Grunwald’s Previous Record Not Impressive

Earlier today, the New York Knicks hired Glen Grunwald as Vice President to assist Isiah Thomas in the front office. With Zeke pulling double duty this year as coach & general manager it’s no secret that the Knicks were looking for help, and Grunwald’s ties to Isiah made him the front runner. Unfortunately Grunwald’s track record leaves a lot to be desired.

Grunwald’s fans and family members (which might be one and the same) would argue that he took over a 16 win team and in 2 years had them in the playoffs. His best moves in Toronto were made through the draft as he grabbed both Vince Carter and Chris Bosh. Meanwhile some Knick fans might remember Grunwald as the architect behind the 2001 team that ousted them in the playoffs. However his win-now strategy left the Raptors in disarray, and within 2 years the team was back among the league’s worst. By the time Toronto fired him, the team had the 3rd worst record in the league.

The Toronto GM squandered his young talent in favor of fading veterans. Grunwald let future perennial All Star Tracy McGrady walk on a sign and trade, and he traded a 24 year old Marcus Camby for a 35 year old Charles Oakley. Hakeem Olajuwon, Kevin Willis, Dell Curry, Muggsy Bogues, Dee Brown, and Mark Jackson would have made a decent team in the mid-90s. But under Grunwald the Raptors acquired these 30-something players to form an NBA old-age home. It seemed that he insisted on surrounding Vince Carter with any veterans instead of veteran talent.

So far the organization is tight lipped on Grunwald’s duties. Most likely Glen will man the store while Isiah works on the Xs & Os, but Thomas will have the final say on any deal. Knick fans should be fearful of Grunwald’s spendthrift past, but his draft picks show him to be a good evaluator of young talent. If Thomas can keep Grunwald scouring for cheap young talent and away from pricey geriatrics, the signing could be fruitful. Of course the same could be said of Isiah Thomas as well.

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Mike Kurylo

Mike Kurylo is the founder and editor of His book on the 2012 Knicks, "We’ll Always Have Linsanity," is on sale now. Follow him on twitter (@KnickerBlogger).

15 thoughts to “Grunwald’s Previous Record Not Impressive”

  1. It really is astonishing of how similar the two men are.

    What I don’t get is, is the lure of the NBA so great that Grunwald would really give up a job just for a one-year committment?

    I guess it’s similar to the producer character in Entourage, it drives people nuts to only be remembered for your latest results (in Grunwald’s case, it was failure), so Grunwald wants a shot to reverse what people think of him.

    I just fear (for him) that it is not going to work out that way.

  2. The hits just keep on coming!

    No discussion of Grunwald draft picks is complete without mention of Aleksandar Radojevic with the 12th pick overall in 1999. A pick he traded Chauncey Billups to get.

    So basically, we now have two talent scout GMs, neither of whom are able to make a good trade or manage cap. I feel doubly confident. ;-)

  3. Isiah and Grunwald put together (we can call the composite being Zekewald) sure do make an interesting “but then” combo, don’t they?

    “I drafted Damon Stoudemire, who won the rookie of the year!” – but then had to trade him for the remains of Kenny Anderson (not their fault, mind you, just the way the NBA system worked at the time)

    “When Kenny Anderson refused to join the team, I flipped him for a better, younger player at the same position – Chauncey Billups!” – but then traded Billups for a 12th overall pick.

    “I drafted Marcus Camby!” – but then traded him for the remains of Charles Oakley.

    “I drafted Tracy McGrady!” – but then let him sign elsewhere.

    “I swapped picks and drafted Vince Carter” – but then traded him for, in effect, 3 cents on the dollar.

    “I drafted Chris Bosh” – but then…okay, this one is still good. :)

  4. I think the question you have to ask yourself with Grunwald is how much his strategy through about 2001 was affected by the (seemingly) real threat of the Raptors not making it in Toronto.

    Certainly, in the long term, the Camby-Oakley deal was a terrible one. But Camby was very much a question mark at the time and didn’t really put it together until years later (the same is true with Billups, who was given up on by what, three teams before showing promise in Minnesota?). Oakley, along with Antonio Davis, helped Toronto win and get within a shot of the Eastern Conference Finals.

    Then Grunwald re-signed everyone, which was a disaster. Alvin Williams got way too big of a deal for a replaceable player and ended up getting hurt; Antonio Davis never really was all that good in the first place; Olajuwon was washed up; they couldn’t re-sign Keon Clark; and, of course, many questions emerged about Carter.

    But as of 2001, Carter looked like a sure Hall of Famer, and if he bolted, it seemed like a death knell for the franchise. So would it be better to have a team with more flexibility that was playing in, I dunno, New Orleans or a capped-out team still in Toronto?

