Don’t look now (and if you have Time Warner Cable you don’t even have that option) but the the Knicks are 5-1 since the NBA trade deadline following last night’s 93-83 dispatch of the Wizards. New York, winners of 7 straight at MSG, ran into a team whose brutal marksmanship (Kwame Brown, Gilbert Arenas and Larry Hughes combining to go 16 for 53 from the field) made the Crawford and Marbury tandem look good.
(Kurt Thomas scored 15 last night against Washington)
When you become manager of the Yankees or head coach of the Giants or president of the Knicks, you have essentially agreed to walk against traffic and across the West Side Highway. No surprises, you know what’s coming; you try not to get killed.
Still, I was puzzled by the intensity of the criticism of Thomas. These were no blockbuster deals. The Knicks traded Nazr Mohammed for Malik Rose, Maurice Taylor and two first-round draft picks. They traded Vin Baker, who was not playing; Moochie Norris, who was not playing; and Jamison Brewer, who was not playing.
From the reaction of the critics, you would think the Knicks had players other teams wanted and simply chose to hoard them. The problem these last few seasons is that the Knicks have plenty of nothing.
“When I came here last December, my job was to fix the toughest job in sports,” Thomas said. “Our fans who come to the games every single night understand what’s going on in our building and they see the difference.”
Thomas may not be doing as great a job as he thinks, but he is certainly not doing it as miserably as critics suggest.
It is intriguing whether the Knicks, under Thomas, will come out from under the weight of misguided contracts and shed the mentality that Knicks fans need glitz, glitter and big names.
I am guessing they will. I would like to see Thomas succeed. More than that, I’d like to see the Knicks and New York regain the imprimatur as the hoops capital of the world. Given the arc of Thomas’s career – college all-American, leader of a national championship team, two-time N.B.A. champion, Hall of Fame player, owner, coach and now team president – one of these ventures has to work.
Hmmm. Which of these arguments makes the most sense to you?
a) Zeke’s deadline deals were a roaring success despite talking on even more crazy salaries, because getting rid of Vin Baker gave the rest of the team more room to stretch out on the bench.
b) Given the arc of Thomas’ career — his post-playing resume including the bankruptcy of the CBA and being run out of Toronto and Indiana, he’s got to get it right sooner or later!
Answers on a postcard, please, because I cannot bear to cut and paste them.