Knicks' New Head Man Walsh Needs to Clean House
Even after they have disappointed all year by losing, the New York Knicks are doing the exact same thing of late - only by winning. The sad-sack team has matched their high water mark for the season by winning three games in a row, thus worsening their chances for a top-three selection in the draft lottery.
New team president Donnie Walsh was in attendance at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night and saw first hand that even this mismatched group of players thrown together in an attempt at a roster can win a game. The Knicks defeated the equally hapless Charlotte Bobcats, 109-107. With the rare victory, the Knicks (23-56) will avoid a 60-loss campaign.
Walsh sat with MSG Sports COO Steve Mills and watched head coach Isiah Thomas in what may be his last string of games on the bench. Once the season concludes, Walsh and Thomas will meet and evaluate the roster, as Walsh told reporters, "He should have an insight as to why this hasn't worked."
Part of that evaluation process will include Thomas himself. Will the man who has shouldered the blame for the inept performance somehow salvage a job out of all of this? He does have a history working with Walsh from their days with the Indiana Pacers, and there seems to be a mutual respect for one another. But if Walsh leaves Thomas in as head coach, there will be an uprising at the Garden.
A more likely scenario has Thomas being hidden deep in the organization for team owner James Dolan to at least partly justify the big contract extension he gave Thomas a year ago.
An ideal situation would be for Walsh to have his coaching staff and front office in place in time for the NBA Draft in June. Presently, the Knicks have the fifth lowest amount of wins in the league (actually tied with the Los Angeles Clippers) with three games left. This is being looked at as a decent draft, but with the majority of players that figure to go early being young and needing more seasoning.
Whoever the Knicks pick in the draft, they will be a long way off from winning and need to rebuild from the ground up. Their new coach will have to be a patient and thick-skinned individual. Some of the names being thrown around are Herb Williams, Scott Skiles and Mark Jackson. All three are intriguing, with Jackson the only one that has never coached a game.
Walsh has stated that he will keep an "open mind" about the head coach position when it comes to considering Thomas. "I still don't think that we've played well," Walsh said to reporters. "There are a lot of things I want to talk about, so it's not totally open."
Those words do not sound encouraging if you are Thomas. He should heed those words and be prepared to take a much smaller role, if he is lucky enough to be offered anything.