Soft spoken and rarely near the spotlight, Grunwald has overseen personnel decisions since replacing Donnie Walsh last summer. He has made a significant impact on the team, signing Tyson Chandler and scooping up Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak after Lin was released by the Houston Rockets and Novak by the San Antonio Spurs. Chandler toughened the Knicks’ defense, Linsanity became a global phenomenon and Novak became a sharpshooting fan favorite.
Grunwald also signed Baron Davis, now the starting point guard, and made the risky move to sign J. R. Smith in midseason, a decision that is paying dividends, at least when Smith is converting his shots.
Grunwald, who was the general manager of the Toronto Raptors from 1998 to 2004, first worked under Isiah Thomas with the Knicks and then under Walsh.
Speaking of the success of some of his moves, Grunwald said last week: “You’re just glad that things worked out better than anticipated. Sometimes, it doesn’t happen.”
Before his promotion was announced, Carmelo Anthony confirmed at practice that the Knicks’ interim head coach, Mike Woodson, has his support beyond this season. Anthony cited Woodson for his hard-nosed coaching style and the accountability that he demands from his players.
Asked if he would take that message to Knicks management, Anthony responded, “I’m pretty sure they’re hearing it right now.”
Woodson said: “Absolutely, I would love to come back. I think when you’ve been given an opportunity to start something, you’d love to finish it, but again, that’s not my call. I think when that time comes, I’ll probably have time to have an opportunity to sit down and talk to Mr. Dolan and management about it and hopefully it will work in my favor.”
For now, Woodson will focus on the playoffs. At practice, he began that process in earnest with a session that was heavy on teaching, even though the Knicks are not sure who their first-round opponent will be.
“Today was more of playoff atmosphere, mentality out there,” Anthony said.
Woodson said the Knicks had a foundation that they would use against any playoff opponent.
“We’re in the process of putting things together based on the three teams we could possibly play,” he said. “Miami, Chicago and Indiana in that order, so we had a big meeting this morning about that, and we’ll continue to prep and get everything in place depending on who we draw.”
Miami, the Knicks’ most probable first-round opponent, is generally viewed as the toughest team given the Knicks’ struggles against the Heat this season (0-3) and Miami’s rampage through the Eastern Conference in last season’s playoffs, when the Heat won 12 of 15 games.
Carmelo Anthony’s 43-point display in a riveting victory over Chicago combined with health concerns over Derrick Rose has many fans hoping the Knicks will slide from the seventh seed to the eighth seed for a possible matchup with the Bulls.
And the dream finish, still barely possible, involves the Knicks winning out and the Orlando Magic losing their remaining two games, pushing the Knicks up to sixth and a date with the less-celebrated Indiana Pacers. The Knicks have won two of three games against the Pacers this season.
“We’re not talking about it too much, because we’re not sure who we’re going to face,” Amar’e Stoudemire said.
To rise to the sixth seed, the Knicks would need the Charlotte Bobcats, currently the worst team in N.B.A. history win percentage-wise, and losers of 21 in a row, to beat the Magic on Wednesday night.
“We can’t depend on Charlotte to win,” Stoudemire said.
Howard Beck contributed reporting
Howard Beck contributed reporting