Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

“Evident Progress,” Evidently

Several media outlets are reporting that would-be bluesman and team owner James Dolan is set to announce that Isiah Thomas will return as coach and all around Grand Poobah of the New York Knickerbockers. The announcement is expected to include a multi-year contract extension.

Dolan had previously said that he would not discuss Thomas’ fate until after the season, giving the impression that his fate was tied to whether the Knicks make the playoffs. However, with the team currently holding the eighth-and-final playoff spot in the East, Dolan apparently feels that the the team has achieved the “evident progress” he specified (without actually specifying it) as a pre-condition for Thomas’ return.

Without getting into the question of whether the team’s current improvement is merely regression to the mean–let’s hold onto that question for after the season–it is clear that Dolan was predisposed to re-confirm his own decision to hire Thomas. Thus he never intended to fully specify the meaning of “evident progress,” certain that these Knicks couldn’t be worse than last year’s bunch. Nevertheless, I suspect that he must have also considered the sorry state of coaching (and executive) talent in the league. Certainly, Knicks fans needn’t be reminded that pursuing the superstar coach and/or executive is not necessarily all it’s cracked up to be. At the same time, the veteran coaches who might take the New York job without demanding the same prima donna treatment as Larry Brown, like Rick Carlisle, Doc Rivers, Terry Stotts, Mike Dunleavy, Byron Scott, etc. are themselves mostly piloting ships at various stages of submersion. Any of those coaches might improve the Knicks at the margins but none would be considered even money bets to fundamentally alter what this franchise can aspire to.

So as a fan I am not singularly happy, sad, or neutral about the prospect of Thomas returning. I am ambivalent; all of the above. On one hand, I am not jumping with glee. On the other hand, Thomas is the devil we know. Plus considering that he is now operating under a kind of fiscal austerity plan, effectively tethering him to the draft, his worst impulse–to get the most talent out of every deal regardless of fit or fiscal implication–is less openly self-destructive. Perhaps just as importantly, given the shallow pool of coaching and executive talent, the odds of Dolan being able to ferret out potential greatness or potentially fatal flaws in a pool of similar candidates are frighteningly low.

Alas, there is no great moral to the end of the Thomas tale. It’s just an ending. Sometimes that’s all you get.

59 comments on ““Evident Progress,” Evidently

  1. DMull

    Personally, I wish Dolan would have stuck to waiting until after the season. Just because we’re currently in the playoffs doesn’t mean we’re going to stay there. No need to rush into this.

    But I guess it was pretty likely that this was going to happen, whether now or at the end of the season anyway.

  2. ugh

    i knew deep down that isiah was coming back. and, to be honest, i really don’t mind him coming back as a coach.

    but for every good move he makes as a GM, he makes several horrible decisions. they’re in the position they’re in because the east is horrible. he’s good at accumulating talent, terrible at putting a team together. great.

    we had to improve. what choice did we have?

  3. jon abbey

    “On one hand, I am not jumping with glee. On the other hand, Thomas is the devil we know.”

    precisely, plus he knows the pluses and minuses of our flawed roster better than anyone else we could bring in, I think.

    I think he’s been a competent GM (and that a lot of writers owe him major apologies for the idiotic things they’ve written about him in the last year or two), and a mediocre to below average coach, but he seems to be slowly improving in the latter department.

  4. jon abbey

    also, “there is no great moral to the end of the Thomas tale. It?s just an ending. ”

    there’s no ending here yet, we’re still mid-story, Dolan just commissioned a few extra hundred pages. :)

  5. Dan Panorama

    I can’t imagine wanting anyone else right now at the GM/coach spot given the players’ loyalty to Isiah and his relative success this season, at least now that we missed out on Colangelo when he left for Toronto (who are going to be a BEAST as early as next year – that man is the best GM in the league right now, bar none).

