SBD/February 9, 2011/Franchises

Franchise Notes

Donnie Walsh has been with Knicks since April '08
In N.Y., Marc Berman cites a source as saying that NBA Commissioner David Stern “has worked quietly behind the scenes to have Knicks owner James Dolan bring back” President of Basketball Operations Donnie Walsh to finish out the final year of his contract. An NBA spokesperson yesterday said that Stern “would not comment, that the commissioner would invoke the ‘commissioner-owner’ privilege on inquiries about his conversations with league owners.” Berman writes it is “no surprise Stern has lobbied Dolan to stay the course with Walsh, who executed his plan of getting under the salary cap last summer, has put the Knicks into playoff position in his third season, and has them on track to be under the salary cap this summer and next.” Meanwhile, sources said that Florida Int'l Univ. men's basketball coach Isiah Thomas is “consulting with Dolan unofficially on Knicks matters," including trade negotiations for Nuggets F Carmelo Anthony (N.Y. POST, 2/9).

IT'S MY LIFE: Singer Jon Bon Jovi yesterday confirmed that he has “been in confidential negotiations” with Falcons Owner Arthur Blank about acquiring a 15% stake in the team and “reinforced a clearly stated desire to be a member of NFL ownership.” NFL sources said that Bon Jovi’s “proposed investment of as much as a 15 percentage stake and $150 million is not to be dismissed.” Bon Jovi said the Falcons approached him “some months ago.” He acknowledged, however, that “talks have stalled" or are possibly awaiting a decision (ESPN.com, 2/8).

LIGHTNING FAST: In Buffalo, Bucky Gleason notes in “less than a year new ownership and major changes in upper management helped turn a poor Lightning team headed nowhere into a contender in the Eastern Conference.” Owner Jeff Vinik took over March 3, and the “turnaround began in May, when Vinik hired Steve Yzerman as general manager.” Gleason writes, “What the Bolts landed in Vinik was a man committed to winning. What Vinik landed in Yzerman was a bright and aggressive general manager who took a proactive approach without killing payroll.” Vinik has “endeared himself to the community with $10 million in donations to local charities,” and also is “pumping another $35 million" into St. Pete Times Forum (BUFFALO NEWS, 2/9).

MARCHING ORDERS: In DC, Dan Steinberg noted MLS DC United this week began a Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority marketing campaign, “starting with ads in more than a dozen Metro stations, and eventually spreading to bus shelters and Metro buses.” It is the “first major outdoor campaign the club has done in several years.” The campaign is centered around coach Ben Olsen, asking fans to “join Olsen’s Army.” It is “meant to help reconnect the community to a young roster with lots of potential but few household names” (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 2/8).

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