NBA Opinions With Malice – New York State of Mind

26 11 2007

First in a series exploring NBA franchises that find themselves either in a good position, a cross-roads, or are finding themselves in difficulty.
Today, we’ll look at perhaps the the most dysfunctional franchise in the NBA, the New York Knicks…


Franchise in serious trouble…A storied franchise within the NBA, playing in the most famous of all NBA venues – Madison Square Gardens, one wonders where this team got lost.
The Knicks were placed by Forbes Magazine as the most valuable NBA franchise, given a worth of $592 million, $24 million ahead of the nearest rival – the Los Angeles Lakers (NBA Team Valuations,  Still quite a bit short of the $1.2 billion price tag Forbes puts on the Yankees, but a tidy sum none-the-less.  The highest payroll in basketball, yet not only are they not in contention for a title, the playoffs look way beyond them.  They are a collection of over-paid misfits, spare-parts and potential-gone-bad.  Coached/managed by a guy that I’d not let near a high school team.

Still, despite the supposed value, this group (one hesitates to call them a ‘team’) has become a byword in NBA circles for ‘dysfunctional’… their coach/GM Isiah Thomas famous for making bad decisions… and in general, a veritable soap opera of drama.  Any time I hear of either a meltdown by an NBA player I think “Knicks?”. 
Was anyone truly surprised with the recent dramas surrounding Stephon Marbury & Isiah?  I bet not.  Just yet another indication of a franchise spiraling wildly out of control.

At the MVN New York Knick blog, Father Knickerbocker, Alex Benesowitz wrote a pretty frank piece on the state of the Knicks – ‘8 Straight, and Dolan Can’t Wait‘.  Benesowitz rightly declares that
Isiah Thomas ponders what the future holds…“I know it’s only November, but Dolan – you can not be loyal to Isiah anymore if you want to save this season.” 
I’d go a bit further than that tho’: in keeping Thomas and maintaining the current status quo at New York, Dolan risks putting the team in a far deeper hole than merely ‘this season’. 
Where the team currently finds itself is further highlighted by Benesowitz’s declaration that Zach Randolph is the team’s best player… a player that the Portland Trail Blazers could not wait to part with – as part of their shedding the ‘Jail Blazer’ image… despite his production.

Righting the ship is going to be no small task.  And it’s a task that will be measured in years, rather than considering if this season is salvageable.  Without a doubt, the first thing Dolan must do is part ways with former Detroit Bad Boy, Isiah Thomas.  Never has a nick-name been so appropriate.  Compare his front office career to that of former team-mate Joe Dumars and the contrast is laughable. 

Isiah has to go, should’ve been cast out long ago – even prior to the Anucha Browne Sanders sexual harassment suit.  Post that, clearly, it was time for Isiah to depart.  But James Dolan has kept Thomas in place. 

New York is enraged.  Fans chant “Fire Isiah” at games. 
New York Post columnist Mike Vaccaro sums it up in his vitriolic piece ‘TAKE THIS TEAM AND SHOVE IT!‘:
“They inspire anger. They inspire hatred.”
The very fact that Stephon Marbury can hold Isiah ransom in regards to playing time, tells me that there’s even deeper, darker secrets that Thomas doesn’t want seeing the light of day.  And given what we already know, that’s pretty scary. 
Dolan has to bite the bullet and sever all ties with Isiah Thomas, and now.  Every minute that Thomas remains the leader of this organisation causes further damage.

Despite playing marginally better basketball than some other teams in the league, I cannot think of a franchise in a worse position.  Minnesota have Al Jefferson, Miami have Dwayne Wade and Pat Riley, the Chicago Bulls are obviously a better team than current results would indicate. 
What do the Knicks have to offer? 
Bloated contracts, players cast out from other teams, and David Lee.  The thing is, Lee Cancerous Affliction…plus spare parts and huge contracts isn’t going to get you much at the moment.  When Kobe-trade-talk/destinations were the order of the day for media/blogs, Isiah declaring for Bryant was laughable.  What could they have offered for him that would’ve piqued LA interest?  Stephon Marbury with $19 million & two years?  Eddie Curry with nearly $9 million/3 years?  Jamal Crawford – nigh on $8 million for 4 years?  Malik Rose: over $7million and 2 more years?  Jerome James/Jared Jeffries with $5.6 mil++???
What a joke.
The Knicks have made themselves a repository for the overpaid/underperformed.  Very few of those above named have anything remotely resembling value for the money they are paid.  Those bloated contracts only become attractive in their final year, and even then for a team that’s willing to either suck it up and wear those players for a year, or buy them out immediately.

Some of those contracts will be shed.  Fred Jones is in his last year ($3.3 million), and Stephon Marbury, Malik Rose, Jerome James, plus others only have 2 years left.  Possibilities arise for deals with teams wanting monetary space, or the Knicks could suck it up & clear enough space to make offers of their own. 
Make no mistake tho’ – rebuilding the New York Knicks into a viable franchise is going to take years, and is not going to be easy.

First things first tho’: James Dolan must fire Isiah Thomas.  Only then can the amelioration of the Knicks begin.

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5 responses

27 11 2007
Joey Rosario

First off, Isiah has got to go. That guy is not a coach. And with his off-field problems, I don’t see why in the world Dolan is still standing by this guy. Then the Knicks need to do whatever it takes to dump Marbury. That guy is a cancer wherever he goes. Nets was a struggling team when he was there until they traded his butt to Phoenix for Jason Kidd. The same thing happened in Suns. The team isn’t going anywhere with him and rightly so for trading him to the Knicks. His selfishness was apparent the moment he forced his way out of T-Wolves because he couldn’t stand being in the shadow of KG.

Then the Knicks need to rebuild and dump big contract guy; and not for other big contract. The Knicks had a habit of trading a high-salary contract for an even longer higher-salary contract. None of the players in its roster is a franchise player and I hope they learn their lesson before giving a new contract to players like Zach and Curry, which won’t happen for another 4 years. Ouch. You can add Quentin (3) and Crawford (4) to that list.

Malik Rose might be a good asset at the end of the season for a team who wants to dump a big contract. At $7.5 million next season, I am sure there will be takers.

27 11 2007

Hey Joey! Glad you commented! 😉

Yeah, some good suggestions. The Knicks have a number of expiring contracts over the next two seasons – and maybe even Starbury becomes attractive with that… maybe…
They can get into shape, but as said: Isiah has to go.

I believe they should dump Thomas, and hire a ‘caretaker’ guy… someone not too famous, not too difficult to shuffle off in a year or so. 1-2 year contract. Get stuff in shape then bring in a favoured son… someone like Ewing (he’s currently an assistant at Orlando).

28 11 2007
Joey Rosario

Check this Yahoo Sports article out on why Dolan won’t fire Isiah. Not yet at least.

Knicks owner not concerned with winning

28 11 2007

Yeah… Adrian Wojnarowski…
I rarely put much stock in what he says. He writes opinions, and while he may have better info than either you or me, he flips famously from one argument to the opposite. Check out these other Wojnarowski ‘gems’…
Only winning will save Thomas’ job
Marbury’s exit could lead to Thomas’ departure

30 11 2007
Isiah’s Swansong? « With Malice…

[…] I stated in the comments section of NBA Opinions With Malice – New York State of Mind, “…they should dump Thomas, and hire a ‘caretaker’ guy… someone not too famous, […]

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