The owner of the New York Knicks, James Dolan, is an idiot. Most Knicks fans have long suspected that this was the case, but the re-hiring of Isiah Thomas proves it.
The reign of Isiah Thomas was an unmitigated disaster. As the general manager of the Knicks, Isiah managed to make the team worse in virtually every move he made outside of the draft. As a person, Isiah managed to get sued for sexual harassment and lose, costing the Knicks $11.6 million.
However, there are those who actually believe that Isiah is a good evaluator of talent and in the right role could be useful.
In response, I remind those people that when Isiah was taken to the hospital because it was believed that he tried to kill himself, he tried to blame his teenage daughter. The man has no morals and no shame.
However, in the interest of fairness, this article will review and analyze each move made by Thomas while he was in charge to see whether or not it was a good move. I promise to be fair.
First things first, the Knicks were in bad shape when he took over from Scott Layden. The team was over the cap and had mostly mediocre talent that was just good enough to keep the team from getting a high draft pick.
The smart GM would have sold off every player he could to accumulate draft picks in hopes of creating some excitement for the future while getting under the cap to hopefully land a quality player either through free agency or a trade.
So here are the player moves in chronological order:
1. Moochie Norris, John Amaechi acquired for Clarence Weatherspoon. Amaechi was cut shortly thereafter. This deal did nothing, but got rid of Weatherspoon. So, this move was neither positive nor negative.
2. Stephon Marbury, Anfernee Hardaway, Cezary Trybanski acquired for Antonio McDyess, Maciej Lampe, Howard Eisley, Charlie Ward, rights to Milos Vujanic, 2004 first-round pick (No. 16-Kirk Snyder), first-round pick (protected top 25 in 2006, top 24 in 2007, top 23 in 2008, top 22 in 2009, unprotected 2010) (2010 No. 9-Gordon Hayward) and $3M. A lot of people liked this deal at the time, but I hated it. In hindsight, it looks even worse.
At the time, the Knicks were 14-21 and headed for the lottery. Thomas gave the Suns cap room and draft picks. The Knicks barely made the playoffs with Marbury and were promptly swept. If they had continued to play at that pace, they would have finished with the fourth worst record and drafted no lower then seventh, where Luol Deng and Andre Iguadola were available. If they had gotten lucky and won the lottery, then they could have drafted Dwight Howard.
This trade keeps getting worse with hindsight.
3. Tim Thomas, Nazr Mohammed acquired for Keith Van Horn, Michael Doleac and 2005 second round pick (No. 37-Ronny Turiaf). The Knicks were actually playing well at this point. Mohammed was not bad, but Thomas provided less than Van Horn at the time and Turiaf is now the likely starting center for the Knicks in 2010-11.
This deal was not devastating to the Knicks, but overall did more harm than good.
4. Kurt Thomas signed to a four-year, $30 million extension. Kurt was a solid player, but should have been traded. His deal was going to expire and the Knicks should have tried to turn him into a draft pick at the least. Instead, this deal tied up the cap unnecessarily.
5. With the 43rd pick, the Knicks draft Trevor Ariza. This pick was fantastic. He is clearly better than any of the players drafted after him. Isiah did a great job with this pick. This pick is one the main reasons why people think Isiah can be useful.
6. Jamal Crawford, Jerome Williams acquired for Othella Harrington, Frank Williams, Dikembe Mutombo, Cezary Trybanski. The Knicks traded away a bunch of expiring contracts for Jamal Crawford and Jerome Williams, including their best center at the time in Mutombo.
Williams hurt the Knicks cap for years and while Crawford is a good player, he is a 6th man at best on a good team because of his inability to play good defense. Overall, this was a bad deal because of the cap ramifications, but not horrible.
7. Malik Rose, 2005 first round pick (top 21 protected 2005-09) (No. 30-David Lee), 2006 first round pick (top 10 protected) (2006 No. 29-Mardy Collins), cash (Rose's trade kicker) acquired for Nazr Mohammed, Jamison Brewer.
I did not like this trade at the time because Mohammed was the only size the Knicks had and was playing decently. However, this trade turned out well because David Lee became an all-star. This is the second good move by Isiah. Not enough to out-weigh the horrible Marbury trade, but still good.
8. Maurice Taylor acquired for Moochie Norris, Vin Baker, 2006 second round pick (No. 32-Steve Novak). Other than hurting the cap some more, this trade was no big deal.
9. The Knicks draft Channing Frye with the No. 8 overall pick.
Frye is a decent player, but the wrong pick. Frye had the reputation of being a soft big man who did not like to get physical. He preferred shooting jump shots to posting up players. He was also not considered a great athlete. He has lived up to that pre-draft view.
This was Isiah's only lottery pick and he blew it. Isiah wanted to draft size, which was not a bad thought, although there were already rumors about going after Eddy Curry. However, there was a much better center in the draft available with this pick in Andrew Bynum.
Bynum was a true center who was viewed as raw and athletic, but physical. Even though Bynum has been hurt a lot, he is a force in the middle when he plays. What makes this worse is that Isiah later admitted that he liked Bynum, but thought that New York fans would not have the patience to see him develop.
This was one of Isiah's big mistakes.
