Isiah Thomas: 2006 Knicks Head Coach?

I usually don’t comment on things that are rumors before they actually happen. It’s a simple rule I gave myself because often enough the rumors tend to be just that, and the time I spent on the article could have been used on something more productive. However there are a few stories that are either worth the mention or are highly likely to occur that it makes sense to spend the time to investigate them.

The current rumor circulating the New York papers is the possibility of the Knicks buying out the remaining 4 years of Larry Brown’s contract and Isiah Thomas assuming the role of head coach. Between Brown’s wanderlust, Dolan’s loyalty to Isiah, and Thomas’ infinite confidence in himself, this one seems to heading to fruition. As far as rumors go, throw this in the “I’d be shocked if it didn’t happen” pile.

The results of such a move might mean a short term gain for the Knicks. Brown’s career record prior to New York was excellent, one step back then two steps forward. However it seemed that he never found his groove in the Garden. There are many theories abound on why Larry’s first year with the Knicks was a disaster. One theory holds that Brown was unable to mesh with Stephon Marbury. Another was that the Knicks personnel was ill-fit for Brown’s grind them down defensive style of play. The latest rumor is that Larry’s passive-aggressive way of criticizing the team publicly instead of behind close doors led to his own self destruction. Most likely the truth is a little bit of each of these.

It’s obvious that bringing in Isiah to coach the team would help these issues. In Isiah’s 3 years as Indiana head coach, the Pacers were in the top 10 in league pace twice. The Knicks don’t have the spot up shooters nor the post up presence to run a strong half court offense. They lack the interior shot blocking presence and a perimeter stopper to play a standard half court defense as well. Changing to a coach that likes to run, or is flexible enough to play to the Knicks’ strengths should mean a few extra wins next season. At worst an up-tempo game might make a 50 loss season more bearable to watch.

Psychologically, Isiah might be the ideal person to turn the team around. First off Isiah has a strong relationship with Stephon Marbury, and would likely put the ball back in the hands of the Knicks’ best offensive player. Secondly, with Zeke as the Knicks coach, the players won’t have to read the papers to find out where they stand. Finally, the Knicks won’t have the GM/Coach power struggle that marred them last year. Isiah the coach will only have himself to blame if the team construction isn’t to his liking, as he personally signed off on the deals that brought each player to New York.

However while there are positives to Isiah assuming the sideline duties, let’s put a few things into perspective. First off the Knicks were one of the league’s worst teams last year, so even a 38 win season might be seen as an accomplishment for them. However that would give the Knicks their 6th straight losing season, which isn’t something to be proud of. Additionally, there is no guarantee that Isiah Thomas is a good coach. His Indiana teams only finished more than 2 games over .500 once and they never won a playoff series. And let’s not ignore the obvious reason, that under Isiah Thomas’ management the Knicks have become the laughing stock of the league.

So if Dolan decides to stick with Isiah, and Isiah thinks that he is the only one that can turn this team around on the court, how will the situation play out? Well the offical KnickerBlogger Crystal Ball? offers a few possible futures for the Knicks. The best case scenario: Isiah the coach realizes what a genius “Isiah the young talent evaluator” is and what a moron “Isiah the free agent cap specialist” is. He vows not to add any more high and long term contracts to the team. Dr. David Crockett is hired to oversee all cap activity.

The new Isiah does everything he can to stockpile picks, and digs through the NBDL and unsigned draftees to fill in the team’s needs. Unloading big contracts where he can, the Knicks return to a respectable level in regards to the salary cap, leaving Steven A. Smith and Charles Barkley without any salary cap jokes. Unable to think of anything clever to yell, and with the help of guru Phil Jackson, Smith and Barkley find inner peace in silence for the first time in their life. They enter a monastery in a remote Pacific island, and 5 years later world peace is achieved.

Another scenario has Isiah Thomas unable to turn the team around and the players revolt against him. With the team in a downward spiral and fans staying away from MSG as if it were infested with the bird flu, Dolan fires Thomas and brings in Jerry Colangelo. Isiah is brought on to preside over the Atlanta Hawks, and Colangelo jumps on the opportunity. Jerry is able to unload a few contracts and acquire a few of the Hawks unprotected draft picks, and the Knicks gear up for a 2009 run at the playoffs.