    I think it’s fair to be a little more enthusiastic than neutral about Isiah’s performance – the team is actually improving at a steady rate (we’re the only team to improve our winning percentage every month so far), we have several players who have likely not reached their still-increasing ceiling, we have a couple of obvious but fixable holes (a shooter mostly) that can be taken care of in the offseason through the draft and/or a trade, and our players are getting better at playing as a unit with every passing game. Even Jeffries, I have to begrudgingly admit, is starting to look like the player we paid for the last few games as he better figures out his role on the team. If we add Morris Almond or Marco Belinelli or Rudy Fernandez or another NBA-ready one-dimensional sharpshooter we may make major strides next season. Overall, I’m happy with this team right now.

  6. Dan Panorama

    Oh, not to mention that for the first time in years we actually have assets with significant trade value – next year between Frye, Crawford, and Rose’s contract we could consolidate our overstocked roster and land a big player in a trade or sign-and-trade.

  7. Campa

    I was a bit frustrated by today’s news.

    First of all, I agree with DMull. Dolan should have waited until the end of the season.

    To me, Isiah is a competent coach (he got the team to play with more passion) and a mediocre to below average GM (he made some inexcusable deals).

    By giving him an extension, the Knicks are making a committment they did not need to do right now.

    It was easy to improve after such a dismal season. I’m afraid that, by having “shut up his critics”, Isiah will switch back to his former self and do something along the lines of trading David Lee and Jamal Crawford to get some injured-plagued shooter and another shoot-first point guard.

    And believe me, I hope I am wrong.

  8. jon abbey

    “Isiah will switch back to his former self and do something along the lines of trading David Lee and Jamal Crawford to get some injured-plagued shooter and another shoot-first point guard.”

    this is wildly unfair, as Isiah hasn’t traded away anyone even close to an impact player of any kind since he’s been here, and the only guy with any potential he’s dealt was Trevor Ariza, which was Larry Brown’s fault as has been previously discussed ad nauseum.

    I think you’d also be hardpressed to name said “inexcusable deals” outside of the Jerome James signing, and all that cost was money, not talent. maybe we don’t need to go through this all again, it just bugs me that the impression of Isiah the GM doesn’t jibe with the reality.

  9. Rick

    http://www.hoopshype.com/salaries/new_york.htm

    Look at that. Our beloved franchise has EIGHTY SIX MILLION DOLLARS IN GUARANTEED MONEY BOTH NEXT SEASON AND THE SEASON AFTER.

    Guess who becomes a free agent in 2010.

    Isiah is an AWFUL general manager. As a coach, it’s very difficult to quantitatively analyze the contribution he makes. Starting Jerome James? Makes no sense, but there is no evidence that prove it to be costing us wins. Letting Jamal “40% and still shootin’” Crawford jack up every big shot? Can’t be sure about that one. But when it comes to Isiah’s propensity to draft/trade for/sign players that are unbelievably similar in style and ability (Jamal, Steve, Jalen; Channing, Jeffries; Lee, Jesus Christ, etc.), there is no equal. He has give NYK fans hope in the draft (surprisingly, since he’s traded at least half of the picks in the last few years), but I have no doubt that once we get a few more expiring contracts, we will trade for a 34 year old KG or a cane-aided Tracy McGrady and the pain will return.

    For every David Lee there are three Steve Francises.

  10. Paul

    I think I’m unhappier about the fact that he’s still the GM. I don’t want to have to hold my breath everytime a Chris Webber becomes available.

    Here’s hoping he’s learned to manage his picks and contract negotiations with a view towards the future. Especially with the upcoming crop of free agents soon to be released in the next few
    years to come.

    Rick: I laughed. :P

  11. John

    I think Thomas coming back was inevitable. He’s done a solid job coaching a team that has had a mired amount of injuries from the beginning of the season. He’s had them perform and play as if they’re in a winnable game every game they play. He’s stuck to a rotation (for the most part) and gotten this team to play up to its potential. Is he a bad GM? Well no worse than a lot of guys in the L (Mchale, Bird, Ainge–the Boston guys have had some horrible choices too and they ain’t getting pillored like Zeke) Clippers GM. I mean you can really count the good GMs on one hand. As a coach, Id rank Isiah above the following:
    Brown in Cleveland
    Doc Rivers in Boston
    Hill in Orlando
    Minny’s coach
    Carlisle (who somehow gets a pass for his team’s implosions)
    Sacto’s coach
    Seattle’s coach
    Toronto’s coach (even though they are playing fantastic right now)
    NJ’s coach (even Nets fans have to admit this one)

