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How Isiah Thomas Would Ruin the NY Knicks in 5 Simple Steps

Stephen BabbFeatured ColumnistJanuary 9, 2017

How Isiah Thomas Would Ruin the NY Knicks in 5 Simple Steps

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    He's done it before, and he'd do it again.

    The last thing the New York Knicks need right now is Isiah Thomas' consultation. Unless James Dolan is looking to make Thomas an unprecedentedly high-profile ball boy, his job offer is as ill-founded as you'd expect any Dolan decision to be.

    And yet, the New York Daily News' Frank Isola reports that Thomas is the one with cold feet:

    According to a source close to the former Knicks president, Thomas and Garden chairman James Dolan have had numerous discussions about a position in the organization, but Thomas has been reluctant to accept the job offer.

    Yep, you read that right.

    We can only hope that Thomas' reluctance is an act of mercy, that his conscience simply cannot bear the knowledge that he'd ruin NYC's best title chance in over a decade. Surely, he's not just waiting for the right time, right?

    Wrong, at least if you believe Isola's source, who goes on to claim that Thomas isn't, "ready to jump back into the NBA just yet."

    Just yet? Really? Is he waiting for people to forget about what happened the last time he took his talents to the Big Apple?

    Let's recap, shall we? When the legendary Piston came to the Knicks in 2003, the organization was already headed in the wrong direction. Rather than changing direction, though, Thomas hit the gas pedal.

    He traded a handful of draft picks for Eddy Curry (one of which turned into Joakim Noah, and the other—briefly—into LaMarcus Aldridge) and then gave Curry $60 million to stick around a while longer. He also dumped undeserved money on center Jerome James on account of the fact that he'd had one pretty decent playoff series.

    At one point, Thomas had maneuvered his way into saddling New York's backcourt with Stephon Marbury, a rapidly declining Steve Francis, Jamal Crawford, Jalen Rose and Nate Robinson. Unsurprisingly, that platoon of shoot-first guards led the Knicks to a 23-59 record in 2005-06.

    That was pretty much par for the course under Thomas' watch.

    So what would he do this time, albeit in a less prominent (or less visible) role?

Trade Iman Shumpert

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    Young, inexpensive talent that the New York Knicks could actually build around over the long-term?

    Isiah Thomas won't have any part of that.

    After all, second-year guard Iman Shumpert could probably be thrown into a package that would fetch any manner of declining star with plenty of baggage and fading celebrity. What's taking NYC so long to make this happen?

    Well, Thomas doesn't have a job yet. He can only whisper sweet nothings to pal James Dolan, and it wouldn't be at all surprising for him to be devising yet another way to mortgage the team's future in pursuit of short-term mediocrity.

    Though he's recovering from a torn ACL, Shumpert is the best prospect on New York's roster and already proving that he's far more than a prospect. His perimeter defense is exceptional and his perimeter shooting isn't bad at all.

    Somewhere, Thomas is in a lair petting his evil cat to the music of his own sinister laughter, plotting a way to steal Shumpert from the fans he's already looted so thoroughly.

Trade Another Decade's Worth of Draft Picks

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    It's really sort of a miracle that the New York Knicks even drafted Iman Shumpert in 2011. 

    It implies they actually had a pick with which to draft him—that is, a pick that hadn't already been traded like the ones that landed Eddy Curry or a broken-down Tracy McGrady. You can forgive the Los Angeles Lakers for handing out draft picks like they're Halloween candy, and that's because they're already good.

    Making the most of their current roster makes sense, even if it means building talent internally over the long haul is a bit more difficult.

    Thomas traded draft picks in an effort to instantaneously turn around a struggling franchise, and the results weren't pretty. There was no turnaround, and there were no draft picks.

    What could have been a relatively painless rebuilding process turned into a protracted nightmare, and the aftershocks are felt to this day. New York didn't have a first-round pick in 2010 or this summer, which is why the organization has to rely on band-aid solution role players to fill in the rotation's gaps.

    As veterans like Jason Kidd and Marcus Camby move on, who knows what will come down the pipeline. It probably won't be promising youngsters on rookie contracts though.

Break Up the Core

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    There's a compelling case to be made that Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony will never share the best of chemistry on the court. If one of them is going to go anywhere, you better believe it's Stoudemire.

    On the one hand, Isiah Thomas would be pained to trade away such a big name given his apparent conviction that it's big names that win championships. On the other hand, he's equally opposed to allowing a core to develop over time.

    His tenure was one of constant flux. The Knicks became a way station for wayward talent rather than a unit benefiting from any shape or form of continuity.

    It was as if Thomas had watched the San Antonio Spurs' formula for sustainable success and reasoned he could do better by doing the exact opposite.

Re-Hire Mike D'Antoni

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    Mike Woodson is the New York Knicks' seventh head coach since Isiah Thomas rose to power in 2003. Granted, Thomas wasn't around for all of those coaching changes.

    At least, not officially.

    Who knows what strings he pulls with James Dolan?

    But the norm in New York is a disturbing one, and Thomas played a role in defining that pattern during the 2000s—quite obviously to the detriment of the Knicks' ability to get on the same page. When things go wrong, coaches often take on the lion's share of undeserved blame.

    The Knicks certainly aren't the only organization that's fallen prey to this kind of counterproductive scapegoating, but they have done their part.

    Despite the fact that the Knicks have played well under Woodson, and despite the fact he's made the defense qualitatively better, he'll be the first one to hear about it when NYC hits a rough patch. Were it Thomas' decision, heads would begin rolling at the first sign of trouble.

    We wouldn't want anyone to think the front office and its locker room full of overpaid talent were to blame, now would we?

Make J.R. Smith Mega Rich

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    After making some trades, changing coaches and complementing himself in the mirror for his irresistible charm, Isiah Thomas would immediately turn his attention to the collective bargaining agreement's new rules for contract extensions.

    Studying up is always a good plan, but Thomas would be interested in one thing and one thing alone: How much money we could legally pay J.R. Smith.

    The more, the better. Who cares what kind of price the market would set? Smith can score, but he's proven time and time again that he'll probably never be a legitimate star. 

    Sounds like Thomas' kind of guy. 

    NYC currently has Smith at a bargain rate of under $3 million, but that means the Knicks are spending less money than they could be spending, and this so-called "frugality" never sat very well with Thomas.

    Time for a max extension!

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