The worst case scenario? Due to an easy early the schedule the Knicks are a few games over .500. Jealous of the special treatment given to Eddy Curry, Channing Frye goes public with his displeasure of the team and ends up in Isiah’s doghouse. Smelling the revenue payoff from a possible postseason appearance, Dolan orders Isiah to make the playoffs. In January, Zeke packages the troubled Frye and speedy Nate along with some expiring contracts and a few draft picks to the Heat for Antoine Walker. The 2007 Knicks tank ala the 2005 Knicks, and miss the playoffs by 9 games. In 2011 the Bulls finally unseat the Cavs in the East commencing a friendly off the court (but bitter on the court) rivalry between LeBron James and Greg Oden (acquired with the Knicks 2007 first round pick) that lasts for nearly a decade. The two film a McDonalds commercial reprising the Larry Bird-Michael Jordan game of horse.

What’s likely to happen? Well the 2007 Knicks will probably improve by some amount, just because the 2006 team was so bad. Isiah will feel justified with the improvement, and the effort earns him at least another year as the president of the organization under Dolan. However he is unable to bring in an impact player, and the 2008 team does not make the playoffs. The press catches on that Isiah tenure has lasted as long as Scott Layden’s without any positive results, and harps on the issues that the under Thomas the Knicks haven’t produces a single playoff win. Dolan caves in to the media and fan pressure and finally sends Isiah packing.

Unfortunately for Knick fans, the next few seasons are unlikely to be fruitful unless Isiah unearths a pair of studs with the 20th and 29th picks in the draft, or Kevin Garnett demands to be traded to the Big Apple. With Dolan steadfast in his belief that Isiah will turn the team around, and with Isiah showing little understanding of his own strengths & weaknesses there seems to be little to believe that the Knicks are going to be anything other than a lower-to-middle of the road team.

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Mike Kurylo

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

38 thoughts to “Isiah Thomas: 2006 Knicks Head Coach?”

  1. The best case scenario: Isiah the coach realizes what a genius ?Isiah the young talent evaluator? is and what a moron ?Isiah the free agent cap specialist? is. He vows not to add any more high and long term contracts to the team. Dr. David Crockett is hired to oversee all cap activity.

    Just in case Mr. Dolan reads let it be known, I don’t come cheap. :)

  2. Kurt at this point I’m just laying back and watching the circus play out. I have every reason to believe that the commish is working his ass off behind the scenes, but his ability to compel grown men to behave sensibly is really rather limited. (Perhaps we now know why Stern spends so much time obsessing over trivia, like players’ press conference attire and the merits of compression garments.)

    Really I’m still stunned at how three grown men could allow their egos to drive them to play scorched earth with my basketball team. I suppose after tonight’s draft lottery I’ll transition to anger.

  3. Isiah as a head coach would be HORRIBLE. Here’s a guy who played (to quote Bill Simmons) “Jamison Freaking Brewer” down the stretch of close games repeatedly, when he was coaching what was arguably the deepest team in the league. They had Jermaine O’Neal, Ron Artest, Brad Miller, Al Harrington, Reggie Miller, Jamaal Tinsley, Ron Mercer, Jonathan Bender, Austin Croshere, Jeff Foster, and even picked up Tim Hardaway close to the end of the season. And somehow Isiah couldn’t get them to more than 48 wins, the 3 seed, and a first-round exit.

    And we’re seriously considering letting him coach again?

  4. I’ve decided to break up with the Knicks – as long as Dolan and Thomas are associated with this organization, I won’t have any rooting interest nor will I invest any emotional attachment to them.

    With that decision, I’m intrigued to see what will happen if they get rid of Brown, who’s probably the only person left in that organization with any clue. Like Simmons, I’m intrigued from a historic standpoint. How horribly can you destroy an organization? IT has made a mockery of the Knicks, can he make this era unquestionably the worst run organization of any franchise in any sport? This could be the polar opposite of the Auerbach/Russell Celtics. I’m intrigued to see what unfolds.

  5. IT has made a mockery of the Knicks, can he make this era unquestionably the worst run organization of any franchise in any sport? This could be the polar opposite of the Auerbach/Russell Celtics. I?m intrigued to see what unfolds.

    The Kansas City Royals are probably the worst organization in professional sports, but the Knicks are right up there. At least the Royals barely spend any money being terrible.

    Please tell me the Knicks are not going to attempt a starting backcourt of Stephon Marbury and Steve Francis next year. Please tell me someone or something will prevent that from happening.

  6. Can you believe this crap? Talk about surreal. The Post has a hilarious picture of Larry Brown shaking Post beat writer Marc Berman’s hand on the side of the road, where Knick beat writers had apparently camped out to flag Brown’s car down. I can’t imagine how this whole circus can get much worse, but I suppose we’ll all find out when the games start. Regardless of whether you want Brown fired or Thomas to caoch I can’t believe anyone can support the way it is being handled. Absolutely ridiculous.

