Knicks hire Grunwald as general manager

NEW YORK — The New York Knicks promoted Glen Grunwald to executive vice president and general manager on Tuesday after he assembled numerous pieces of a playoff roster this season.

Grunwald has been serving on an interim basis since July, after Donnie Walsh opted not to return. He acquired center Tyson Chandler before the season to become the defensive presence the team long lacked, and signed key players such as Jeremy Lin, Baron Davis, Steve Novak and JR Smith along the way.

“Glen has done a terrific job this season,” Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan said in a statement. “He is an intelligent, seasoned executive and we look forward to him continuing in the role of general manager for many years to come.”

The Knicks went into Tuesday still with hopes of finishing sixth in the Eastern Conference, despite a tumultuous season that saw coach Mike D’Antoni resign in March.

Walsh made the two big moves that finally got the Knicks back to the playoffs last season, signing Amare Stoudemire in July 2010 and trading for Carmelo Anthony last February. But the work for rounding out the roster fell to Grunwald after Dolan and Walsh couldn’t agree on a contract extension in June.

Grunwald’s first big move surprised many around the NBA. Even Chandler was stunned when the Knicks, despite salary constraints, emerged as a suitor for him when the lockout ended. Grunwald made room for the former Dallas center by taking advantage of the new amnesty clause to waive veteran point guard Chauncey Billups so his salary wouldn’t count against the salary cap, and Chandler has helped the Knicks become a solid defensive club after they had been among the league’s worst for years.

Lin had already been waived by two teams this season when Grunwald claimed him off waivers, and the undrafted guard from Harvard turned the Knicks’ season around with a brilliant stretch in February.

Davis has become the starter since Lin was lost to knee surgery, and Novak and Smith have provided strong 3-point shooting off the bench.

Grunwald spent a decade with the Toronto Raptors, including seven years as their GM, before joining former Indiana University teammate Isiah Thomas in New York as the Knicks’ senior vice president of basketball operations on Sept. 6, 2006. He remained with the organization after Thomas was replaced by Walsh two years later and was a valuable member of the front office when Walsh battled some health problems.

“It has been a great honor to be a part of this storied franchise for the past six seasons,” Grunwald said. “I would like to thank Mr. Dolan for this opportunity and look forward to building on our commitment to give our fans a team that they can be proud of today, and in the future.”

Grunwald’s return could strengthen interim coach Mike Woodson’s hopes of returning. The Knicks are 16-6 since Woodson — also a college teammate of Grunwald and Thomas — replaced D’Antoni on March 24 when the team was 18-24.

Anthony told reporters Tuesday he would like Woodson to return.

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