As you've probably heard, there have been some rumors about a possible return by a former front-office executive.
With Donnie Walsh's age/health concerns, and the fact that he's coming to the conclusion of his three-year contract, there has been all kinds of speculation as to who could be the replacement. Kevin Pritchard, who was wrongfully terminated in a Dan-Gilbert-mental-breakdown-esq maneuver by Paul Allen is available - the same Kevin Pritchard that turned the Jailblazers into a consistent Western contender over the last five years. But, the name on everyone's mind is... Isiah?
I understand that Isiah is BFF's with the worst owner in professional sports (James Dolan), and they've obviously stayed close. But, when I've heard Knicks' fans including some of the most respected P&Ters actually sound OK with the notion of bringing Isiah back, I couldn't help but feel like I was in some parallel universe.
Isiah, guys? Seriously?
This is what I will do to myself if Isiah is re-hired as GM
The common Isiah-defender line is "well, he was a GREAT Draft talent evaluator!" While I agree that Isiah has had a pretty good eye for talent, I do think that things get a bit overblown. Sure this is a guy that rolled the dice on a high school kid named Tracy McGrady in Toronto, and got value out of late pick-ups like Wilson Chandler (23rd overall, 2007), David Lee (30th overall, 2005), Trevor Ariza (44th overall, 2004). But, let's not make Isiah out to be the 2nd coming of Bill Polian (for those that don't know, the Colts' GM that has drafted Manning, Wayne, Freeney, Clark, etc.). He missed badly on both of the 2006 draftees, including the laughable selection of Renaldo Balkman - I loved Humpty as much as the rest of you, but that pick was the reach of all reaches - and cyborg Mardy Collins (a cyborg that no one programmed how to shoot a basketball).
However, draft history aside, who cares if Isiah was a great Draft evaluator? Last time I checked, an NBA General Manager doesn't just draft players, he (or she I guess) also makes trades and has to manage the cap. Isiah Thomas completely and magnificently failed in the latter two categories.
The worst move of Isiah's tenure was undoubtedly the trade for Eddy Curry. Thomas gave up the #2 pick in 2006 (LaMarcus Aldridge) and the #9 pick in 2007 (Joakim Noah) in the deal. Did I mention he then extended Curry for $60 million over six years? Curry's deal also forced the Knicks to take a bath on the deadline-deal with Houston to free up the cap space for this summer.
Isiah undid one of those aforementioned great Draft moves, shipping Trevor Ariza for the partially-deceased Steve Francis and the two years/$28 million left on his deal. He derailed what was a somewhat promising 2003-04 season by prematurely shipping Keith Van Horn to Milwaukee for Tim Thomas. He traded for Jalen Rose (cost them $34 million in salary/luxury tax), then cut him three months before his $16.9M expiring contract would've been a nice trade chip. He spent the full MLE ($30 million) on Jared Jeffries and Jerome James. I like Jamal Crawford as much as the next guy, but was he really worth four expiring contracts and taking on $81 million in salary?
And there was that little sexual harassment suit...
My point is that Isiah already had his chance to run this team and to clean up the mess by the more incompetent (believe it or not) Scott Layden and he failed spectacularly.
If Jimbo wants to welcome his friend back, the fine. But, hire Isiah as a scout, not as a General Manager. I want the Knicks to move forward, not backwards.