Ding Dong! Isiah Thomas Fired as Knicks Coach!

Reports in are saying that Isiah Thomas has been fired as coach of the Knicks. Thomas seems to be staying with the organization as an assistant to Walsh.


Dolan showed a good understanding of the New York press by making the decision public on Friday at 5pm. Most people are either on their way home to their family or having happy hour drinks at their local pub with the music pumping. By Monday morning no one is going to remember that Isiah Thomas was fired. The mere mention of Thomas’ name draws laughs and criticisms, and this was a good way to minimize the number of people that are going to sit around the water cooler and bad mouth the organization.

But the timing is also perfect in another way. It’s early enough that the Knicks shouldn’t lose out on any interested coaches. If they waited longer, one of the other NBA teams looking for a coach might snap up a potential candidate.

Finally I know some Knick fans are unhappy that Thomas is staying with the organization in any capacity. But I think his four and a half years of futility makes his presence innocuous. Dolan knows he can’t bring rehire him as president or coach, because Isiah Thomas has become a joke within a 100 miles of MSG. Thomas is still around because Dolan has him under contract for a few more years. For once Dolan will make someone earn the lengthy contract he handed out, instead of buying the person out.

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Mike Kurylo

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

40 thoughts to “Ding Dong! Isiah Thomas Fired as Knicks Coach!”

  1. I’ll be stunned if the coach is anyone but Mark Jackson. he quit his YES job on Wednesday and Vecsey reported yesterday he’s only interested in the NY job.

  2. Isiah would make a great advisor, if used the right way.

    When Walsh is unsure about what to do, he should just ask for Isiah’s advice… then do the opposite.

  3. hehehe, awesome. I used to use my dad that way to help time the stock market, he was always ready to buy at the peak and sell at the low.

  4. If not Knicks, Mark could entertain a possible Nets opening. The Nets should be making a coaching change too, or I bet.

  5. What troubles me is how long Isiah spent as Dolan’s favorite before changes became inevitable. If we assume the Knicks are a 3-5 year project to return to respectability and maybe a bottom half playoff seed, does Dolan have the patience to wait that long for success? Or, with a couple more 30-something win seasons to come, does Isiah hang around and undercut Walsh either out of spite or an attempt to recover his reputation and/or position in the organization?

    I worry that so long as he persists he represents a temptation; and that this news got buried on Friday as you point out suggests to me that Dolan’s ego is still wrapped up in his choice of Zeke, and thus still susceptible to a relapse. It’s not a likely course of affairs, but I don’t think it’s impossible either.

    As for the choice of new coaches: it seems likely to be Jackson with Ewing on the staff. One has no coaching experience, the other I have read is not well-regarded. Should we read this as an admission that since the team’s going to be awful for awhile, why not make it a nostalgic, New York sort of awful?

  6. I’m not sold on Mark Jackson as coach of the Knicks. I hated all those Indy guys back when they were our rivals, but unlike Reggie Miller, I don’t care much for Jax behind the mic. Not that it’s anything of an indicator; I’m just saying I’ve never been taken with his supposed basketball acumen.

    But really what the team needs is a major, major cultural shift, which begins with Isiah getting dumped and continues with wholesale dumping of many if not all of their bum players.

  7. FYI – the Knicks won the tiebreaker with the paperclips. Wolves won flip with the Griz.

  8. I doubt Isiah could get close enough to anyone to undercut Walsh to any effect; if it began to become an issue, Walsh seems to be the guy who would not hesitate to cut him loose after all this. That’s one good reason for having him report directly to Walsh; keep him on a short leash if he has to be around in any regard.

    And I don’t find Dolan’s willingness to make him stick it out noble in any sense. Dolan has proven to be utterly petty with people that have crossed him or embarrassed him in any way, and keeping Isiah locked in a no-title, dead-end job for the foreseeable future would be considered a standard form of revenge for the super rich and certainly not beyond a guy like Dolan.

    What it’s really going to take to turn this team back around is for someone to find a way to convince Dolan to stay out of the picture altogether from hereon out. What does Glen Sather do, besides rely on Dolan’s apparent indifference to hockey?

  9. everyone look out for jeff van gundy’s return…if mark jackson doesn’t get the job..van gundy is sure to

  10. “FYI – the Knicks won the tiebreaker with the paperclips. ”

    hey, there’s a bit of good news. so if we don’t make the top 3, odds are we’ll be sixth.

  11. “As for the choice of new coaches: it seems likely to be Jackson with Ewing on the staff. One has no coaching experience, the other I have read is not well-regarded. Should we read this as an admission that since the team’s going to be awful for awhile, why not make it a nostalgic, New York sort of awful?”

    heh, I think this is probably dead on.

