Isiah Thomas teaches James Dolan and Steve Mills the secret of basketball (Ray Amati/ Getty).
As noted by our Y! Sports colleague Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger, Isiah Thomas has been relieved of his duties as head coach of the Florida International basketball program. In his three years, the Panthers went just 26-65 and never managed to capitalize on his celebrity to lure prospects and fans to a mid-major team.
Yet, despite coaching in Miami for three seasons, Thomas has remained on the minds of NBA fans, specifically those of the New York Knicks. Although he was an unmitigated disaster in his time as Knicks personnel boss, Thomas has reportedly been a trusted adviser for owner James Dolan and might have even played a key role in bringing Carmelo Anthony to Madison Square Garden. Now that he's no longer coaching, there could be an open place for him in the Knicks organization.
That's a scary proposition to most Knicks fans, of course, because Thomas was responsible for making a raft of questionable trades, signing players to lengthy contracts based on little performance, and killing the Knicks cap situation for several years after his departure. (On the other hand, he did do pretty well in the draft, when he hadn't already traded his team's picks.) On the merits, there's little reason for the Knicks to bring him back. But Dolan has never been a sensible owner, and there might now be a way to bring Thomas back in an official capacity. They've even allowed former president and current nominal consultant Donnie Walsh — the man who helped the Knicks back to intermediate respectability in the wake of Thomas's departure, only to get pushed aside — to talk to other franchises and seek a full-time position.
This is all speculation now, but it's based in knowledge of the involved parties. Dolan can't quit Thomas for some reason, and Isiah seems to want another chance to fix the Knicks. None of it makes any sense, and yet all of it is all too familiar for the NBA's highest-profile dysfunctional franchise.
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- Isiah Thomas