Isiah Thomas. Cancer or Visionary? End Debate
Here it is. My attempt, perhaps futile but an attempt none the less, to end this debate once and for all. Is Isiah Tomas a cancer to the Knicks or does he have a vision for this team that has been tainted by an inherited old and flawed roster? My attempt from this point on is to point out with no bias in any way the ups and downs of the New York Knicks during Thomas' rain as Preseident of Basketball Operations and Head Coach.
What we Know
Isiah Thomas was hired midway through the 2003-2004 season. Thomas' mandate was to make an old, slow, overpaid roster vital again. His way of doing this was making what some would call 'Questionable Trades'. With out going into detail of each trade we know that Thomas has completely changed the Knicks roster. Every player that is on the current roster has been brought in by Thomas or with is approval. We also know that during the 03-04 season Houston, the 20 million dollar a year man became injured there by ending the Knicks chances for a play off spot. Houston's salary was a major drain on the salary cap and a hindrance on the teams ability to make trades.
Recap Zek's Plan Faze One
Initially Thomas clearly was not concerned with the salary cap. In order to bring in players he traded away every expiring contract for the talent that was available at the time. This plan brought us the likes of Stephon Marbury Jamal Crawford and a few others that were later traded away.
Thomas traded away the Knicks only center, an aging Kurt Thomas to Phoenix for Quinton Richardson. At this point the team did not have a center so Thomas gave a whopping 5 year 30 million contract for Jerome James. This was a controversial move at the time because James had only a single good play off series under his belt. Perhaps the move was one of desperation. Later on the very same summer Thomas traded the expiring contract of Antonio Davis and a future first round draft pick for Chicago center Eddie Curry.
More Failure in a nutshell
Thomas hired Larry Brown to a 5 year 50 million dollar contract. Per Brown's request, the Knicks gave away the young and promising Trever Ariza and expiring contract of Penny Hardaway for Steve Francis. Yet another questionable move to place a star point guard on the same squad with an existing star point guard, Stephon Marbury. Brown was fired after his first year in which the Knicks had their worst record in 50 years. The Knicks and Brown settled for an undisclosed amount.
Most can agree Thomas did walk into a disaster. Many say he made that disaster worse. Yet there are high expectations for Eddie Curry and much of the Knicks roster. There is promise and there has been improvement. If the Knicks stay healthy and make it to the play offs or even to the second round, all of these things will be a distant memory and critics will be silenced. My view is history is still being written.