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Achieving Zen With Donnie Walsh

Why Rodger Sherman is curiously at ease with the Knicks' impeding free agency doom, or lack thereof.

It's the 2010 Free Agent period, and, well, I'm oddly at peace with the New York Knickerbockers. (Thanks to Seth over at Posting and Toasting for reminding me that "zen" was exactly the word I was looking for to describe my Empire New York Knicks state of mind.

Two years ago, I was a mentally tattered Knicks fan. If Isiah Thomas had a plan, he didn't execute it. He subscribed to the "trade away future assets to win now" camp of general managership, except without the whole "winning now" thing, as the Knicks slogged along, allowing me to watch enough Mardy Collins basketball to last a millenium. (Recommended Mardy Collins viewing time per millenium: 28 minutes.)

And in two years, Donnie Walsh and co. have more or less erased that. He took a team of bloated contracts and sub-par talent, and, like a salary cap MacGyver, manufactured a roster that somehow could plausibly land one of the biggest free agents possible. To me from two years ago, this seems implausible. For about half a decade, the Knicks were perennially the team with the league's largest salary. Year after year, the CBA mandated we could essentially only sign free agents if they were rookies, at the veterans minimum or mid-level exception. (See: Jared Jeffries, Jerome James.) That's OK if you're a contender. But if you win 23 games, your team needs a roster overhaul, and that's not something you can do when your players' contracts are too burdensome to trade, and you can only sign minimum contract players, rookies, and Jerome James. (Sorry, Jerome.)

But he did it. Unlike Knicks' GMs of yore, Walsh developed a long-term plan - CUT. SALARIES. FAST. - and, for the most part, executed it. With the exceptions of Wilson Chandler, David Lee and Eddy Curry, no players were left on the roster from when he took over at the end of last season, and with the exception of the Nate Robinson-Bill Walker trade, no moves were made for any reason other than to cut cap space. (That trade, with Robinson's salary coming off the books this summer anyway, appears to have legitimately been made for basketball purposes.)

And now, the Knicks sit with the most cap space in the league.

Maybe New York will sign LeBron, maybe they won't. Maybe they'll land some other free agent. Maybe they won't. Whether that happens or whether it doesn't is completely out of Walsh's hands. That's up to one very talented 25-year-old. But Walsh did everything in his power to make that a possibility.

I'll start thinking in basketball terms when the dominoes start to fall into place and I can begin wondering what all this means in terms of the Knicks actually re-entering status as a relevant organization. But as of now, I'll just be pleasantly relaxed. I'm only 20, but I was starting to worry I wouldn't see a competent Knicks general manager in my lifetime.