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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Isiah's Master Plan

I've finally figured out Isiah Thomas' master plan to save his job. And no, it has nothing to do with winning games, though the Knicks did squeak one out in Denver last night.

The Knicks' settlement with Larry Brown was supposed to be confidential, but parent company Cablevision included the amount in a filing to the Securities Exchange Commission this week. There was $40 million remaining on his contract, and he was asking for an additional $12 million in damages. Most observers thought he'd net at least $30 million via arbitration... but Brown settled for $18.5 million to walk away.

The fact that Brown got less than fifty cents on the dollar for the rest of his contract has, predictably, enraged several members of the NBA coaching fraternity -- including several of Brown's closest friends and allies.

Expect this to be a theme as the Knicks face new opponents this year. Every opposing coach will be asked what he thinks of the Knicks' treatment of Larry Brown. Spurs coach Gregg Popovic sounded off last week, and last night George Karl and Doug Moe were up. Karl said the Brown controversy showed "a dark side of Knicks basketball and NBA basketball," while Moe commented that the Knicks had gotten out of Brown's contract for "pocket change."

All this raises the question:

When Isiah Thomas is inevitably fired... who is going to want to take over? If you were a highly sought-after NBA personnel guy or coach, would you be willing to go work for an organization that just squeezed Larry Brown? Or would you wait and hope that a more attractive job became available?

Our guess is the axe will fall before Christmas. Jamal Crawford's desperation steal and heave last night likely saved New York from a 1-9 start; I don't see too many winnable games coming up on their schedule, with visits to San Antonio and Houston on deck, followed by home games against the Cavs, Wizards and a trip to Miami. At that point, the Knicks will be forced to close out the season with interim management... Herb Williams redux, perhaps... and have a ton of trouble finding their next GM next summer.

So maybe that's Isiah's master plan. If he can't turn the Knicks around, he can make the job look so bad that no one else will want it.


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