March 30, 2010
We can all agree that Isiah Thomas' run as head of the New York Knicks was one of the most successful in NBA history.
Oh, no. Not for the Knicks, but for most of the other teams in the league.
The Bulls benefited from his tenure, as did the Phoenix Suns. Oh, and the Magic and Bobcats. Basically any team not in New York enjoyed the fruits of Thomas' labor.
Unfortunately for the NBA, Thomas' reign as president of basketball operations came to an end almost two years ago. This means that teams are no longer able to rejoice in knowing they got something from Isiah Thomas. Unless they're the Utah Jazz. They're still loving the Zeke Era.
In January 2004, the Knicks acquired [Stephon] Marbury from the Suns in exchange for a combination of players and draft picks. A month later, the Suns sent one of those picks - a protected first-rounder - to Utah, along with Tom Gugliotta.
Six years later, all of the protections have expired and the Jazz will at last claim the pick in June. Naturally, it will be in the lottery.
Of course it's in the lottery. These are the Knicks we're talking about.
Jazz vice president of basketball operations Kevin O'Connor is quick to give credit where credit is due. He said, "Don't make us out to be geniuses," which is really a nice way of saying "it doesn't take much to come out on the right side of deal that in any way involved Isiah Thomas."
As you can imagine, new Knicks head honcho Donnie Walsh isn't terribly happy that the Knicks don't have their pick, but he knew what he was getting into.
"[James Dolan] made a point to tell me that [the Knicks didn't have their pick] pretty quickly," Walsh said. "I didn't really dwell on it. Hey, these jobs don't open up if things are going well."
He's got a point. I guess that makes Donnie Walsh yet another beneficiary of the Isiah Thomas experiment.