Those of you who have been following the “Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks” saga closely know that owner James Dolan has jumped into the negotiations with both feet, and some sources are reporting that disgraced former GM Isiah Thomas has the owner’s ear. Ken Berger summarizes the impact that this has had on the negotiations:
The Knicks’ willingness to part with three starting players — Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari and Raymond Felton — plus Eddy Curry’s expiring contract and a first-round pick from another team, marked a significant departure from the patient strategy employed by team president Donnie Walsh. And sources told CBSSports.com Saturday that the involvement of Dolan, leaning on the advice of former team president Isiah Thomas, could call into question Walsh’s willingness to remain with the team beyond this season…..
Walsh and coach Mike D’Antoni are opposed to giving up multiple starters for Anthony, knowing they can get him as a free agent. That option, or negotiating a more reasonable trade without having to compete with New Jersey’s better offer, would have given Walsh more flexibility to build around Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire.
“If they give up Wilson Chandler and Gallo, they’re basically giving up the farm,” one person connected to the talks said. “Melo, Amar’e and throw-ins — you’re not going to win in the East that way.”
The Knicks had all of the leverage in the negotiations, as it seemed clear that the Nuggets had few options and that Carmelo was not willing to sign an extension in New Jersey. Instead of using that leverage and pushing this matter all the way to the deadline, at which point the Nuggets may have been forced to take a subpar deal, James Dolan jumped in and destroyed his GM’s carefully constructed bargaining position. He sweetened the Knicks’ offer well before it was necessary to do so, and has put the Nuggets back in the drivers seat by allowing them to shop the Knicks offer and request more as the deadline approaches. Dolan’s involvement has clearly made things more difficult for the Knicks in this process.
The lesson that the Yankees can learn from this debacle is obvious. This offseason, ownership meddled in baseball operations for the first time since the A-Rod contract, and it resulted in a exorbitant 3 year deal for a reliever. The move seemed to have been made largely out of the wish to salvage the offseason, which is always a dangerous path to take when making baseball ops decisions. While the deal represents just one overruling of Cashman and there is nothing to suggest that it will happen again, I have to imagine that the Soriano deal has placed the Yankee front office on a very slippery slope. When you give the Randy Levines and Hank Steinbrenners of the world a taste of the GM’s duties, you risk them attempting to repeat the same gambit the next time an offseason begins to look poor. While I am sure they are all excellent business minds and intelligent human beings, that does not qualify them to be making baseball decisions. The Yankees experienced a lot of dysfunction in the middle of the last decade due to decision-making factions in the front office, and heading back in that direction would be a terrible mistake.
The NBA is a bit different than MLB, in that the salary cap dictates that one or two missteps can alter the course of a NBA franchise for many years. As such, Dolan pushing himself into the Carmelo Anthony trade talks will likely have a greater impact than any single move the Yankee front office makes can have. But the general point remains the same: ownership meddling in team building operations is rarely a good thing, and should be avoided at all costs.
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