With the NBA draft set to begin Thursday, all eyes will turn to the Knicks, whose first-round pick will be handled by outgoing general manager Donnie Walsh.
Given that Walsh has spent much of the last three years battling for authority with the team's owner, James Dolan, and his ex-GM and good buddy-turned-unofficial consultant, Isiah Thomas, there's a lot of speculation about what the team will do. Fortunately, The Wall Street Journal has obtained an exclusive audiotape of what is almost certainly (not) a pre-draft strategy session involving the team's brain trust: Walsh, head coach Mike D'Antoni, assistant GM Glen Grunwald (who becomes interim GM on July 1), Dolan and Thomas. Here's the transcript:
Walsh: Gentlemen, let me start by saying it's been a pleasure working with you. And since this is my last-ever draft for the New York Knicks, let's get it right.
Dolan: Donnie, it's been great having you here, really....(loud piano chords) Sorry, Don Henley's here tuning my keyboard...Let me just shut the studio door (door closing).
Walsh: OK, so let's say Klay Thompson's gone at No. 17 and Marshon Brooks and Nikola Vucevic are still on the board. We've got an interesting debate here. Vucevic is a legit seven-footer and he's got the three years at USC.
D'Antoni: Brooks is a scorer. I like how long he is and he wasn't having any trouble creating his own shots at Monday's workout.
Thomas: I don't know about him. I don't like his, uh, intangibles.
Dolan: Wait, what are you saying, Isiah? Intangibles?
Thomas: Yeah, intangibles. Things that are, you know, not tangible. Everyone knows you can't draft a player without intangibles.
Walsh (muttering): Are those Renaldo Balkman intangibles, Eddy Curry intangibles or Jerome James intangibles?
Thomas: How about Kenneth Faried, the kid who rebounds?
Walsh: Thanks, Isiah, but he's 6-foot-8 and an undersized four. That's the one position we don't need to fill. Now, I don't know that Colorado's Alec Burks gets past Indy…
Dolan: Hold on, keep talking, Isiah.
Thomas: Well, this kid Faried's defense...
D'Antoni: Defense?! I need a kid who can shoot threes. The one thing we need for my system to work is solid, dependable perimeter shooting.
Walsh: OK, well, do we want to re-open the conversation about buying up and getting Jimmer Fredette?
D'Antoni: Obviously, I love how tough the kid is. But with Carmelo and Amar'e, we can't really run plays for him. Are we sure he can spot up and shoot well enough to justify that?
Woman's voice: Please hold for LaLa Vasquez.
Walsh: Carmelo's wife. On the draft call. Of course.
Dolan: Oh, yeah… Guys, she had some thoughts about two-guards who might…
Vasquez: Jimmy! Mmmmwah. Love, you baby. Now you said this is gonna be real in-depth, so I had my girl out in Brooklyn do star charts on all the guards.
Thomas: Right on.
Walsh: OK, back to the pick for a minute. If Burks is out and Thompson's out, do we like Brooks and Vucevic? Do we want to throw Iman Shumpert in there?
D'Antoni: Shumpert's strong on the perimeter and he has a helluva vertical.
Thomas: But does he have intangibles? I don't think so.
LaLa: Yeah, he's a Cancer. I don't know.
D'Antoni: Donnie, Brooks might be the better scorer, but with Chauncey Billups turning 35 in September, I'm thinking Shumpert at point guard might be smarter.
Dolan: Hey, can you believe Prokhorov once said he didn't know where his yacht was? What a poser.
Thomas: Jim, did you see how I said all those great things about LeBron to that DC radio station? I'm telling you, I can land him.
Dolan: Wait, you think so, Isiah?
Thomas: Oh yeah, he's not happy in Miami. He thinks D-Wade's a ball hog. And we're tight.
Dolan: Keep working on that… Hey, do you remember how David Stern said we weren't a 'model of intelligent management?' That's the kind of thinking that… (Click).
Dolan: What was that?
Grunwald: I think Donnie hung up.