    Great coaches in the NBA right now:
    Avery Johnson (Dallas)
    JVG (Houston)
    Phil J (Lakers-even though his team is tuning him out)
    Riles (master manipulator asshole)
    Popovich
    Skiles (takes a jump shooting team to the second round every year)
    Flop Sanders (I could coach that team to 55-60 dubs)

    and that’s it. So Zeke even with key guys out, not making excuses-except to sheild his players from the media scorn), has done a pretty good job this year. Give him his damn props. Geeeez……

  12. thepalerider

    “I don?t want to have to hold my breath everytime a Chris Webber becomes available.”

    That was really funny until it hit me that you’re right. Now I’m just sad.

  13. Brian Cronin

    Looking at the Knick salary cap, from Hoopshype, while I totally understand WHY teams backload contracts, man, it sure makes for an ugly picture, doesn’t it?

    Players getting raises as they get worse. Weird.

    Anyhow, I want to echo something Jon said, in that, let’s say we think Isiah is not a good GM (I’m pretty ambivalent to him, as well), I think it is ridiculous how sportswriters continue to write about him like he’s OBVIOUSLY an AWFUL GM. Come on, dudes, I know shorthand is the way to go in sportswriting these days, but try to put a LITTLE more effort into it!

  14. Campa

    Sorry if I went too far when I said “inexcusable”, but it’s personal. I just won’t completely forgive Isiah for the headaches that I had at last year’s draft (even though it was a weak draft, the thought of the Bulls landing the first pick made me angry).

    In fact, if we don’t get to the playoffs this year and somehow pull a Orlando-in-the-’93-draft, I mean…

    By the way, I think Eddy Curry is a fine player and I know that we might escape that deal in the right side. But the Bulls replaced Eddy with Ben Wallace, have a solid young nucleus and a couple of Knicks draft picks, so they did not threw away their future by getting rid of a promising center.

    Anyway, checking the moves Isiah has made, I could not find one that I really like. And I found some that I really dislike (the Jerome James signing, the Steve Francis trade, the Vin Baker experiment, the Jalen Rose trade).

    So if “inexcusable” was too harsh, I take it back. But I think I’ll at least stand by the “mediocre to below average GM” comment.

  15. KnicksFan49

    Campa — you left out a few other moves that should be in the really dislike category….

    1. the Jeffries signing (too much money, too useless on the offensive end)
    2. the inexplicable Rose buyout

    The problem, though, is not only the moves made, but the opportunity cost created by those moves. Had we not signed either James or Baker or Jeffries, we would have had mid-level extensions available for, I don’t know, someone who can shoot threes. I won’t go into the Francis trade (I’m willing to peg that one on Brown, but don’t forget that Thomas at the very least had a veto) but with Rose’s expiring contract and some of the pieces of value we have (e.g. frye) we could have gotten a solid sf or 2 guard. You can’t access moves only on their direct effect but also on what moves they precluded….

  16. Owen

    Numbers for Curry for the last seven games since Lee went out.

    45/93, 50 rebounds, 25 Turnovers, 18 steals, assists, and blocks.

    So field goal percentage is down markedly, but everything else pretty much the same. Its too small a sample to mean anything. Still you would think that if you took one of the best rebounders in the NBA out of the lineup, Curry’s rebound numbers might jump a bit. Yet, they are exactly on his season average.

  17. Owen

    Zorry guys, meant to post that on the other thread where I posted the newsday article.

    I would say getting Eddy Curry was the biggest bonehead move Thomas has made. But that would be beating a dead horse.

  18. T-Mart

    Not to get too far ahead of myself here, but even if we get the #8 seed in the playoffs, it’s really not doomsday like it was against the Nets in 03-04. We’ve given the Pistons fits last season and this season. Hell, even this year I’d rather face the Pistons in the playoffs then the Nets. And the Pistons are the worst possible team we could face. I like our chances against the Cavs. And the teams after that all blow, unless Dwayne Wade comes back, we match up terrible against the heat. Facing a Miami team with Dwayne Wade would probably be the worst possible scenario.

