The New York Times’ William C. Rhoden has argued for weeks now the steep price paid to obtain Carmelo Anthony was more than worth it to the New York, insisting even today that even “the most pessimistic Knicks fan”is satisfied with the state of events after losing to Orlando Monday night. Using the Knicks’ Florida trip as an excuse to catch up with Isiah Thomas (above, right) in Miami, Rhoden portrays the FIU head coach as wounded over MSG’s (understandable) decision to distance the organization from Donnie Walsh’s predecessor.
Last Wednesday, at the introductory news conference for Anthony and Chauncey Billups, Dolan pointedly disputed the notion that Thomas, whom he called a “very good friend,” had a role in the deal.
“He wasn’t advising me or telling me what to do in any way,” Dolan said. “And any reports that implied that he was doing that are simply untrue, and a fiction in somebody’s mind.”
This appeared to be yet another Garden spin, though maybe Dolan was telling the truth, that he didn’t need Thomas to tell him that acquiring Anthony would be a great trade, regardless of the cost.
For Thomas, Dolan’s statement was an embarrassing, and hurtful, blow.
Thomas still clings to the hope that he will return to Madison Square Garden in some full-time capacity with the Knicks — to scout talent, to recruit free agents. After all, last summer, he was set to come back as a part-time consultant while continuing to coach in college until the N.B.A. concluded the arrangement violated league bylaws.
“I just want the Knicks to do well,” Thomas said at breakfast. “Anytime the Knicks do well, Jim does well. I’m even happy Donnie is doing well.”
Indeed, when the Knicks introduced Stoudemire last summer, Thomas was thanked for his help in persuading him to move to New York. And what’s not widely known is that D’Antoni, the coach, even reached out and asked Thomas to help in the recruitment process.
But no one thanked Thomas last week after Anthony arrived.