Win by Losing: The Solution for the New York Knicks

J. AlexanderCorrespondent IDecember 20, 2007

IconIt's pretty clear what people in New York think:

Isiah Thomas has to go.

The Knicks have been outright awful in the past six seasons. They made the playoffs by default with a 39-43 record in 2003-04, and since then have enjoyed seasons of 33, 23, and 33 wins.

New York currently boasts a record of 8-17—just one game ahead of the Heat for worst team in the East.

While Larry Brown was the coach of the abysmal 23-59 team in 2005-06, at least he wasn't the GM. Thomas has put together a combination of thugs and selfish players with a collective basketball IQ near zero.

Now, when the Knicks lose, Thomas refuses to blame himself.

I don't blame Thomas so much for his coaching (which is bad) as for his stubborn insistence that these are the right players to get the job done. The past four seasons speaks for themselves. The only problem is that Knicks win just often enough for Isiah to keep his job

The Knicks endured a nine-game losing streak in November this year, and it seemed like Thomas would finally be ousted.  But New York rebounded with wins against the Bulls and Jazz. After losing 105-59 against the Celtics following the Utah win, the team then mounted a huge fourth-quarter comeback against the Bucks, leaving the Garden crowd in a frenzy.

Those sorts of bright spots make the Knicks seem almost fixed—and so Isiah gets a reprieve. If the players really want Thomas fired (and given his track record you have to think they do), playing to lose might be an unfortunate but inevitable option.

A major problem is that Thomas refuses to bite the bullet and admit that the players getting the most money simply aren't performing. Guys like Stephon Marbury, Eddy Curry, and Zach Randolph have been cancerous.  While they're all gifted offensively, they're undeniably selfish, and do little, if anything, on the defensive end.

Playing Curry and Randolph together is absolutely pointless, as the two are essentially the same player, with Zach being slightly more athletic.

If the Knicks were smart, they'd start over with a temporary lineup of Mardy Collins, Jamal Crawford, David Lee, Zach Randolph, and Jerome James (don't laugh).

Collins is an unselfish point guard who'd look to help his team instead of heaving three's like Starbury.

Crawford has led the team in scoring in five of the eight wins this year, and is the one guy on the squad who can really excite the crowd at MSG.

Lee is unquestionably the hustle guy on this team, and every group needs one. Why he doesn't play more is beyond me.

Randolph is a good option offensively if he's coupled with a solid defensive big man—such as Jerome James.

While James might never score 10 a game this season, he proved in the 2004-05 playoffs that he can defend and rebound with the best of them—giving Tim Duncan, Nazr Mohammed, and the Spurs all they could handle in the low post.

With that starting five, Renaldo Balkman and Quentin Richardson could be hustle guys and scorers off the bench. I'm not saying this team would necessarily win any more games with this lineup—but they'd sure look better losing. 

And maybe, just maybe, Isiah would finally get the hook.