  19. jon abbey

    “checking the moves Isiah has made, I could not find one that I really like. ”

    Nazr Mohammed for Malik Rose and what turned out to be David Lee (plus another #1?)???

    Kurt Thomas for Quentin Richardson and Nate Robinson???

    pretty much every draft pick since he’s gotten here???

    come on.

  20. jon abbey

    “I won?t go into the Francis trade (I?m willing to peg that one on Brown, but don?t forget that Thomas at the very least had a veto)”

    I honestly don’t think this is true, I think this was all on Dolan and Brown, at the height of the team coming apart (with Brown constantly in Dolan’s ear bucking for the GM job and telling him how little talent was on the roster), plus the sexual harassment charges, I think Isiah had no input on this one.

    clearly that’s just an educated guess, only three people know for sure, but that’s what I think.

  21. Ammad

    i am sure that the bulls would have loved to keep the money they spent on wallace and rtained chandler, as he is doing what wallace used to do a few years ago.

    wallace is just about shot in year 1, and this contract was given with the knowledge that he would be shot near the end of the contract not in the beginning.

    chandler mean while is a young wallace.

  22. Larry A

    Layden was terrible. The team was in freefall when Isiah arrived. It was a roster primed to be the worst by far in the league for a while. Isiah has done a reasonable job of bringing the team in for a “soft landing” from the group of players and contracts he inherited. Of course, a great GM would have let the team fall and built a new one around a few top draft picks but there are others who get top picks every year and still don’t build a winner (see Atlanta).

    The timing of the extention by Dolan was very interesting. It seems Dolan wanted to make a “we are all in this together” statement to the players as they try to make a push for the playoffs this year.

  23. Count Zero

    Wow, what a bunch of “glass half full” guys you are! :-)

    Four years ago you would have been screaming about the fact that we were probably not going to make the playoffs, and that even if we did, we would be gone in the first round.

    Because really — that’s the truth of the matter isn’t it? We have 0.5 game lead and a nasty schedule remaining (including those two games against the Nets whom we never beat). And while it’s true that we have played well against the playoff teams, the second season is another animal entirely. That’s when the inability to get a stop when you need one is the difference between winning and losing — night in and night out. There’s no way we beat the Cavs in the playoffs. I’ll put money on that right now and give you odds to boot. LOL

    So basically, you’re all on board with extending Isiah because he’s mediocre? That’s something to aspire to as a coach and/or GM of the NYK with over $100 million in payroll — mediocrity. Personally, I feel like if you’re going to suck, you might as well REALLY suck and get some recognition for it. Mediocrity is worse. :-P

  24. DMull

    ^I didn’t say I was on board. Not at all. But I think we all pretty much realized this was going to happen.

  25. Rick

    “So basically, you?re all on board with extending Isiah because he?s mediocre? That?s something to aspire to as a coach and/or GM of the NYK with over $100 million in payroll ? mediocrity. Personally, I feel like if you?re going to suck, you might as well REALLY suck and get some recognition for it. Mediocrity is worse. :-P”

    I think I would be okay with Isiah staying on as coach, but I know it’s a matter of time before he signs another Jerome James or buys-out another Jalen Rose.

    The fact is, this team is not a 50 game winner. There are too many repeat parts, something that DMull (a real-life personal friend) has ranted about to me constantly. The fact that the team has OVERPERFORMED (ridiculous, but true) cannot be overlooked. On the bright side: Curry is a great player, and he’s still only 24! Let’s just hope that genetic heart defect doesn’t kick in when he hits his prime (or ever). David Lee makes me turn on the Knicks every night and Renaldo Balkman plays with Junk Yard-style intensity every second that he’s in the game. Channing, Q, Nate, and sometimes even Jeffries make us believe in this team, too.

    But the fact remains: this team is NOT a mediocre team. It is a below-average team, so for them to perform on a playoff-qualifying level, I think it says something.

    He shouldn’t have been rewarded for mediocrity until after the season though.

    Sell the Knicks.

  26. dave crockett

    I suppose the thing you have to do is ask yourself, if Thomas is the wrong guy what are the options?

