This summer, the New York Knicks have done just about everything they could to improve their franchise from the recent woes that they have experienced. In fact, they have done just about everything right. Yes, they missed out on the trio of players that eventually joined forces in South Beach but they gained serious talent in areas where they were lacking, which was everywhere except at the wing positions. Though they had to trade David Lee, their most consistent player over the past five seasons, they were able to replace him with the likes of Amar’e Stoudemire. The team is hoping that Stoudemire will be able to carry the team offensively, however, it is very unlikely that he will be the consistent double-double threat that Lee was due to his lax rebounding habits. To their roster, the Knicks have also added notable players such as Anthony Randolph and Raymond Felton. Clearly this team has its eyes set on building a strong foundation for future success. This foundation that was built this summer makes it all the more puzzling why the Knicks have done what they just did.
It was announced Friday that former coach and general manager, Isiah Thomas, will return to the Knicks’ staff as a consultant. If one is prone to believing that Thomas played a role in convincing Stoudemire to join the team this summer then this appears to look like a good move. Of course those looking at this situation in a positive light are wearing 3D glasses over their beer goggles. You could hear Spike Lee’s jaw drop in shock and disgust all the way in Sumatra after the announcement was made. What is more interesting is that Thomas will retain his coaching job at Florida International. Apparently there was little to no concern over the fact that the NCAA Men’s Basketball season overlaps much of the NBA regular season. Last season FIU finished with a 7-25 record (4-14 in Sun Belt Conference play) so it seems that Thomas would be free to focus on his consulting position with the Knicks come March as the University of North Texas and Western Kentucky have represented the conference in “the Dance” over past several years. Yet, is that really what the Knicks want, for Thomas to have more free time to spend “consulting” for them? This is still the same Isiah Thomas that helped turn the Knickerbockers into a franchise in disrepair.
Eddy Curry is likely to be one of the few people that are thrilled about having Thomas back with the organization. For Curry it means that his court troubles will become forgotten in the public eye as Thomas will garner all the attention again. Plus, Curry’s mouth is watering, like it does when he thinks about hamburgers and shakes with a Papaya King hotdog as desert, at the prospect of Thomas throwing obscene gobs of money at him again. The end goal for Thomas is to return to a general manager position in the NBA. Hold on to your dreams (and fries), Eddy. They may come true sooner than you think.
Certainly, female staffers with the Knicks have to be taken aback by Thomas’ return to the team. Maybe the terms of the agreement stipulate that he must stay in Florida as part of a semi-restraining order imposed by the women of New York City? Who knows?
Women employed by the Knicks are not the only people who could be turned off by this move. The names of Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony have been on the tongues of Knicks fans as well as both print, digital, and televised media this summer. Paul, in a hissy-fit, demanded a trade from New Orleans and New York was on his short list of desirable destinations. Anthony becomes a free agent next summer, if he does not sign a contract extension with Denver, and the Knicks have already been preparing to have the necessary cap room available to pursue Anthony next summer. Now, here comes Isiah. His history with the organization will undoubtedly put a bad taste in the mouth of any potential free agents and players in general. Both Paul and Anthony will think twice about heading to the Big Apple if Isiah is lingering in the wings.
Before things progress any farther, however, take a deep breath Knicks fans. The NBA has yet to approve the role that Thomas would play with the team. In order for Thomas to become a consultant with the Knicks he would have to break several league rules. NBA rules stipulate that no team personnel are allowed to engage in the scouting of high school players as per the NBA’s age limit. This would prove to be a difficult task for Thomas as he is a coach at a college and therefore must recruit high school players. Further, there is also to be no contact with draft eligible collegiate players by a member of an NBA team. Thomas will coach such players at FIU. This hinges on the level of the Toronto Raptors’ stupidity when they tried to acquire Matt Barnes without the necessary cap room to do so. Yet, it looks as though Thomas will become a member of the Knicks’ staff once more.
His role with the team will be to help Donnie Walsh make decisions (cannot write that word anymore without the one hour special brought to us by Vitamin Water popping into my head) on draft picks, trades, and personnel. Really? Really!? This is who they want advising them on such matters? Have they forgotten when the big names on the roster were the aforementioned Curry, Stephon Marbury, Jerome James, Zach Randolph, Anfernee Hardaway, Quentin Richardson, and Kelvin Cato? All of these players were acquired by Thomas.
Donnie Walsh and the organization must have a flare for masochism or at the very least a short memory. Thomas presided as president and coach over some of the worst years an NBA franchise has endured. He took the once great Mecca of Madison Square Garden and turned it into an empty shell where only tourists and the most dedicated Knicks fans dared go. Abysmal seems like too kind of a word to use when describing Thomas’ previous tenure with the team. New York, outside of Indiana is the capital of basketball but now it seems like the cruelest joke played on a city in recent basketball history is about to repeat itself. Unfortunately, all of this summer’s moves will be overshadowed by the protracted hangover that is Isiah Thomas.