  12. what evidence is there that van gundy will be rehired? His rockets teams consistently flamed out in the playoffs, and all evidence suggests that his focus strictly on defense is antiquated in the current NBA. Besides, Van Gundy left the knicks when they were still half-decent because he thought the team was hopeless. Things look even worse today. Beyond that, when has a team ever rehired a coach after he quit? And the knicks are the team which has refused to bring in any of the ‘glory days’ knicks because they don’t want to look back. Hiring Van Gundy would appear to be doing just that.

    I just can’t see it happening.

  13. Well, its the end of a dark era and the beginning of a new one…only place to go is up. I consider this era the Layden/Isiah era combined (with a Larry Brown interlude). As far as eras go, I can say this has been the most painful.

    Maybe we can get Marv Albert back now (unlikely, since it was Dolan who drove him away). That still pisses me off. Marv was a treasure and was treated like garbage by Dolan.

  14. Isiah does have an eye for scouting. Perhaps him staying away from MSG and hitting the road would benefit the Knicks so he wont be around MSG and at the same time being useful at the one talent he does have.

  15. Does anyone know, has Mark Jackson been a head coach at any level? I’m sorry, but I’m not behind Jackson as the choice at all. Especially with all the candidates out there who have real experience. I would much prefer to give Terry Porter a shot, he seems like he’s got more going on upstairs, sorry to say. What about the GM? Look to see if Kiki quits his job on Monday…

  16. Skiles is available but looks to be going to the bucks. Not to mention, he has a rep of alienating players.

  17. guys, it doesn’t matter what we want. it sounds like this is already done and has been for a few days. Mark Jackson head coach (and no, I’m pretty sure he has no experience doing that), and Patrick Ewing as an assistant. quite the braintrust there…

  18. Can’t you! Feel the! Brand new Day!

    Can’t you! Feel the! Brand new Day!

    That said, if we did bring in Mark Jackson, I would embrace Jackson. I would–for one important reason: most of the coaches on the market right now probably are on the market for a reason. Jackson lacks experience, but he also lacks a track record of mediocrity or worse, which a lot of the “carousel coaches” out there usually have. The Bucks are in a similar situation right now with their GM trust: why bring in someone who’s failed before when you can promote from within and see what happens? Besides, it’s not like Jackson losing would be a change of pace, and we could replace him if it doesn’t work out.

    I guess I’d rather take a chance with Jackson–knowing that losing is probable but winning is possible–than go with coach-in-search-of-a-job-A or coach-in-search-of-a-job-D where maybe-slightly .500 is assured, but not much else. Especially now that the East is shaping up a little bit.

    In the NBA, there’s a trend amongst teams starting over to go with the Devil-They-Know over something different. Jackson may not have experience, but that means he’s never failed before.

  19. finally it has been done… this is the best news regarding the knicks in recent years, even though i’m a little bit disappointed that isiah will stay with the organization in whatever function. his display of incompetence extraordinaire should have been rewarded with a permanent ban from msg.

    however, the jackson + ewing solution looks very good to me, i trust that they’ll be able to lead us back to the promised land. certainly it will take some time but i’m convinced that they’ll get it done.

  20. Ill give Mark Jackson a chance…shoot, we should bring in all the old school cats. Our coaching staff should be…. Mark Jackson, Pat Ewing, Oakley and while we are at it lets go find Derrick Harper or Anthony MAson so we can show them how to play with heart and determination.

  21. yes, and while we’re bringing back all of the “old school cats,” let’s throw Harry Gallatin and Carl Braun into the mix in some capacity.

  22. My impression is that Thibideaux (sp?) won’t get any consideration b/c he is a JVG disciple. (He may also have his eyes set on a better gig.) Too bad.

    Otherwise, there may be some value in casting a hometown guy who is taking his first job. Given that we are serious about rebuilding, he and the team will (hopefully) be ready to win about the same time.

  23. I think Jax is a lock to return to the team in some capacity, but I do not know if it is a lock that he’s the coach. Walsh may want to groom him as a GM.

    But yeah, probably he’s going to be a coach. And the news about the Knicks being the 5th spot is a nice little bit of good news. That gives the Knicks about a 88% chance of being no worse than 6th, which is about where the top players all dry up (that’s not to say that you couldn’t find players later who might be as good as the players taken in the #4-6 range).

  24. According to reports today, Marc Jackson claims he wants to focus on his ESPN/ABC work and hasn’t told Disney that he’s leaving yet.

    Reports also indicate that JVG is still in Dolans dog house and that might even cost thibodeau a shot at the job.

    If you keep curry and crawford you can’t bring in Skiles…just can’t do it.

    My think about Marc Jackson is that, he has no coaching experience whatosever…how is it possible he’s a top candidate for a franchise in desperate need?

    (Full Disclosure, I’m a sixers fan, and if Billy King ends up your GM you’ll miss Isiah)

  25. I did not hold out high prospects for Doc Rivers as coach in Orlando and he instantly made a positive mark with a not so stellar roster. (thought he did lousey (sp?) last year and deserved to be fired but that’s another story)

    I’m hoping that we’re going to see a similar situation with the Knicks next year. Could do a whole lot worse than Mark Jackson and I am at least sure that he wants the Knicks to win. Not exactly sure what Isiah Thomas wanted the lasted half of this season. Ok. That’s not true. Thomas wanted to stick around and get fired so that he could collect his 16 mil.