    * Go to the market for a superior coach and/or GM
    * Hope Thomas continues to develop in both roles (and put in constraints to protect the franchise from his worst excesses)

    Those are pretty much your two options; buy it or make (develop) it.

    If you’re trying to buy it you have to understand whether you’re in a buyers’ or a sellers’ market. It’s definitely a sellers’ market. In many years there’s a hot assistant or two that is supposed to be the next big thing. This year, we’re hearing very little of that kind of talk. We’re not hearing much about the established coaches out there waiting for the right job to open up either. Right now, the best coach currently available is probably Stan Van Gundy. A fine coach, though I’m not sure he is the right fit for New York. And even if he was we’re still stuck with depending on Dolan to pick the right GM if he wants to overhaul.

    In that sense I don’t see what would have been gained by letting this situation drag on until the end of the season. Phil Jackson, or Avery Johnson, or Greg Poppovich aren’t getting fired at the end of the year. So I am unclear about what would happen at the end of the season that isn’t already known, easily anticipated, or easily adjusted to. If Avery Johnson all of a sudden became available, I suspect Isiah the coach would be fired–probably by Isiah the GM.

  27. DMull

    Dave. Thing is – I don’t really agree with you. You claim there are no benefits of waiting until the end of the season – well what happens now if the team totally collapses and wins like 4 games the rest of the season? Do we still want Isiah here?

    The fact of the matter is, Isiah doesn’t have the New York Knicks in some type of stranglehold. It’s not like he could sit there and say “Well if I don’t get a contract extension I’ll see you later.” I highly doubt he’s got teams lining up at the door to hire him as a coach/GM the moment we fire him.

    I agree with what you’re saying about there not being much out there. And if that’s the case at the end of the season and we finished strong, then OK give him an extension or whatever…but the team is 29-34, barely hanging on to the 8th seed (basically because everyone around them collapsed) in a bad conference. I’m not saying I’m unhappy or happy with this – I believe it’s about par with where I figured we be before the season started.

    And that to me doesn’t add up to giving a guy who has, at best, treaded water during his tenure here a contract extension.

  28. steve

    i think isiah’s made some inexcusable trades. but that just makes him qualified to be an NBA GM, the biggest group of idiots in sports. of course, we wish that he wouldn’t make the obvious boneheaded impulsive mistakes – like jerome james, like getting jalen rose, like letting jalen rose go and so on – but that just puts him comfortably with his brethren.

    the GMs that don’t make mistakes like that – in phoenix, in dallas and in san antonio – run the teams we all look up to. funny how that works, doesn’t it? dumars in detroit was in that group until recently, and colangelo in toronto will soon join. it’s crystal clear as it happens.

    isiah’s not there, and probably never will. so that puts the knicks in the middle of the pack.

    call me spoiled, but i’m not one for being in the middle of the pack.

    the guy can draft, though.

  29. Rick

    I think the real question here is:

    “What would you do to have Isiah removed from his position?”

    Mine would be to crossdress — like a business-classy female VP from a local company — and be as sexually ambiguous as possible to him.

    But even that might not stop Zeke.

  30. Matthew

    Crockett,

    You’re right that the team has mostly easily fixable holes (on the offense end at least), but the problem is that while you and I know about the holes, Thomas doesn’t seem to. Every move he’s made in the past has been unrelated to filling holes. It’s been essentially about a net increase in “talent”. There’s little reason to believe that Thomas is going to suddenly decide to pick up a shooter instead of another runner+jumper.

  31. Matthew

    Dave:

    Rick Adelman is without a job. He’s handled similar athletic teams in the past, both in Portland and Sacramento. Albeit, he did have better passing in Sacramento than the Knicks currently have. But that’s a possible way to go.

  32. Matthew

    Steve, not that I want to defend Isiah, but those teams have made mistakes too. Dallas, for example, is the team that gave Raef LaFrentz that insane deal. Dampier and Diop haven’t exactly lived up to their pay grade either. San Antonio have made mistakes too; they’ve been unable to find a backup point guard or frontcourt help. They’ve downgraded their center position each time they’ve made a move: first from Robinson to Rasho to Nazr to Oberto to Elson (Elson!?).