  7. This is truly the most embarassing sports franchise ever to lay claim to a home in NYC. I can’t even bear to read the articles in the paper anymore.

  8. Dolan is a business man and does not take the FANS seriously. He sugar-coats the team (by acquiring over-priced players) when they REALLY needs to rebuild. He thinks that the people who watch the Knicks just wanted to be entertained (the more star players on the roster the better). As long as he sees profits from the Knicks, he’s going to continue buying out-of-prime NBA stars with BIG contracts.
    Knicks FANS should no longer buying into this, they should stop buying game tickets and all of its concessions. Dolan can only be heard by the profit margin.
    Thomas should take a management course from Joe Dumar. I’ll just leave it at that.

  9. To really feel the futility, count the former Knicks playing important supporting roles on the four teams still playing.

  10. “To really feel the futility, count the former Knicks playing important supporting roles on the four teams still playing.”

    OK, off the top of my head (so I could be missing somebody major or incorrectly including somebody), I count Tim Thomas, Antonio McDyess, Shandon Anderson, and Keith Van Horn. (Do you want to count the injured Kurt Thomas?) Also, KVH and Tim Thomas were traded for each other, so I don’t think you can really assume that the Knicks could still have both on their team. As for the rest, McDyess left as a free agent and it is doubtful he would have returned to the Knicks and I certainly do not long for the days of Shandon Anderson. I’ll admit though that I wish Tim Thomas gave some effort more than 5% of the time he wore a Knicks jersey. Que sera.

  11. ?To really feel the futility, count the former Knicks playing important supporting roles on the four teams still playing.?

    I think just by looking at all the players who were traded would be enough to feel the futility. The players flourish in their new teams while the players who joins the Knicks go below average.

  12. Keith Van Horn was expected to be a star in NY and everywhere before NY, but in Dallas he’s only supposed to be a role player with an eight figure salary. He didn’t suddenly “blossom,” his underachievement is simply overlooked because the team is winning. Shandon Anderson is a quality contributor? I thought he was banished to the bench for the most part.

  13. If Isiah becomes coach he will figure out a way for this team to win and
    I think they will play hard for him. This team is much better than the record
    they had this year, I predict they will be in the playoffs next season, however
    someone should be brought in to veto anymore stupid trades.

  14. “I think just by looking at all the players who were traded would be enough to feel the futility. The players flourish in their new teams while the players who joins the Knicks go below average.”

    Who has flourished with their new teams? Tim Thomas, I suppose, but you can blame the Bulls more for that one. At least the Knicks aren’t still paying him. The only other player I can think of is Nazr Mohammed. One good thing you can say about Isiah is that even if you don’t like the players that he’s acquired, he’s given away mostly junk to get them (Nazr and this year’s draft pick excepted).

  15. This forum has totally fallen apart and the writing is done too. You missed the boat so long ago.

  16. It’s easy to bitch now about the Knicks, but I can’t believe none of you saw this coming. It was as clear as day. Part of the reason the Knicks are reaching “most embarrasing franchise in sports history” status, is the fans are both impatient and have no concept of reality. This team is as cooked as it gets with Thomas at the healm. If only you dopes had spent your time trying to rally the fan base and cause a stir when it would have meant something, there would still be hope.

  17. By the way, did I mention I predicted all of this and got banned from the board for it?

  18. Like your site & all of its information .Really has made me look @ the game from a different point of view since I started evaluating pace & tempo .With your site’s help .

    Where on your site (or somehere else) can I see the entire 82 game season broken down like you have thru most of the season & where could I find the same stats for the NBA playoffs .Concerning pace & effiency ?

    Apologize if it’s right in front of me .

    Thank you for your efforts .

    All the Best

    C J

  19. Kareem,
    I remember your posts and agree that Isiah should have been fired long ago. He and Dolan have destroyed this franchise from the top down, and I think its safe to say that they amassed talent at the expense of chemistry and the team’s future. For what its worth, Fire Zeke!

  20. Kareem I also remember your comments and agree that you were an IT-hater for a long time…and agree that you called it.

    But I also remember you getting banned for reasons other than dissing IT. It was more like generally making rude remarks to anyone that disagreed with you. Witness your post above:

    “If only you dopes…”

    It’s not the idea that got you banned — it’s your inability to discuss anything without insulting people.

