The agent for New York Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni says the specter of a new team president with Donnie Walsh being reduced to a consultant does not change D'Antoni's desire to coach the team next season.
"This is the team Mike wants to coach," said his agent, Warren LeGarie. "He spent two years putting it in position not only to have a winning record but a playoff appearance. This is where he'd like to continue to coach as long as they want him."
D'Antoni should find out just how committed the Knicks are to him fairly soon. He is entering the final year of a four-year contract that will pay him $6 million next season. Talk of extensions or contracts for anyone else in the organization were put on hold until Walsh's future was resolved.
Walsh, sources said, thought he had an oral agreement with Knicks owner James Dolan on a two-year extension that spelled out his level of authority, but when he received the actual written contract there was an addendum that undercut that authority. Apparently after several weeks of trying to get Dolan to remove the addendum, Walsh decided last night to relinquish his interest in remaining as team president, sources said.
Speculation from other team general managers is that Creative Artists Agency, which represents recently acquired superstar Carmelo Anthony as well as assistant general manager Allan Houston and consultant Mark Warkentien, will exert influence not only on who the Knicks hire to replace Walsh, but also whether D'Antoni is the Knicks coach beyond next season.
Former Knicks coach and team president Isiah Thomas, now the coach at Florida International, has strong ties with CAA, but Thomas told ESPNNewYork.com that he has no interest in replacing Walsh.
One source said that CAA officials were not happy with how Walsh and D'Antoni handled another one of their clients, Eddy Curry, before he was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves as part of the February deal that brought Anthony to New York.
Ric Bucher covers the NBA for ESPN The Magazine.