    The point is that there is no such thing as mistake free GMs. Basketball is difficult to manage. It’s hard to tell what the future holds for most players. I guess it just can be said that the good GMs have a plan and try not to make “big risk, possible big reward” type deals that Isiah falls for. Such as the deal for Jerome James, where he was willing to pay that much with the hope/expectation that the Sacramento series wasn’t a fluke. Turns out it was.

  33. T-Mart

    “Every move he?s made in the past has been unrelated to filling holes. It?s been essentially about a net increase in ?talent?.”

    Did you miss the 2006 Draft? How do you reconcile the selection of Renaldo Balkman, Mardy Collins, and the signing of Jared Jefferies with that hypothesis. These were all 110% related to “filling holes”.

  34. Jim P

    I just don’t see the downside in waiting until the end of the season to see the full body of work. If it continues at this pace, sure, give him an extension.

    I don’t like Isiah’s fake laugh. Or, that he thinks he’s some Svengali who can connect with the modern player when others (read white) cannot.

    But, Dolan is deep into this and has to prove he’s right. He’s got the sexual harrasment suit which is serious and on which he’s staked a lot. Can’t turn back on that one. And, he’s got a roster loaded with Thomas’ guys, so starting anew is a four-year program.

    Make Thomas finish on a high note would have been the way to go and could have created a solid defense. This is just bad chasing bad.

  35. Rick

    There’s nothing serious about the sexual harrassment allegations.

    The only problem I have with it is that it’s not nearly as funny as the Harold Reynolds-Boston Chicken date scandal.

  36. DMull

    Orlando loses again. Puts us 1 game ahead of them.

    New Jersey beats Memphis. They creep within 1/2 game of us.

  37. jon abbey

    “Albeit, he did have better passing in Sacramento than the Knicks currently have.”

    um, understatement of the year? he had Divac and Webber, probably the best combo of passing big men in league history. none of our guards are as good passers as those guys were, forget about our big men (although Lee is very good and only going to improve with more court time, I think).

  38. hoolahoop

    Dolan, Isiah, Marbury, Curry – GOING NOWHERE! NOT NOW. NOT EVER.
    When the Knicks finally win a playoff game, these names will be long forgotten.

    The only hope was for Dolan to dismantle and start a new regime. Now it’s in ink, that ain’t happening.

  39. Dan Panorama

    Look, the team is doing half decent now, why fire Isiah which automatically means total rebuilding mode? There’s no point at all – even if we bring in a genius we have several bazillion dollars of entirely untradeable contracts that aren’t going anywhere. If we decide Isiah is lousy, let’s wait until a couple of seasons form now when we’re under the cap (or reasonable in our cap) and actually have some major decisions to make about the future, barring a total meltdown.

  40. Matthew SM

    I’ve been a die-hard fan for the last 20 years, but I’m not sure if I can put up with another “multi-year”s of hating Isiah and the team that he’s spawned. Right now the only thing that really keeps me in it is David Lee.

    I bet I’m not the only one who’s slowly and sadly losing interest as Dolan strangles the Knickerbockers…

  41. Paul

    Adelman? ADELMAN?

    And I’m curious why people are listing letting Jalen Rose go as a bad move.

  42. jeremy

    This is really sad. The Eastern Conference this year is terrible. Why is everyone so happy with fighting for the 8 spot? Anyone who is even considering the Knicks might have a shot against the Pistons is delusional.

    This used to be a proud team. Now we are reduced to singing the praises of Jamal Crawford and Eddy Curry? Bulls fans must be killing themselves laughing.

    Eddy Curry = no defense, Jamal Crawford = no shot selection, Marbury = washed up, Jeffries = one-dimensional, Frye = soft. Knicks have 1 real asset, David Lee, and an overpaid, but decent shooting guard in Richardson. This is something to celebrate? We should keep Isiah because he is no worse than Danny Ainge?

    i thought the goal of an NBA franchise is to win the NBA championship, not get to the 1st round of the playoffs. Does anyone seriously believe Isiah can contend for the title?

