Editor's note: This story first appeared on January 18, 2008
The Isiah Thomas era in New York has been dying a slow death for the past two seasons. A three-game win streak not withstanding, owner James Dolan has had all the ammunition he needs to kick Isiah to the curb for more than a year now. (Here's a transaction-by-transaction case for why the Knicks' president of basketball operations needs to go.)
At this point, it seems to be a matter of "when", not "if", Isiah will get fired.
And at some juncture, whether Isiah loses his job now or at the end of the season, someone is going to have to come in, sift through the rubble and try to salvage a basketball team out of the Knicks.
Dubbed "Mission Impossible" by several prominent GMs, the once-coveted Knicks job is now considered a quagmire of salary-cap hell mingled with combustible chemistry.
Big name executives with stellar reputations -- like Jerry West, Jerry and Bryan Colangelo and Donnie Walsh -- have been mentioned as possible candidates for the job. But this mission, should any executive choose to accept it, would be the most challenging of their career.
For more than a year I've been talking with GMs about what they would do to fix the Knicks. The answer, invariably, has been a chuckle followed with a rejoinder: What would you do?
It's easy to criticize Isiah Thomas for the moves he has made. Suggesting a course correction is more difficult … but I'm up for the challenge.
The Knicks' situation is salvageable. Bring in the right people at the top, change the culture, hire a great head coach, manage the cap carefully, develop the young guys and the Knicks might actually look like a basketball team in a few years.
I think the model to follow is the Blazers. Four years ago they were the "Jail Blazers" -- a team filled with talented players, zero chemistry and plenty of problems. Now? They are the hottest team in basketball, with a young core fans can stand behind.
Mr. Dolan, I hope you're taking notes.