Monday, March 3, 2014

Addressing the Isiah Thomas Rumor

A rumor developed this weekend that the Pistons might be interested in replacing Joe Dumars with Isiah Thomas this offseason.  I don't think this would happen, not because I think Tom Gores knows basketball, but because I think he knows business.  Thomas doesn't have a track record of success in the position he'd be filling (or any position other than Guard), cost his organization $11.6 million dollars in a sexual harassment lawsuit, and turned a proud franchise into a laughingstock.  Isiah Thomas was a great basketball player and meant a lot to the Pistons organization.  There's no logical connection that can be made between a guy being a great player and even being a good GM.  Joe Dumars' success appears more and more like it was the product of the team he had around him.  Those guys are gone, so are the glory days.

It's not enough to just say Isiah Thomas wouldn't be a good GM without providing solid reasoning is as lazy as saying he'd be good because he was a good player.  So let's look at his tenure with the Knicks, from a player movement standpoint.  Thomas was the Knicks' President of Basketball Operations from December of 2003 until March of 2008.  During that stint, Thomas also coached the Knicks from 2006 to the time of his firing.  Thomas is most notorious for absolutely destroying the Knicks' cap situation, but here's a rundown of specific player moves that Zeke made in his time in New York:
  • Traded Clarence Weatherspoon for John Amaechi, Moochie Norris
  • Traded Charlie Ward, Antonio McDyess, Maciej Lampe and Howard Eisley for Stephon Marbury, Penny Hardaway and Cezaary Trebansky
  • Traded Michael Doleac and Keith Van Horn for Tim Thomas and Nazr Mohammed in a three-team trade
  • SIGNED VIN BAKER
  • 2004 Draft: 2nd Round - Trevor Ariza
  • Traded Cezary Trebansky, Frankie Williams, Othello Harrington and Dikembe Mutombo for Jerome Williams and Jamal Crawford
  • Signed Bruno Sundov
  • Traded Nazr Mohammed, Moochie Norris, Jamison Brewer and Vin Baker for Malik Rose and Mo Taylor
  • Traded Kurt Thomas for Quentin Richardson and the draft rights to Nate Robinson
  • 2005 Draft: 1st Round - David Lee, Channing Frye, Nate Robinson; 2nd Round - Dijon Thompson
  • Extended Michael Sweetney (Mike Sweetney needs no extension)
  • Signed Jerome James, amnestied Jerome Williams
  • Traded Mike Sweetney and Tim Thomas for Antonio Davis
  • Signed Matt Barnes
  • Traded Antonio Davis for Jalen Rose
  • Traded Penny Hardaway and Trevor Ariza for Steve Francis
  • 2006 Draft: 1st Round - Renaldo Balkman, Mardy Collins
  • Signed Ime Udoka, Randolph Morris
  • 2007 NBA Draft: 1st Round - Wilson Chandler; 2nd Round - Demetris Nichols
  •  Traded Steve Francis and Channing Frye for Zach Randolph, Fred Jones and Dan Dickau
That's a pretty bad run, although it really didn't start out all that bad.  Things seemed to go south when he took over as head coach.  He made several savvy trades where he got more talent than he gave up, and his drafts in 2004 and 2005 were both really good.  Things went poorly when he signed Michael Sweetney and Jerome James, and it was all downhill from there.  Trading for Steve Francis turned out to be embarrassing, as Francis was a shell of what he was in Orlando and Houston.  His 2006 Draft looks even worse when you consider the fact that Rajon Rondo and Kyle Lowry both went after Renaldo Balkman.  The Knicks failed to make the playoffs during Thomas' tenure, but he only made one lottery pick.  Thomas clearly had as much trouble valuing picks as he did managing the salary cap.

For a guy who couldn't conduct himself professionally and did a poor job understanding the caveats of the salary cap, Isiah Thomas also had a hard time securing talent.  He had a few bright spots, but overall, the good outweighed the bad.  If Tom Gores were to hire Thomas, it would show a clear lack of judgment, and would likely mark another ugly stretch of three or four years in Pistons history.  Let's all hope that this was just a rumor.

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