Yes, it’s true. Isiah Thomas has been hired as a consultant for the Knicks. I thought he already was a consultant with limited influence, but I guess he has Dolan’s official imprimatur on the role now.
And most people are pissed. A 56-108 coaching record will have that affect. Not to mention a pretty repugnant performance as solely President and GM, a role in which he posted a similar record.
But then again, even though I enjoyed the month that the Knicks weren’t a laughingstock, I don’t own the team. All I can do is look at the situation and hope for the best. We’ve read on Twitter from Alan Hahn and Steven A. Smith that Isiah has great rapport with star players (though that doesn’t really accomplish anything if you have no cap space). [ Tommy Dee tweeted that this is fantasy]. And it may be. Anyway, it shouldn’t matter. Player$ only care about one thing. So I’m hoping for the best case scenario, which is that Isiah just wants to rehabilitate his image, and Dolan wants to help him.
Along these lines, I hope at most that Isiah will just bask in some of the success the Knicks are about to have, wrongfully take Walsh’s credit (as he already has), and land a gig somewhere else. That would be ideal. The next best outcome would be a sustained role as a scout/pitchman because Isiah, for all his faults, was pretty adept at identifying talent. ESPN.com named him the number 2 drafter of the last 20 years [Insider link]. I guess I could live with that.
What I absolutely don’t want to see is Isiah back as President/Coach/GM or any role with significant decision making responsibility. He had that role once and he failed. Miserably. It is of no solace to me, as some Zeke defenders point out, that Scott Layden was also atrocious. Knicks’ fans have lived through two horrible diseases and I would welcome neither one back.
Like the roach though Isiah has proven to be above all else a survivor. And he has unbridled ambition. I have no faith that he sees his long term role in the NBA as “part time consultant”.
So I can’t say I’m happy about Isiah’s return. If it was up to me I’d have left the page turned-like it is for Layden. It took 2 years for Donnie Walsh to undo Isiah’s damage. The entire subtext of Walsh’s tenure was a repudiation of the job Isiah did. And in these 2 years other people within the organization, like Allan Houston, have been paying their dues, waiting for their turns.
All in all while I do think Isiah has something to offer the Knicks, if I was Donnie Walsh I’d feel more than a little insulted right about now. And I’d be careful for snakes in the grass.