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The Worst GM Ever
Written By Robert Bonnette

Warning: What you are about to read is based on facts, but is full of vitriol and bad
feelings. If you are a fan of Isaiah Thomas, you may want to stop reading now.


The NBA trade deadline has passed, and the NBA season is about to hit the home stretch.
From here on out, it’s all about playoff positioning for some and getting the young bucks some
burn for others. This year, things were surprisingly slow; only a few teams made any deals, and
there weren’t any huge last minute deals involving big name players. The past two seasons
saw Chris Webber and Rasheed Wallace get moved in last minute deals that shocked
everyone; no such luck this year. This year it was all about spare parts being exchanged
between teams in the second tier of the playoff chase, like Denver, Cleveland, and New
Orleans.

One team, however, did manage to stray away from the pack and make some bold moves, the
likes of which will alter its fortunes for the next several seasons. That team is the New York
Knicks, currently being run (into the ground) by Hall of Famer Isaiah Thomas. Thomas has
made a series of acquisitions that have resulted in the Knicks roster being filled with several big
name, high profile players. Unfortunately for Knicks fans like me, these players also happen to
be vastly overpaid and vastly overrated. The names read like a who’s who of guys who are
getting way too much money for way too many years. But that’s not all; many of these players
were traded for players with contracts that were expiring after this season. So not only did
Thomas add a bunch of bloated salaries, he got rid of contracts that he could have let expire so
the Knicks could have some space under the salary cap next season. But wait, it gets worse.
He’s also committed the cardinal sin of giving out contracts that were more lucrative than any
other offers people were receiving. For committing these transgressions, I’m officially giving
Zeke the title of worst GM ever. The case is open shut after last week’s Steve Francis trade,
and I’ll show you why.

The primary responsibility of a general manger in any sport is to acquire players for the team,
preferably good ones who don’t cost too much. There are three ways to do this: the draft,
trades, and free agency. While Thomas has been very good at drafting players for both of the
teams he has run (as GM in Toronto he picked Damon Stoudamire, Marcus Camby, and Tracy
McGrady), when it comes to trades and free agency he is downright awful. And seeing as how
those two parts of the job are the least dependent on luck, unlike the draft where a ping pong
ball in a hopper can be the difference between you getting to pick a no-brainer like Tim Duncan
and getting stuck with Austin Croshere, they are a bigger real gauge on whether or not you
know what you’re doing. And after further review, it’s clear that Thomas has no clue how to run
a team. He has repeatedly swapped who made good economic sense to keep around for ones
that don’t, and hasn’t improved the quality of the team in the process. It’s one thing to
overspend on top notch players that will get you to the promised land of the NBA Finals, but
Thomas has done no such thing. His fiscal insanity has been resulted in a slew of me-first
players more concerned with their individual stat line that with the final score of the game. The
results have been disastrous; the Knicks often get blown out, even at home, by teams of
varying quality. They currently have the second worst record in the league despite having the
highest payroll by far, and have nothing that seems like any kind of real plan in place. Fans are
willing to sit through one or several seasons of losing if there is some method to the madness,
like breaking young players in or getting under the salary cap to sign some big time free agents
in a year or two. But that’s clearly not the case here; Thomas has ruined any chances of
financial flexibility over the next several years and hindered any chances of a real youth
movement beyond the three rookies they brought in this year by trading away their next two first
round picks. So they’re screwed today, and screwed tomorrow as well. Nice job, Zeke.

The financial ineptitude this man displays is downright awful. Rule number one in acquiring
players is that you must avoid high overpaid players at all cost, unless their contracts are in up
within a year or two. Zeke has broken that rule in embarrassing fashion. Right now he has six
players who will be making over $8 million a year through 2009, including two who will be doing
so until 2011. And to make matter worse, these are guys who aren’t winners, who won’t get you
the big game let alone win one. No one else is going to want to these guys until the last year of
their respective contracts, which means the Knicks are going to be stuck with all of them until
2008 at the earliest. What’s really stupid about the whole thing is that many of these guys are
all players who had been correctly labeled as overpaid years ago. Stephon Marbury, Jalen
Rose, Maurice Taylor, Steve Francis, and Quentin Richardson all signed huge six and seven
year contracts with their previous teams only to reveal a year or two in that they weren’t as
good as their names or stat lines would have you believe. This was not top secret information;
everybody knew this, so how on earth do you acquire not one or two, but all five of these guys?

And if that wasn’t bad enough, Zeke added to the problem by giving big contracts to guys who
hadn’t cashed in yet, but had proven their mediocrity as players.........

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