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Isiah Returning to Power in New York?
The first article I ever wrote for HOOPSWORLD way back in the winter of 2005 was a satirical editorial about how the Chicago Bulls had basically seen their team single-handedly bailed out of bad situations by Isiah Thomas. By trading for Bulls cast-offs Eddy Curry, Jamal Crawford, and Jalen Rose, Thomas breathed new life into a franchise that desperately needed it after two failed rebuilding attempts.
It would take a couple more years before Thomas was actually fired for running the New York Knicks into the ground, but the city was more than a little relieved what it finally happened. By the summer of 2010, the team had cleared most of the bad contracts, brought in some respectable pieces, and come pretty close to returning to respectability.
Now, according to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, Thomas is not only back in the fold in New York, but he’s actually being given the opportunity to make huge decisions, especially as they pertain to a potential Carmelo Anthony.
"Isiah is calling the shots for New York," one front-office exec told Wojnarowski regarding the workings of the Anthony proceedings. "It’s a disgrace. Donnie (Walsh) should walk."
The most recent offer for Melo, which essentially boils down to the Knicks sending Ray Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Eddy Curry’s expiring deal and a first round pick for an aging Chauncey Billups (who doesn’t even want to be traded), Anthony, and filler, seems like an extremely steep price to bring the league’s hottest ongoing soap opera to a close. But that’s reportedly what Thomas wants to do.
It isn’t want Walsh wants to do, though. Earlier trade conversations between the Nuggets and Knicks ended with the understanding that, while Felton or Gallinari could possibly, grudgingly be included in a deal, there was no way they’d send away both. Now, however, the pot is about as sweet as it’s going to get for Denver, and it appears that Knicks fans could have Isiah to thank for that.
Walsh’s contract as president of basketball operations expires this spring, and Thomas appears to want a say in who the new president of basketball operations would be. Knicks owner James Dolan not only seems to be okay with all of this, but according to Worjnarowski has been right there supporting Isiah throughout this whole process. Hence the "Donnie should walk" talk.
Remember, Thomas wasn’t allowed to be on both the payrolls of the Knicks and FIU, where he is the head coach. Dolan, however, still talks with Thomas and respects his opinions on the future of the franchise. More so than he does Walsh, who, by the way, got this franchise out of the hole Thomas dug for them the first time he had this much influence.
Whether or not Carmelo Anthony ends up in New York, what’s clear is that Isiah Thomas’s influence with the Knicks is as high as it’s been since he was actually running the team. Inexplicably, he’s calling the shots for this team again. There’s no way that can be a good thing.
D-Wade Says Miami Can’t Wait for Championships
Just about everybody can agree that the Miami HEAT are good enough right now to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals. They’ve got the potential to keep things rolling into the NBA Finals and maybe even hoist a Larry O’Brien trophy into the air when this season is all said and done, but those last couple of ideas is considerably less certain.
Some say the HEAT simply aren’t deep enough, that one big injury to Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, or Chris Bosh would be enough to completely dismantle their season. But with all three of those guys on six-year deals, there’s plenty of time to make this roster perfect and win a championship, right?
Not according to Wade, who says he and his teammates are ready to win a ring right now.
"We’d be very disappointed," Wade said during Saturday afternoon’s All-Star media session. "All the top teams that feel they have a chance to win a championship and don’t, they’re very disappointed.
"But it’s also a part of the growth process; you learn from it," he added. "I’ve been to the Eastern Conference Finals before and lost, feeling like we were going to win a championship that year, and it hurt. But we came back the next year and won a championship. Of course we want to win, but you never know what can happen."
Because the Big Three’s contract sucked up all of the team’s available cap space, the bench they assembled had to be made from inexpensive vets who simply don’t have the legs to be consistent contributors, even as reserves. As the years go on, Miami will have the opportunity to use cap exceptions and trades to bring in better role players to fit around their trio of superstars, but Wade said even that doesn’t guarantee them a ring.
"We would love to continue to add the right pieces to this core, but this is a different time," he said. "There are so many different teams that are really tough in this league. I look back at growing up watching the Bulls, and they were untouchable. But I don’t think they had the competition that we have with this many good teams in the East that can compete for a championship."
He added, simply, "This is tough."
Whatever happens this year, though, Wade and his teammates see themselves as having the potential to build a dynasty in South Florida, and those Bulls teams of the 1990s are serving as a bit of inspiration for them.
"What I loved most about [The Jordan-Era Bulls] was that they got better every year," Wade said, adding, "We’d all love to be a dynasty. The Lakers are a dynasty. The Celtics are a dynasty. We would love to be a dynasty, too.
Before that can happen, they’ve got to win one ring. If they do that early in this six-year period together, however, one gets the sense that Wade’s vision for the team might not be all that unreasonable.
Why Couldn’t the NBA Have Saved the Sonics?
When league commissioner David Stern held his annual press conference during All-Star Weekend, he was asked great questions about the status of the new CBA, the future of the Kings in Sacramento, and where the league is headed next year and beyond.
But perhaps the most intriguing question came when one reporter asked why the NBA couldn’t have bought the Seattle SuperSonics to keep them in Washington, just like they did with the Hornets to keep them in Louisiana, despite there not anywhere near as much franchise history there than there was in Seattle.
"With respect to Seattle… the arena was not adequate," Stern explained. "In New Orleans, the arena was recently built and is adequate. And so this was a city—and New Orleans is a special place, given the devastation of Katrina and the difficulties there—we wanted to make sure had a chance to demonstrate that it was an NBA city."
In other words, had Seattle been able to provide the Sonics with the arena the team so desperately needed, the NBA may have found a way to step in keep them there. But, quite simply, it was the arena problems that kept that from happening.
"[New Orleans] had an owner that was not prepared to continue to fund [the team], and we had a lot of relationships that we thought it paid to keep strong by stepping in and buying it, operating it, and shining it up for sale in New Orleans."
Seattle, according to Stern, was completely different. "Everyone agreed, it needed a new building; a new building couldn’t be built, and the ownership decided to move it out. That’s all."
As for how things have gone in New Orleans since the league bought the Hornets, Stern said things are going fairly well.
"We couldn’t have hoped for more than the response that we have been getting," Stern said. "The fans have stepped up in terms of ticket sales. The business community has stepped up. The renewals are underway and we are doing very well with renewals, and we are doing very well preliminarily with business support, and we are also doing very well with the expressed and real support that Mayor Landrieu and Governor Jindal are giving us and we expect there to be. We expect it to propel the club to success."
All good things—it’s just too bad the building wasn’t there in Seattle three years ago or we could be saying the same thing about the Sonics right now.