Amid more reports questioning Thomas’ status, the Knicks look to extend the Grizzlies road losing streak to 19 when the teams open their season series Friday night.
It’s been yet another miserable season for New York (19-48) and Thomas, the team’s president and coach who continues to work amid speculation that his job may be in danger.
The latest reports suggest the Knicks may be looking for Thomas’ successor as president, speaking to Indiana CEO Donnie Walsh.
“I plan on being here,” Thomas said Thursday. “I’m here today, you’ll see me tomorrow, and I’ll be there the next day.”
Thomas signed a multiyear contract extension last March, but his job hardly seems safe. This is New York’s seventh straight losing season.
“Obviously, losing around here’s not going to be accepted,” Knicks forward David Lee said. “We understand that, so from a players, coaches, front office standpoint, everyone knows that we need to do better and who knows what can happen in the offseason.”
New York has lost nine of 10 and owns the Eastern Conference’s second-worst record. The Knicks also have dropped five straight at Madison Square Garden.
New York’s longest skid of any kind this season has been eight in a row overall, which it set twice. Memphis (16-51), meanwhile, is saddled with the second-longest road losing streak in team history.
The Grizzlies have lost 18 straight away from home for the first time since a franchise-worst 23-game skid at the end of the 1998-99 season. Memphis is 4-29 on the road, getting outscored by an average margin of nearly 10 points, and hasn’t won away from the FedExForum since a 90-72 victory over Indiana on Jan. 2.
“They are all disappointing,” Grizzlies coach Mark Iavaroni said. “I don’t count streaks. I am not thinking about that. I am thinking about winning a game.”
Memphis’ road losing streak was extended Tuesday night with a 98-94 defeat to lowly Minnesota. It was one of the Grizzlies toughest losses of the season, having led the game 52-38 at halftime.
“We have to learn how to contain leads and how to play it safe,” Memphis swingman Rudy Gay said.
Gay, averaging 19.6 points per game in his second year, has been a bright spot for the Grizzlies.
Thomas went with many of his own younger players in the final period of the Knicks’ 110-98 loss to the Pacers on Monday night. New York, though, was outscored 29-19 and outrebounded 20-11 in the fourth quarter.
But Wilson Chandler, making his sixth straight start at forward, had the best performance of his rookie season, finishing with 15 points and eight rebounds. Chandler, the 23rd overall pick in last year’s draft, hadn’t scored more than 11 points in his previous 20 games.
Thomas said Thursday the Knicks probably will not use Zach Randolph the next two games, and with Stephon Marbury and Eddy Curry out and Quentin Richardson questionable, New York could be missing nearly its entire starting lineup Friday night.
“This time of year, I think with the roster that we have, we need to take a look at the young players that we have,” Thomas said, “particularly some that we have to make decisions on if we’re going to keep contractually.”
New York went 2-0 against the Grizzlies last season after losing the previous three meetings. These teams play again April 2 in Memphis.