If the get-the-fuck-out-of-the-way defense wasn’t infectious enough in the Association, witness the commentary that accompanied Emaka Okafor’s all-too-easy dunk on the Raptors (video link culled from True Hoop). I can’t speak with authority about the merits or lack thereof concerning “Canadian Ketchup”, but can promise all worried readers that Heinz products in the United Kingdom are more than up to your exacting standards.
While the Daily News’ Frank Isola seems to have abandoned his blog since the initial word of Donnie Walsh’s deal with the Knicks was leaked, Newsday’s Alan Hahn looks forward to the Indy exec’s arrival (“Perhaps if the Pacers have a pregame ceremony to honor Donnie Walsh and bid him adieu, Isiah Thomas can take part by bringing the keys to the Knick franchise to center court and handing them over to Walsh. Make it official and watch on the monitor as a camera perched atop the Empire State Building captures that black cloud as it suddenly drifts away from Madison Square Garden.”), and attempts to predict whom Walsh will appoint as his first head coach and general manager.
Swashbuckling Scott Skiles might be the right man for New York (is there anyone more New York than him?), but that might be too extreme of a change from the player-friendly Thomas. Mark Jackson would be an intriguing situation, but with no track record you are taking a gamble and is this franchise in a position to take gambles on anything? At least with Tom Thibodeau, another candidate who has never been an NBA head coach, he has a wealth of experience on an NBA bench. And he might have a ring after this season in Boston.
You might expect the 67-year-old Walsh will hire a No. 2 man, a general manager or basketball operations guy to handle scouting, the draft and the capology. I’ve mentioned Mark Warkentien, the Denver executive, several times in recent stories because after doing some homework on the man, aside from being one of Walsh’s friends, he’s a winner. If the Nugs make the playoffs, that will make it 15 times out of 17 NBA seasons the team Warkentien works for has reached the post-season. He has made four stops around the league — Seattle, Portland, Cleveland and Denver — and has been never been part of a losing team.
Another guy I’ve had my eye on is Kevin Pritchard in Portland. Now I’m not sure if Paul Allen would let him go, but Pritchard is another who has shown the ability to rebuild quickly and efficiently and have success in changing the culture of a troubled franchise by bringing in good people and making smart, though difficult, personnel decisions. Pritchard also knows what it’s like to deal on a daily basis with a billionaire owner who likes to be in on everything that goes on with his basketball team. He is, those close to him say, obsessed with the job.
And Billy King, of course, is very much on the list. As Ken Berger wrote in his Sunday column, King has ties to Walsh and though he was fired by the 76ers early this season, he put together the roster that now has Philly locked into a playoff spot and a winning record. He probably has the inside track more than the other two I mentioned because, as Berger wrote, he is not only tight with Walsh, he is tight with Garden president Steve Mills.