Dolan must decide on Walsh's future by April 1

I brought this up for discussion today during an appearance I did on ESPN's "Outside The Lines" regarding the Knicks' hiring of Isiah Thomas as a consultant, and it bears repeating here: Donnie Walsh's two-year honeymoon is over, and he will know before the end of the upcoming regular season whether he will be back with the New York Knicks for the 2011-12 season.

A league source told ESPN.com that Walsh's four-year contract with the Knicks as team president includes a clause designating March 31, 2011, as the day the team must decide whether it will pick up the option on Walsh's fourth year.

By then, the Knicks will be some 70 games into the 2010-11 season, and owner James Dolan will have a better idea whether he wants to continue allowing Walsh to be the architect of the franchise as it heads into a summer in which Carmelo Anthony, should he become an unrestricted free agent, will be the No. 1 player on New York's wish list.

The NBA is still reviewing the Knicks' new contract with Thomas, and colleague Ian O'Connor rightly points out that it could open a whole can of worms if Thomas is allowed to continue holding that consultant's role while simultaneously coaching Florida International University.

And if the NBA says Thomas has to walk away from one of the jobs, expect him to wave bye-bye to FIU.

Last season, when he was still being paid by New York under terms of the extension he signed in March 2007, for showing "evident progress," Thomas earned only a small salary from FIU and donated it all back to the school. In other words, he worked for free.

Now that he has a new Knicks contract (which Walsh refused to affix his signature to last week, an indication of just how perturbed he was that Dolan overruled him and kept Thomas aboard), Thomas is back in a position of power with New York because he clearly has Dolan's ear, no matter how high or low he ranks on the Knicks' front office depth chart.

And while Dolan has no designs on returning Thomas to any kind of a prominent role (whether or not Walsh stays), the owner feels Thomas has the skills set to assist in the recruiting of young free agents -- something Walsh and coach Mike D'Antoni (who also is on a four-year contract) were unable to do successfully last month when the Knicks made their ill-fated pitch to LeBron James.

So, by the time the next April Fools' Day comes around, we'll have a better idea of whether Walsh will outlast the man he replaced.