In my original post about the Knicks’ unimaginable rehiring of Isiah Thomas, I mistakenly assumed that Donnie Walsh and Isiah were buds from their Indiana days together, and thus that Walsh was on board with this move. Luckily, word has come that Walsh is as wise as he seems: he apparently almost quit when he heard about James Dolan’s insane decision. The Daily News reported that:
“Donnie finds this entire thing distasteful,” said one NBA source. “He’s had second thoughts about staying but he wants to finish the job.”
[...] Dolan’s insistence on giving Thomas the ambiguous title of consultant angered Walsh, who for two years has been trying to hire former St. John’s All-American Chris Mullin as general manager. Dolan has refused to sign off on hiring Mullin.
The Daily News doesn’t always have the best of reporting, so while Walsh’s interest in conceivably hiring Mullin has been documented, take it with a huge grain of salt, heck, take it with a whole tablespoon of salt, that Walsh definitively tried to hire Mullin and Walsh flat out said no for two whole years. However, Walsh’s justifiable anger over the hiring of Isiah has been supported by ESPN:
Thankfully, Coach Mike D’Antoni as well as many other high-level Knick execs, have all been against this decision, with many of them trying their hardest to dissuade Dolan from going through with it. At least that means only the owner of the team is completely clueless. But we already knew this. Wait, did I just intimate that it’s better to have the owner, the man most in charge, to be the most incompetent man around? This is what being a Knick fan reduces you to.
According to the Daily News (again, swallow this with a whole cup of salt – yup, not very tasty is it?), Dolan even forced Walsh to say Thomas helped recruit Amar’e Stoudemire when Isiah had nothing to do with it. Stoudemire’s agent (that’s right, the wonderfully named Happy Walters!) has said that Amar’e had never even met Isiah until he attended Dolan’s July 4th party, by which time it was already publicly known that the Knicks were Stat’s team o’ preference.
I’d also assumed that Dolan just rehired Thomas ‘cuz they were buds, but it turns out the situation could be even worse: Dolan also seems to be strongly following/believing Isiah’s advice. According to the Daily Salt Lick News, Isiah’s claimed that Walsh and D’Antoni will be unable to recruit Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul, but that he, Thomas, has the rep/street cred to bring in them big fish. Ughh. How can Dolan fall for that? Yes, the sheen on D’Antoni’s gone since he left the Suns, but Walsh has a sterling rep in the league.
In the ESPN article mentioned in the above video, Ian O’ Connor correctly says that NBA commissioner David Stern should negate Isiah’s contract due to a conflict of interest between Thomas holding jobs in both the NBA and the NCAA simultaneously. However, as he points out, no team is likely to make a stink about it because they’ve all gotta be thrilled to have the incompetent Thomas back in the NBA. The Washington Wizards must be jumping with joy now that Gilbert Arenas’ contract is no longer unmovable. The Raptors have called to see if we’re interested in taking on the insane $29 billion-trillion deals they made with Jose Calderon and Amir Johnson. Minnesota’s David Kahn did a victory lap, relieved to no longer be the clear-cut dumbest exec in the NBA. If, on the other hand, the Knicks had hired say Mike Krzyzewski as a consultant, there would be an uproar.
However, as much as us Knick fans pray for it, it seems unlikely that Stern will nullify this contract. If I’m the owner of another team, I wait a bit to see if this is allowed to happen. Then once precedent has been set, I do go after a Krzyzewski-type strong. This would only add to Isiah’s impressive legacy, allowing him to strengthen other teams this time before he even gets to make a dumb trade.