    Add Morris Peterson, a very solid role player, to the list of strong Toronto picks under Grunwald. I’d also add coaching as a weakness. Regardless your opinion of a Grunwald-Thomas guy, Lenny Wilkens, Kevin O’Neill’s tenure was brief and awful.

    For the record, Carter was still on the roster when Grunwald was fired. It was Rob Babcock who dealt Carter.

  5. If I told you that the Bulls next summer will use the Knick’s pick to draft a center who will be considered the best of his generation, is that something you’d be interested in?

  6. “For the record, Carter was still on the roster when Grunwald was fired. It was Rob Babcock who dealt Carter.”

    Thanks, Kevin, that’s an important point.

  7. huh?

    It’s a parody of a character on Entourage who talks like that.

    And the reference is to the Knicks having the #1 pick in the 2007 draft due to having the worst record in the NBA, giving the Bulls the rights to the #1 pick and drafting the fellow that everybody believes is the next franchise player in the NBA, Greg Oden.

    The problem with that situation, though, is that last year’s Knicks played WELL below their talent level, and STILL didn’t get the #1 draft pick, so it’s unlikely that this year’s team will.

    So the Bulls will most likely have to settle for a different lottery pick.

  8. the grunwald hiring seemed inevitable almost. even isiah’s ego wouldn’t allow him to think he could manage day-to-day coaching and management tasks.

    well, the pool of executive talent willing to work with isiah on what is potentially a one-year contract can’t be all that deep. (i’m gonna go out on a limb and suggest that there won’t be many women in said pool.)

    the interesting question–and i’m not sure anyone has an answer–is, to what extent does grunwald challenge isiah? is he a yes man rubber stamp, or have there been times when he has been able to reign in some of isiah’s excesses?

  9. Dave,

    The question I’d be asking is would Grunwald want to reign in Isiah’s excesses? He seems to be cut of the same gib as Isiah – overpay for mediocrity.

    I can see the two arguing over which overpaid injury prone PF they should aquire, Chris Webber or Kenyon Martin.

  10. “Zeke, Hakeem just called! He is considering a comeback!”

    “Lock and load, Glen!”

  11. “(i?m gonna go out on a limb and suggest that there won?t be many women in said pool.)”


    “I can see the two arguing over which overpaid injury prone PF they should aquire, Chris Webber or Kenyon Martin.”

    Still ROFL

    At least we still have our sense of humor. ^_^

  12. As a Raptor fan, I’ve got a few observations about GG.

    He came into his GM job like a lion and did a terrific job rebuilding a very dire situation and revitalizing a bitter fan base almost immediately. (The Raps were in the middle of 16-66, Isiah had just quit under his usual cloud of controversy and the team star D.Stoudamire had asked to be traded. It’s no understatement to call it a very bad situation). Watching that situation as a Raptor fan, making moves for immediate improvement and getting rid of some players he did were absolutely necessary during the summer of ’99.

    I agree that his biggest strength was in the draft (two all-stars in Carter & Bosh + MoPete at #21). His biggest mistake was misreading the TMac situation and then basically losing him for nothing. Obviously no team can afford to watch a young player of his ability walk for nothing. But in his defense, TMac absolutely lied about wanting to re-sign in Toronto and then bolted his first opportunity.

    GG also painted himself into a cap-corner by handing out and trading for too many unnesessarily long contracts which ultimately led to his (at the time deserved) dismissal. In the trade market he actually made a lot of solid deals that turned out very well when the team was on the rise but seemed to make too many band-aid type deals near the end of his tenure when he should have been pulling the plug and rebuilding the ship. Personally, I think that the Hakeem deal, although it didn’t ultimately work out, was a worthy risk at the time that he gets unnessarily bashed for today. Hakeem wasn’t the same guy but was still an asset during his 1 season.

    But it should also be noted he was basically working alone all those years in Toronto which made his job considerably more difficult than the average GM. Due to a tight budget by the owners, he had no assistant, no president/upper management advisor who knew basketball (only a meddling president/boss who was counterproductive) and only a small, mediocre scouting crew at his disposal. Neither of his 2 successors were not forced to work with the same bare-bones cupboard.

    All in all I think that he’s a fairly smart (but by no means exceptional) basketball man but his strengths and weaknesses might be too much of a mirror to Isiah’s for this to be a really good fit in NY.

  13. Just for accuracy, C.Billups was actually traded to Denver for the 5th overall pick in the draft not the 12th (it was subsequently traded for Antonio Davis). The 12th pick was the Raptor’s own that year.

    Billups was so awful his rookie season (and for several seasons and a several teams thereafter) that getting such a high pick for him at that time was considered a very good trade.

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