Today we learned from both New York Papers that Knicks’ Team President Donnie Walsh nearly tendered his resignation over the hiring of Isiah Thomas (above) by Knicks’ and Rangers’ owner James Dolan (above), who will come in and work as a basketball consultant, and who, apparently, has remained very close with the owner with the deepest pockets and the shortest memory in the league. It was only recently that Dolan was ordered to pay $ 11.5 M in a settlement to Anucha Browne Sanders, who Thomas sexually harrassed. And Thomas got to keep the remaining money on his $ 21.5 M contract when Dolan finally fired him the first time, and deservedly so. Thomas’ moves as GM put the Knicks in this woeful position where they had to totally strip the roster down to zero and build from scatch–a position that cost them points with the free agents that matter, who were all looking for other good players to play along.
A federal jury decided Madison Square Garden and its chairman must pay $11.6 million in damages to former New York Knicks executive Anucha Browne Sanders in her sexual harassment lawsuit.
A verdict earlier Tuesday found that Knicks coach Isiah Thomas subjected Browne Sanders to unwanted advances and a barrage of verbal insults, but that he did not have to pay punitive damages.
The jury did find, however, that Madison Square Garden committed harassment against the woman and decided she was entitled to punitive damages.
Thomas was hired, despite already having a job, as the coach of the Florida International University basketball team, which he is retaining. Somehow. Because this seems like a glaring conflict of interest, the fact that Thomas is coaching against potential future Knicks, or coaching potential future Knicks. Hopefully, the NCAAs and the NBA will figure out the rules that this breaks, and enforce them to the max. Thomas is back less than a week and has already almost caused the resignation of Donnie Walsh, who, say what you want about him, will be running a fairly competitive team this year with a potentially great future ahead.
Walsh, when consulted by Dolan on the possibility of hiring back Thomas, completely disapproved of the move. And Amar’e Stoudemire told a reporter that Walsh was “livid” over it.
Knicks president Donnie Walsh is livid that Isiah Thomas is back in the organization and feels his standing with the franchise could be compromised by owner James Dolan’s decision to rehire Thomas, The Post has learned.
According to a Knicks source, Walsh told Thomas in a face-to-face meeting two weeks ago he did not want him working for the organization. Dolan and Thomas had agreed that Thomas could fill the team’s general manager vacancy if Walsh was OK with it.
When Walsh told Thomas he objected, Thomas went back to Dolan, who still has a love affair with the Hall of Famer and seemingly is on a mission to rehab Thomas’ image.
Without Walsh’s knowledge, Dolan and Thomas hatched a scheme in which Thomas could become a part-time consultant while remaining the coach at Florida International. (The NBA is reviewing whether the arrangement violates NBA rules on scouting procedures.)
Walsh, who had thought the Isiah issue was dead, was not debriefed until after the hiring was agreed upon, and he reluctantly put his name on a joint statement with Dolan. It was only recently that Walsh found out Thomas had been in Dolan’s ear for months, offering free advice.
So Isiah has apparently hit home with Dolan on a few points that have resonated. Definitely on the recruiting angle, though Thomas never would have had the space to acquire even one difference making free agent, the way he extended the Knicks’ salary cap, so that should be moot. Here’s his other big argument: D’antoni sucks. For Thomas, that’s a great angle because Dolan does not like D’antoni. Remember the game the Knicks were up 15 in the 4th with 7 minutes to play against Sacramento at home and lost?
Apparently, Dolan was very unimpressed with the coaching and he let Walsh know about it for a reported 15 minutes. But having Isiah back here to make any type of decision related to basketball, whether it be on a coach–recall he hired Lenny Wilkens over Mike Fratello–or a player or a contract is very questionable. What free agent wants to come to a disharmonious franchise? From that standpoint alone, Thomas hurts the team.
The other thing at play here is that Walsh, love him or hate him, has made some important relationships in the league. When he steps aside, he will be able to usher in a very reputable guy here to run the team. But what reputable guy is going to come in, as is, with Isiah whispering in Dolan’s ear over any mistakes or criticisms?
Dolan is a loyal guy. He is sticking by Glen Sather through this ten plus years of mediocrity on the hockey side. But if he doesn’t like you, you are gone. D’antoni could be that guy who is gone, in those terms. But where does Isiah fit in, in a positive sense? It’s a universally unpopular move, and as such, would probably be frowned upon by potential additions to the team.
And let’s not forget he sexually harrassed that woman.