  21. I just wanted to drop a short thank you note to Dolan and the Knicks for this hilarious off-season. There is usually almost no Knick coverage this time of year (since we haven’t been this deep in the playoff for many moons), and now we get multiple new stories per week. Of course, they basically consist of the following from the Post’s Orlando pre-Draft coverage: “Brown and Thomas were the two best-dressed people at the workouts. Brown wore a white golf shirt and pinstriped black slacks. Thomas wore a pinstriped cream dress shirt and brown-colored slacks.” If I weren’t a Knick fan I’d be laughing my behind off. As it is I am considering self-immolation. I may be cursed to root for this team, but I certainly can’t bring myself to root for the organization.

  22. I don’t think he will be coach, rather LB will. It is all a setup. KG, Pau Gasol, Paul Pierce, Robert Horry, and Tajun Prince and/or Ben Wallace will be coming here. Zeke will be fired.

  23. Best case scenario: Isiah remains GM, but takes over as head coach. And public relations, and accountant, and legal counsel, and psychologist, and therapist too. Starbury goes to Europe to show the Europeans a thing or two. Dolan, so blinded, gives Isiah keys to his own home. Signs team to Isiah. Dolan goes broke. Knicks are bought by new owner. Owner fires Isiah. Isiah is arrested for embezzeling. Flees to Europe to run a basketball team. Dolan enters mental hospital. Isiah ridiculed, starts his own basketball league overseas. Turns it into a six-foot under league. Wins his first championship with Starbury at the helm.

  24. Larry gone, Isiah named coach. This is a perfect scenario. If Isiah’s “vision” of this team pans out and they win with him at the helm, then we were all idiots and he is a genius (very unlikely). In the more likely event that this team remains terrible with him at the helm, I don’t see any way he doesn’t get fired within two years. Now if we could only find a way to get rid of Dolan, I’d be much happier about all this.

  25. How great is today’s news for the Bulls? We’d like that switch in ’07 draft picks you agreed to now, please.

    Dumping a hall of fame coach (who is admittedly a bit nuts, but a helluva coach) for a well-dressed car wreck who has ruined everything he touched to run maybe the goofiest roster in the NBA. Don’t get better than this. I’m going to the track right now.

  26. I made big cake betting the under against the Knicks last year (I drove the number down at the Hilton from 45.5 to 42.5). This year I think the number starts at 31.5 and will be over 35 by the end of the preseason and will be a great over bet even there. Isiah does have a vision for the team to play a high tempo game with stars who can score with flare. These players should have tremendous motivation to prove that LB was responsible for the debacle in 05-06 not them. Additionally, although no GM does less with more than Isiah, he has tremendous trade assets to peddle at the deadline this year i.e the expiring copntracts and several marketbale players like D Lee, J Butler, N Robinsonb. By January, the media will be talking about Isiah turning his acreer around. Unfortunately, I think Isiah will max out the talent of this roster quickly and we are looking at 2-3 years of 40-45 win seasons but it amazing how happy fans who were sick of mediocirty in the first half of the deacde will be slurping it up next year.

  27. The Bulls should trade that pick now – I would swap it even up for Toronto’s No. 1 pick this year (which probably equates to a No. 4 or 5 pick next year). Unfortunately for the Bull’s, Colangelo’s too smart for that and Portland and Charlotte won’t wait for next year.

  28. Isiah Thomas is an abomination. The worst parasite that could ever happen to any basketball team, has happened to the NY Knicks. First as GM he was ATROSCIOUS , more then one or two or thirty questionable moves, giving up draft picks, firing quite possibly one of the best coaches in the history of the NBA. Let me put it another way, WTF HAS HE DONE THAT HAS BEEN PRODUCTIVE? why is mike dolan on his goddamn nuts. Isiah Needs to Die.

  29. Wow! WOW! Wow!
    I never read so much Hate with disreguard of NBA B-Ball knowledge in my life.

    Larry Brown Sabortage the Knick Team the 2nd day of Training Camp with humiliating players in the media.

    The Knicks Franchise took the turn for failure when a disgruntle player name Patrick Ewing got angry over his two best friends & teammates (Starks & Oakley) was traded the same offseason.
    Player went against G.M., and the Coach took the player side, and the Player high tailed it out of town to Seattle leaving the coach to defend for himself. The Coach seen what he did to the Knick Organization and QUIT. So ….
    Who had and who was it that Fired G.M. Ernie Grunfield was the reason of the long down fall of the Knick franchise.

    The majority of WINNING Franchise in Sports WIN when Owner, Management, Coach, and Players are at least on the same page.
    Get it Right!!!

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