade, despite reservations from Walsh, who felt the Knicks were giving up too much. Walsh had taken a conservative approach to the negotiations, believing that Anthony’s strong desire to play for the Knicks would work in their favor.
With Dolan leading the charge, the Knicks sent four rotation players and multiple draft picks to Denver.
Walsh is also perturbed that a number of people, both inside and outside the Garden, are advising Dolan on basketball decisions, undermining Walsh’s authority.
As several people with ties to the team explained it, the critical issue is whether Dolan wants the 70-year-old Walsh back badly enough to make those concessions. Money is not an issue, nor is Walsh’s health or his enthusiasm for the job.
“I think Donnie will try to make it work,” one friend of Walsh’s said. “I assume they’ll come to some understanding.”
People close to Walsh say he is eager to finish the rebuilding job that he undertook in 2008, when he inherited a fractured, overpriced roster put together by Thomas. The Knicks made the playoffs this season for the first time in seven years and had their first winning record in a decade. They were swept in the first round by the .
Neither Walsh nor Coach has spoken to reporters since the season ended, presumably because Walsh wants his situation resolved first. D’Antoni has one year left on his contract, but his fate could be tied to Walsh’s.
Most of the front office is also in limbo, with the contracts of several scouts and team officials set to expire June 30. The list includes John Gabriel, the director of pro scouting and free agency; Misho Ostarcevic, the director of player personnel; Mark Warkentien, the director of pro player personnel; Rodney Heard, the director of East Coast scouting; and Mark Hughes, the director of West Coast scouting.
It is unclear whether the Knicks’ other scouts — Kevin Wilson, Walker D. Russell, Ben Jobe, Scott McGuire and Steve Yoder — are also on that list.
Ostarcevic and Gabriel were Walsh’s first major hires in 2008. Warkentien, a former executive, joined the Knicks in February, reportedly at Dolan’s insistence, as part of the campaign to acquire Anthony.
Heard, who was originally hired by Thomas, has hardly been seen since last fall, when Yahoo Sports reported that he had run a number of illegal workouts of college players. The N.B.A. fined the Knicks $200,000 for the violations and fined Heard $20,000.