Knicks GM not worried about contract

Updated: February 3, 2011, 9:10 PM ET
By Ian Begley | Special to ESPNNewYork.com

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Knicks president and general manager Donnie Walsh insists that he hasn't had "any problems" with team owner James Dolan and that he isn't concerned about his looming contract option for next season that has yet to be picked up by the owner.

Walsh signed a three-year contract with a team option for a fourth year prior to the 2008-2009 season. Dolan has until April 30 -- or two weeks afer the regular season ends -- to trigger an option for the fourth year of the contract. If not, Walsh's contract expires on June 30.

According to a Yahoo! Sports report, Dolan isn't sure that he wants Walsh to return for the 2011-2012 season. Walsh said on Thursday that he's "embarrassed" by the speculation.

"I don't believe any of it. For one reason: The one thing I do know about Jim Dolan, he's honest. So I don't believe any of this stuff," Walsh said in response to questions about the report.

Walsh, 69, said he hasn't spent time thinking about the contract option because he is focused on the Knicks, who are in sixth place in the Eastern Conference at 25-23 and three games ahead of the seventh-place Philadelphia 76ers, whom New York plays on the road Friday night.

"I really haven't given it a lot of thought because it's not the time to give it thought," Walsh said. "I do have an option but it's two months from now, three months from now. I don't think it's a time when I would expect an owner or myself to be even thinking about it."

Coach Mike D'Antoni, who has said Walsh is one of the reasons he came to New York, said Walsh "is great, no doubt about it," but wouldn't get into the contract issue.

"That's something that he'll take care of and management will take care of, and then it'll work its way out," D'Antoni said. "I've got so many other problems. I need to worry about the rebounding and stuff like that."

Walsh's goal when he took over the Knicks was to clear cap space for the two season prior to summer 2010 to make a run at the premier free agents testing the market. Walsh whiffed on LeBron James and Chris Bosh but landed Amare Stoudemire, who has led the team to a resurgence.

"I think as far as position, it's exactly where I want to be," Walsh said. "I thought we could get the team and start rebuilding it in the third year and we've done that, and I see a future with this team."

Walsh said he would "like" the opportunity to finish what he's started at the Garden, but added "it's not as important as [it was] when I was 40. In other words, there will be a life after this."

Walsh was away from the team for two weeks earlier this season after undergoing hip-replacement surgery. Walsh also had neck surgery to remove bone spurs last June, prior to the NBA draft. He uses a walker to get around. Walsh's health troubles have led to speculation that he can't handle the day-to-day operations of the Knicks.

Also fueling that speculation was ex-Knicks GM and coach Isiah Thomas, who told ESPNNewYork.com in November that he wanted to run the team again someday. Thomas' comments led some to assume that Dolan was going to rehire Thomas and Walsh's job was in danger. The Yahoo! Sports report states that Dolan no longer wishes to hire Thomas, but also is unsure about bringing back Walsh.

Walsh insisted that he doesn't spend time thinking about his status with the team for next season.

"I really don't and I'm embarrassed by all this when people start bringing it up," he said. "Because it's the last thing in the world that I want. If I'm going to leave here tomorrow I want to leave with dignity."

Walsh said Thursday that he and Dolan haven't spoken recently, but Dolan has been honest with him throughout his tenure with the Knicks. He added that he's never heard from anyone in the organization that the Knicks need to make the playoffs for Dolan to pick up the option.

"The owner's always been forthright with me and talked to me," Walsh said. "I haven't had any problems with him as a person; I like him. So I don't get all of this."

Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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