  43. dave crockett

    “Dave. Thing is – I don?t really agree with you. You claim there are no benefits of waiting until the end of the season – well what happens now if the team totally collapses and wins like 4 games the rest of the season? Do we still want Isiah here?”

    An extension doesn’t provide immunity from being fired. The ink was barely dry on Larry Brown’s contract when he was let go (or resigned, or whatever). Signing the extension now, was for most practical purposes, a public relations move. It keeps Thomas’ status from being a story as the Knicks move into the stretch run. For once, it was a reasonably savvy business move on Dolan’s part. The extension will generate some buzz (much of it negative) this week. A week from now the focus will be on basketball and probably not so much on whether the Knicks should pursue Rick Adelman or whomever else.

    The question of whether Thomas deserves to remain in NY is a different question. Or at least I have yet to read anything compelling about why it is supposed to be related at all to when Thomas signed the extension. If something better comes along in the market, nothing keeps the Knicks from pursuing that option. If Phil Jackson all of a sudden decides he’s had enough of Kobe, and he really means it this time, the Knicks can pursue him. Thomas of all people, who has openly courted coaching candidates while the position was filled, knows how the game is played.

  44. T-Mart

    “Anyone who is even considering the Knicks might have a shot against the Pistons is delusional.”

    Is it really that hard to go to espn.com and look at the game history, or even just memory before people start throwing around generalized delusional labels on our chances against the Pistons. I’d much rather face the Pistons then the Cavs, Heat (esp with Wade), Or Nets. It is pretty obvious we match up well against them. Here is our history this season and last:

    05-06
    @ NYK W 105-103
    @ NYK L 103-97
    @ Det L 106-98
    @ Det L 105-79

    06-07

    @ NYK W 155-147 (Best game of the season)
    @ Det L 108-100

    In six games against them we have only been blown out once, and that game was well into the Larry Brown disaster. The team had completely mailed it in by then. We have played with the Pistons in every game, beaten them twice. This is a team that comes to play every night. Our victories against them were not Rip Chauncy and Tayshon taking a snooze for a game. No one would be “delusional” for saying we have a shot against the Pistons.

  45. BigEastBball

    Jon you said,
    “actually the only real hope is for Dolan to sell the team to some smart people, a la the Red Sox and John Henry.”

    There is actually a lot of irony in that statement considering that James Dolan tried to buy the Red Sox several years ago but MLB accepted John Henry’s substantially lower bid. If only Dolan was running the Red Sox . . .

    Anyhow just for argument’s sake I’m among the crowd that believes that nobody fails upward quite like Isiah Thomas. Making the playoffs in this conference as a seventh or eigth seed (if they are so lucky) is no real accomplishment.

  46. RKade32

    Have the expectations/standards gotten that low that for the Knicks that they are rewarding executives with multi-year deals when the team is 5 games under .500 in the worst conference in recent history while having the highest payroll in the league? I mean, does that make any sense?

  47. RKade32

    Have the expectations/standards gotten so low for the Knicks that the front office is rewarding executives with multi-year deals when the team is 5 games under .500 in the worst conference in recent history while having the highest payroll in the league? I mean, does that make any sense?

  48. jon abbey

    “Have the expectations/standards gotten so low for the Knicks that the front office is rewarding executives with multi-year deals when the team is 5 games under .500 in the worst conference in recent history while having the highest payroll in the league? I mean, does that make any sense?”

    yes, actually (to the latter question). it’s not about this year, it’s about next year, when the expectations will be in the 45 win area (this year they were in the 35 win area).

  49. jon abbey

    no, what’s really sad is when people insist on short-sighted analysis of what’s clearly a work in progress. what’s really sad is what Dolan and Layden did to this team/organization. what’s going on now is the attempted recovery from that, which doesn’t happen overnight. will it definitely be successful? of course not, but it’s clearly the option that makes the most sense at this point in time, continuing along these lines for another year and see how/if we continue progressing, as opposed to starting from scratch once again.

  50. RKade32

    I don’t have a problem with continuing along the recovery for another year. I have a problem with entrusting that task to a person who has shown that he is not well-suited as the GM/president of basketball operations of this team. As a coach, Isiah’s done a decent job, but it’s tough to judge b/c we are comparing to last year’s fiasco.