10. New York acquires Quentin Richardson, the draft rights to Nate Robinson and cash from Phoenix for Kurt Thomas and the draft rights to Dijon Thompson.
Nate provided a lot of exciting moments, but Richardson arrived with a bad back and was never in good physical shape. However, there were several players who were better at that spot, such as David Lee, Monta Ellis and Andray Blatche.
The trade has to be looked at as an overall positive, but the Knicks probably could have gotten more if they had traded Thomas before signing him to an extension.
11. The Knicks draft David Lee with the 29th pick. This was a great pick. Lee turned into one of the best rebounders in the NBA. This is the second main reason why people think Isiah has some value.
12. Jerome James signed to a reported five-year, $30 million contract. And, this is one of the main exhibits for why Thomas should never be put in charge of a franchise. James played hard in one playoff series and was otherwise known as a lazy player. Thomas gave him the full mid-level exception and he was a huge waste of space.
13. Eddy Curry, Antonio Davis, Bulls conditional right to swap 2007 first round picks (No. 23-Wilson Chandler) acquired for Tim Thomas, Michael Sweetney, Jermaine Jackson, 2006 1st round pick (No. 2-LaMarcus Aldridge), Bulls option to swap 2007 1st round picks (No. 9-Joakim Noah ), 2007 2nd round pick (No. 38-Kyrylo Fesenko), 2009 2nd round pick (No. 38-Jon Brockman).
This trade was the epitome of the disaster that was Thomas. He viewed Eddy Curry as a franchise center when no other team, including the Bulls actually wanted him. So, he did not lottery protect the picks and gave the Bulls cap space.
Curry was a player whose heart was questioned both literally and figuratively at the time. Even at his best, he was a poor rebounder and shot blocker whose offensive abilities were diminished by his high turnover rate. There is no way that Isiah can be deemed a good talent evaluator when looking at this trade.
This trade set up the Bulls to contend and destroyed the Knicks future.
14. Jalen Rose, 2006 first round pick (No. 20-Renaldo Balkman)and cash acquired for Antonio Davis. I liked this trade and still do even though Isiah overpaid for the pick. Davis was done and Rose had only one extra year on his deal when the Knicks were still over the cap. The only real negative was that Thomas screwed up the pick.
15. Steve Francis acquired for Trevor Ariza and Anfernee Hardaway. This was the third major disaster trade of Isiah's reign. Francis was done as a player and also was essentially the same player as Marbury. So, the Knicks gave up on a promising young small forward for nothing but headaches.
16. With the 20th pick, the Knicks draft Renaldo Balkman. After Marbury got hurt in the season before, it was evident that the Knicks had two major needs, a quality back up point guard and a shot blocking big man.
So, with Rajon Rondo on the board, the Knicks take a player who could not shoot or dribble with his head up. Balkman could defend and rebound, but little else. He was not even listed among the possible draft picks by the NBA. The pick was universally panned at the time the Knicks made the pick. Balkman was the classic athlete to be drafted in the second round due to a lack of skill.
In addition to Rondo, the Knicks also passed up on Kyle Lowry, Shannon Brown, Jordan Farmar and Sergio Rodriguez. This pick was the second time Isiah reached for a player in the draft and hurt the future of the team.
17. With the 29th pick, the Knicks selected Mardy Collins. Collins was a curious choice because he was not very athletic and could not shoot. So, there was little upside. As noted above, Isiah basically missed all of the good point guards to choose Balkman. Paul Millsap and Leon Powe were available and would have been much better picks.
18. Jared Jeffries signed as restricted free agent (from Wizards) to a five-year, $30M contract. This signing was awful for three reasons. First, the Knicks just drafted Balkman to be the defensive stopper. Second, the Knicks already had a better player on the roster in Ime Udoka. And, third, they paid too much money for a player who is essentially useless on offense.
19. Randolph Morris signed to a reported two-year, $1.6M contract. This was a reasonable gamble that did not work out.
20. With the 23rd pick, the Knicks select Wilson Chandler. Of course, this should have been the No. 9 pick, but in light of the choices, it was a good pick. The other good options were Aaron Brooks, Rudy Fernandez, Marc Gasol, Carl Landry, Kyrylo Fesenko and Ramon Sessions. And, of this group, only Gasol and Brooks look like they will definitely be better players.
21. Zach Randolph, Fred Jones, Dan Dickau, rights to Demetris Nichols acquired for Steve Francis, Channing Frye, 2008 second round pick (No. 36-Omer Asik).
While Randolph played well for the Knicks, he was a bad fit. On offense, he was essentially a left handed version of Eddy Curry. So, by acquiring him, Isiah destroyed Curry's confidence and his trade value. And, by this time, it was clear that there was going to be a free agency bonanza after the 2009-10 season and Randolph's large contract went to 2011. And, Isiah gave up on his only lottery pick.
It was a bad trade that led to more bad things for the Knicks.
So, in looking at Isiah's acquisitions—though the draft, free agency, and by trade—Isiah gets a failing grade. He had some moderate success in the draft, but missed as much as he succeeded. His trades were mostly horrible with a couple of exceptions. He never signed a free agent that he did not overpay.
Basically, no team should want Isiah Thomas anywhere near the front office and James Dolan wants him back.
That is why James Dolan is an idiot and Knicks fans have lost what little hope they had for the future.
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