Other than the fact I’m quoting Yahoo’s Adrain Wonarowski, let’s consider the above headline for a moment. That Isiah Thomas might be considered a backstabber should shock no one — that he’s enough of a survivor to still have James Dolan’s ear, to the extent the Knicks owner might trash Donnie Walsh to the team president’s less successful predecessor, is a pretty huge sign of disrespect. Of Dolan’s stringing the ailing/possibly lame-duck Walsh along, while allowing any hint Thomas might have a role in Knicks affairs, paid or not, the Cablevision heir is charged with having “a sad, petty obsession with playing the part of the dolt contrarian.”
Several executives and agents believe the Knicks’ hiring of former Denver Nuggets executive Mark Warkentien as a top consultant was made at a level above Walsh. Walsh likes Warkentien, respects his acumen, his talent, but he’s had chances to hire Warkentien in the past and never did. Why now? Well, Warkentien changed representation to CAA – home of dealmaker William Wesley, the famous Worldwide Wes – and clearly Knicks ownership wants to do business with Wes. His agency has Carmelo Anthony(notes) and Chris Paul(notes) as clients, and those are the Knicks’ top targets in the short and long term. How much Wesley can do to deliver those players is much in doubt, except to the fool owners who buy into the belief he can do so all by himself.
Outside of using Wesley to help him reach the mercurial Eddy Curry(notes), Walsh has never courted him. He doesn’t want to cut deals with him, hire his coaching clients or grease him for free agents. Walsh is old-school this way, maybe a traditionalist, but he actually believes you’re supposed to follow the NBA’s rules on tampering. If those rules say you can’t talk to a rep about LeBron James(notes) until he’s a free agent, well, you don’t do it.
As it turns out, Dolan and his corporate minions are a much easier target for CAA than Walsh. That’s why they’d prefer to go through assistant general manager Allan Houston(notes), a longtime family friend of Wesley’s. They go back to their Louisville days, where Houston’s father, Wade, was an assistant coach and star player Milt Wagner was Wes’ childhood pal. Houston had used a rival coaching agent of Wesley’s, but left the agent before Houston needed a new contract negotiated this summer. If Houston has signed with CAA, it’s still a mystery. It almost doesn’t matter. Wes has his fingerprints all over him.