Isiah Thomas has made it no secret that he still wants to run the Knicks. He said so just last week, in fact, in his wide-ranging interview with ESPN New York. It’s a laughable concept, or at least it should be: Isiah damaged not just the Knicks’ on-court product but the image of the whole organization, and the team eventually responded by replacing him as president. And the story would end there, if not for Jim Dolan.
For whatever reason, Dolan’s always had a soft spot for Thomas, and his tenure as president (and as head coach) did nothing to change that. In fact, Thomas would be working for Dolan’s Knicks right now as a consultant, if not for conflict-of-interest concerns. (He’s still head coach at Florida International, after all.) Said Dolan in a statement at the time: “He will always have strong ties to me and the team.” So when Thomas said he wanted to work for the Knicks again, it couldn’t be totally brushed aside by saying “Who in his right mind would hire him back?” Because that man is Dolan.
Or is it? Adrian Wojnarowski reports that “Thomas is fading fast with Dolan” now that the Knicks are under investigation for alleged improper draft workouts that started during Thomas’s regime. Writes Wojnarowski:
Thomas keeps talking about turning down NBA jobs, but these are make-believe offers. No one has offered him a job, and he’s gone to great lengths to make sure no one ever will. Thomas isn’t delusional, but desperate. He’s speaking to a one-man audience — Knicks owner Jim Dolan.
Only now, it appears Thomas is losing Dolan, too. Dolan has come to understand the severity of the NBA’s investigation into the Knicks after Yahoo! Sports reported apparent illegal draft workouts under Thomas’ regime, sources say. And Dolan’s been livid over it. Rodney Heard, the Knicks scout at the center of the investigation, was Thomas’ guy all the way, and Heard is still involved with Thomas’ Florida International University program.
That investigation could result in fines and forfeiture of draft picks. And, according to Wojnarowski, “league sources say any uncovering of Thomas’ possible complicity in potential violations could result in a suspension to be tacked onto his future return to the NBA.” Of course, without Dolan’s support, a return to the NBA seems unlikely. After all the Knicks have been through with Isiah — after Anucha Browne Sanders and the off-court trouble; after, oh, let’s say Jerome James and all of the basketball-related debacles — it’s Rodney Heard who may finally cause Thomas to fall out of favor with Dolan. Maybe Isiah isn’t immortal after all.