  26. I’d probably prefer the Celtic defensive coach over Jackson because we need help in that area and at least he has some coaching experience, but I’ll take Jackson over all the recycled proven losers. We aren’t going to win anything in the next two years anyway. So even if Jackson doesn’t work out we’ll just get rid of him. At least there’s some possibility he will work out and be a top notch coach. The others are mediocre for sure.

    I think bringing in Ewing is a no brainer if the intention is to keep Curry for at least one more year.

  27. What a game between SA and PHX! I’m sure it’s easier said than done, but how is Manu Ginobili allowed to drive left EVERY single TIME!!!?!?? I think I would’ve had a heart attack if that were the Knicks out there today.

  28. John, you’re going about this all wrong. We absolutely can bring Skiles in, crawford and curry are both expendable, if they dont wanna shape up for Skiles then ship them out, it’s not like either has won us a ton of games since coming to NY.

    The future could be looking up

  29. Im just so flatlined on this team I really wonder if I can ever get as excited as I used to. I was a season ticket holder from 1989-2004 and have been at the Garden for all the highs and lows of that era.

    I remember sitting with my head in my hands stunned for 15 minutes after the Charles Smith debacle and when Patrick rose up and dunked it home to send us to the finals in 1994 we poured into the streets and partied until 2am afterward.

    The atmosphere in the Garden was electric for most of those years. I just cant imagine caring again like that. I guess I care because I read and post here, but maybe its mostly out of habit.

    I suspect most of us feel that way. Maybe Mark Jackson is the guy to get us pumped again. I dunno. The franchise really needs to take a serious look at itself and ask “how do we bring the die hards back?” and where are the new fans coming from?

    I mean if we dont care, our kids wont care. And if our kids dont care…

  30. As soon as the team is fixed the fans will come it will just take sometime. Lets hope David Stern has magic fingertips on draft day. If we pick top two im going to make sure im there for the selection at MSG.

  31. If you want to go the former-player route, get a current assistant. Someone like Brian Shaw.

    To me, the announcing stuff DOES matter. JVG makes specific points on what’s going on in the game. That shows that he understands basketball. Jackson says the same 5 or 6 cliches over and over. I can’t imagine him breaking down film with any noteworthy commentary on what’s going on, since he’s proven incapable in the announcers both.

  32. “To me, the announcing stuff DOES matter. JVG makes specific points on what’s going on in the game. That shows that he understands basketball.”

    I think announcing and coaching are two very different arenas. Commentating you answer to a producer who answers to team management/ad execs. The things you are allowed to say fit within a very small box.

    Coaches turned commentators that commentate like coaches are impossible to listen to. Hubie Brown blabbers on and on about Xs and Os and it is boring.

    Tim McCarver makes himself sound like a baseball genius when he commentates. There’s probably a good reason no one hires him to manage a team. Same with Joe Buck, Steve Stone, and [place your personal favorite sports commentator here]. They are all good talkers, and understand their role as it pertains to the game and their audience.

    Mark Jackson is not some hack commentator who wants to be a coach. He is a hall of fame caliber point guard who has played in the NBA finals. His coaches considered him an assistant coach as well as a player. How anybody can say he doesn’t understand the game because he phones in a few Nets telecasts is awfully myopic.

  33. Well there goes that idea for ya, enjoy marc jackson who you all love but has how much nba coaching experience?

    Hell Mo Cheeks was an assistant before he got the portland job and the ‘nostalgia’ gig in pphilly (no i still want him fired)

    As for craford and curry being expendable, as i understand it most the knicks roster is expendable…problem is this is the NBA and not the NFL or MLB where you could just cut em and maybe save some money and it’s not like horses, since they are broken, you can’t take em out back and shoot em, you gotta find someone who will take those who are expendable. (there’s a movie poster parody in there somewhere….woo hoo pat burrell home run)…anyway, the point is, no one in the right mind is going to take on curry or crawford, most GMs who would are out of work.

    Sam Dalembert probably now has more trade value than Eddy Curry…think about that for a minute and realize how bad curry and that contract are.

    John, you’re going about this all wrong. We absolutely can bring Skiles in, crawford and curry are both expendable, if they dont wanna shape up for Skiles then ship them out, it’s not like either has won us a ton of games since coming to NY.

    The future could be looking up

  34. hahahah….isiah has to stay away from the team and not have any contact so that he doesnt undermine the new coach

  35. So when is not being fired being fired? I think we have a perfect example now…seriously though, gotta love what walsh is doing here…he’s basically castrated isiah but still (it seems) following the dolan (idiot) mandate not to fire isiah.

    Sad part is I don’t think Dolan is the worst owner in new york city, that falls squarely on the shoulders of hank.

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