Last evening, the Knicks announced that Isiah Thomas — a man who once ran the Knicks, if you may remember — would not be returning to the team as a consultant, citing the likelihood that the NBA would disallow someone working for both an NBA team and an NCAA team. Isiah Thomas will not be a paid employee of the Knicks this season. So, all's clear, yes? Yes?
Well, so far. First off, even though Thomas won't be a "paid" consultant with the Knicks, the team made it clear he'd still be doing some consulting. Said Jim Dolan in his statement:
He's a good friend of mine and of the organization and I will continue to solicit his views. He will always have strong ties to me and the team.
So, in other words, he's pretty much going to have the same job. He's just going to have to live off all the phantom-limb money the Knicks have been paying him the last few years after they "fired" him but before his contract ran out. (And the billions Florida International is paying him.) Anytime Jim Dolan wants to call him for advice — and only Jim Dolan, of course — he'll be at his beck and call. Thomas put out a statement of his own, and he was oddly apologetic for his time in New York, which reeks of, "I'll be back, so don't hate me when I am."
One of the biggest regrets of my life is that the Knicks didn't perform up to the standards the fans had every right to expect while I was in charge. I take full responsibility for that. I was very much looking forward to this unique opportunity to help the organization do what I do best: find basketball talent."
As many have noted, Dolan and Co. have until March 31, 2011 to decide whether or not to guarantee the final year of GM Donnie Walsh's contract. It would seem an obvious decision; Walsh's ability to clear out the Isiah mess and bring in talent should have gotten Walsh several raises already. But in this weird Dolan-Thomas relationship, who knows what either one of these guys are capable of. Yesterday's announcement didn't change this upcoming season, but Thomas's "consultancy" wouldn't have done that anyway. Thomas still looms. He is still immortal.