  51. Dan

    I must say that 2 months ago, I was certain the Knicks would not make the playoffs this year. Now, it seems as though we have a real shot. It’s not a big accomplishment if we start comparing this team to the 90′s Knicks, but this is the best team we have fielded since Van Gundy left.

    That’s good enough for a lot of us who are just trying to hang on to a glimmer of hope for the future.

  52. JK47

    The Knicks have some good pieces– they have the nuts and bolts of a winning team but none of the chrome and leather. Stephon Marbury and Eddy Curry are nice complementary players, but if they are the “stars” of your team you are in big trouble.

    The backcourt has been a total mess– all short, small guys who dribble and shoot a lot, but don’t get lots of assists, shoot for a decent percentage or get steals. The Knicks’ assist-to-turnover ratio is a pretty pathetic 1.18.

    This team is pretty much screwed. I’d keep Curry, Lee, Q and Balkman and get rid of pretty much everybody else.

  53. Nicholas Chivily

    It’s tiresome hearing four year safter the fact that it’s Layden’s fault. Is there no sense of responsibility. Its always one excuse after another. Now Francis was Brown’s fault even though if hioe was so happy to get him he might not have looked so constipated at the press conference and maybe played him a bit.

    The “Layden” team was mostly gone within three months and only Sweetney remained past the first season. Also is there really a practical difference between offensively limited defense first, Van Gundy style players and team and defensively challenged, turnover prone players, 85-80 or 105-100 is still a loss.

    As for the lie that it takes years, keep in mind Toronto won 27 games or only 4 more than the Knicks last year. For chirstsakes back in the day the Knicks went from terrible to 50 wins in Cartwright’s rookie year with DSugar Ray, Ray Williams and Toby Knight all in their 2nd or third years. Not to chide the “star” guards on this team but Phoenix, Chicago and NJ all made dramatic turnarounds in one season after Steph and Jamal left. While Phoenix had talent and slumped during the season Amare got hurt, Chicago had been in free-fall for years and NJ was NJ. The Knicks I loved were going deep into the playoffs each year.

    Finally if they progressing and if Layden’s team was so bad how did they make the playoffs that first year and why is taking 3 years to get back there an accomplishment?

  54. Truth

    Let me start off by saying I been a Knick fan for 12 years. I think James Dolan’s move of resigning Isiah to a multi year extension is beyond laughable. The funny thing is were not even in playoff position anymore and sorry guys were not making the playoffs over NJ, Orlando, or Indiana. The Knicks are the only team that reward someone for “almost” making the playoffs and not being as sucky as the last year. Win won lose one attitude this late in the season to just ok teams is not going to land us a playoff spot, even in the East. This is NY and the fans deserve better then what were getting from the Knicks. The effort sucks and I blame Isiah. I don’t care what no one says. We been meteocre since he came to town and started signing unneeded and unwanted talent who end up being a bust, but play them anyway because he needs to prove a point (ex. JEROME JAMES, Steve Francis, Jarred Jeffries, Jalen Rose, etc). Then after spending millions of dollars on them he offers to buy them out! Are you freakin kidding me?!? (ex Junkyard Dawg, Shandon Anderson, Jalen Rose rumore of Francis) He makes no sense. How many more losing seasons do Knicks fans need to suffer before a change??? I say we cut our loses in Isiah and give STAN VAN GUNDY a call. Why not? Can we be any worse? And for all the players that are crying they would leave if Isiah gets fired, LET THEM LEAVE! I’m tired of the crap and excuses from this organization, this is NY and we deserve a winning team. Isiah needs to go and we need a new coach, a new GM and some new players that want to play defense like the Knicks of old and stop turning the ball over every second. This is business, when someone is given chance after chance to get better and don’t improve they get fired! In the Knicks case, we give them multi-year multi-million dollar extensions because were only 6 games under .500 and only two spots out of the playoff run. I would like to end with the Garden chant of “FIRE ISIAH”. No more EXCUSES! Lets get some new people in the organization that won’t settle for just mediocre.

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