Donnie Walsh talks about Isiah Thomas

Updated: February 23, 2011, 7:33 AM ET
By Chris Sheridan | ESPN.com

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Donnie Walsh said he "could care less" that Isiah Thomas was involved in some of the behind-the-scenes maneuvering to acquire Carmelo Anthony.

As for his own uncertain future, Walsh claimed he hasn't given it a moment of thought.

Walsh met with the media Tuesday afternoon as the New York Knicks, Denver Nuggets and Minnesota Timberwolves prepared to phone their 13-player megadeal into the league office, the holdup coming as the teams waited for Anthony to sign his contract extension before the trade call could proceed.

The team president of the Knicks was in understandably good spirits after finally fulfilling his 2½-year quest to bring two superstars to New York, good enough, in fact, to take a bit of a shot at Thomas, the man he replaced at the helm of the franchise but who continues to stay in communication with team owner James Dolan.

"I can care less. There are a lot of people talking to [Dolan]. I could care less," Walsh said of Thomas, the head coach at Florida International University whose team is sporting a 9-17 record. "I'm assuming Isiah is getting ready for the NCAA tournament, that's what I'm assuming."

Thomas would not address whether he talked with Dolan during the process of acquiring Anthony.

"I have no comment on any of that," Thomas said, according to the New York Times.

A league source told ESPN.com that the final sticking point in the trade, which was agreed to late Monday night, was the final destination for Corey Brewer, who is being dealt by the Timberwolves to New York. The Nuggets wanted Brewer, but the Knicks wanted him, too, and made a successful argument that since they were relinquishing the final piece of the puzzle that Denver wanted -- center Timofey Mozgov -- fairness dictated that the Knicks receive the player Minnesota was trading away.

The deal sends Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Brewer, Anthony Carter, Renaldo Balkman and Shelden Williams to New York, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Mozgov, Raymond Felton and cash to Denver, and Anthony Randolph, Eddy Curry and cash to Minnesota. Denver also receives two second-round draft picks (originally belonging to Golden State) from New York, the Knicks' 2014 first-round draft pick and Minnesota's Kosta Koufos. The Timberwolves acquired a future second-round draft selection from the Nuggets.

"There's no doubt in my mind we have more talent today than we did yesterday," coach Mike D'Antoni said, dismissing suggestions that Anthony and Amare Stoudemire were ill-suited to play alongside one another. "When Earl Monroe came in, didn't they say he couldn't play with those guys?"

Said Walsh: "These are the kinds of guys that are very difficult to get, guys that can get you 30-40 points in a playoff game."

The trade capped a whirlwind five-day period for the Knicks (not to mention a season in which the possibility of acquiring Anthony was an ever-present, unceasing storyline) in which they upped their original offer by including Gallinari, then yielded to Denver's subsequent demand for Mozgov.

"All of the players were difficult to give up. [Mozgov] was the last of them, and it came down to a question of how much do you want Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups, and we did, and we're a better franchise because of that," Walsh said.

Dolan was as involved as he has ever been in a Knicks trade, flying to Los Angeles to meet with Anthony in person last Thursday night, communicating with Nuggets owner Josh Kroenke and speaking daily with Walsh and D'Antoni as the parameters of the deal evolved.

"It was great, to be honest," Walsh said of his interactions with Dolan. "There was a lot of interplay -- he was telling me what was going on, I was telling him what I heard was going on. My job is to advise him, to tell him whether this is good for your franchise, and I did."

Walsh said as the trade deadline drew nearer, he became convinced that Anthony's No. 1 priority would be to put a signature on the contract extension he had been refusing to sign all season, rather than opting out of his current contract and taking a multi-million dollar risk by entering free agency in a summer when the league's labor uncertainty could produce a lockout and/or a substantial change in the salary structure available to unrestricted free agents.

Walsh said he became increasingly convinced that Anthony's desire to insure his future income would eventually outweigh all other factors, which contributed to the Knicks' decision to include extra players in the trade.

"I wasn't necessarily thinking New Jersey, I was thinking more he's going to be off the [free-agent] market," Walsh said. "I think if he could sign an extension, that's what he was going to do. He wasn't going to make it to be a free agent."

Walsh emphasized that one of the upsides of the trade was New York retaining substantial salary cap space for the summer of 2012, when Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Dwight Howard and others could become unrestricted free agents. Billups and his $14 million salary for 2011-12 will come off the books after next season, leaving open the possibility -- if the new collective bargaining rules allow for it -- that a third superstar could be brought aboard two summers from now.

"When you go out hunting, would you rather have a bigger gun or a little gun? We got a bigger gun, so I feel a little better," D'Antoni said. "You just try to get it done, but if that bear is going to eat you, he's going to eat you."

Walsh is under contract for one more season, as is D'Antoni, but Walsh's deal includes a team option that must be picked up by April 30.

And with Thomas still having Dolan's ear, and with speculation rampant that Walsh's authority had been undermined during this process, the question had to be asked whether he was concerned about his own security in hanging onto the job he took on nearly three years ago.

"I haven't even thought about my future. I don't think it's time to think about my future," Walsh said. "You guys are making more out of it than I'm making out of it."

Chris Sheridan covers the NBA for ESPN.com and is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.

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